Wednesday, January 19, 2011

MUSIC: Don Walker at FAC

Don Walker and the Lucky Strikes
Fremantle Arts Centre
Sunday 23 January, 2011 at 2pm

Don Walker and Dave Warner (a little bias showing here, maybe) were the best and most literate of the Australian pub rock writers that emerged in the late Seventies. Both of them produced material that was about much more than it seemed, and both of them inhabited their songs with authentic characters (almost always young males, admittedly) from the suburban streets and small towns they themselves came from. Neither of them needed to be esoteric or loquacious to be imaginative; both of them harnessed their creativity to the disciplines of excitement and accessibility needed for success. In Don’s case, that success was enormous and enduring – thirty years after Cold Chisel’s heyday, I suspect his APRA check would still match those of the international megastar songwriters.
Get down to see him on Sunday if you can; he’s an intense and captivating performer as well as a gracious and charming man, and his West Australian pick-up band the Lucky Strikes (there’s that Lucky Oceans again!) is a tasty treat. Don's work since Chisel, as a solo artist and with Tex, Don and Charlie, is every bit as interesting as his big-time stuff,  and well worth getting acquainted with, if you haven't already.
The surroundings at FAC are unbeatable, Freo is always cool even if the day is hot, and you can run the gauntlet of Operation Octopus and spend the money you save at the door at the bar.  
Steve Prestwich 1954 - 2011
I was knocking these notes together when the unwelcome news of the death of  Steve Prestwich came down the line. Brain tumour diagnosed two weeks ago; operation; gone.
Walker and Prestwich formed a fertile partnership at the heart of Chisel’s sound, with Don’s staccato piano working down around Steve’s blue collar drumming rather than up with guitar and vocals in the melody. It was that bedrock of rock solid percussion that drove his songs and made Chisel in their late ‘70s prime maybe the best live rock’n’roll band in the world, even if most of it didn’t know they existed. 
Steve had that Scouse knack of letting you know he didn’t suffer fools gladly, and that you were probably one of them. But there you go.    
There are some lines from Don’s Home and Broken-Hearted that stick in my mind: 
The beer we bought for Christmas
Ran dry this afternoon
On the radio it’s New Year’s Eve
What a low down time of the year to pack your luggage and leave  

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