Saturday, August 8, 2015

Music: Tim Minchin with Lucky Oceans, family and friends (★★★★)

Sonic Sessions
Fremantle Town Hall
August 6, 2015

Outside the Fremantle Town Hall last night, a friend said that, 20 years on, she’d be able to boast that she’d been at this gig by Tim Minchin.
That may be a little overemphatic, but it’s easy to see where she was coming from. The chance to see a genuine phenomenon (and there’s no doubt that’s what Minchin is), surrounded by his family and close friends, talking and performing his way through his lucky life and gilded career for a rapt hometown audience of 500, was something very special.
Especially so when he was coaxed through that story, and accompanied on his songs, by the wonderful Lucky Oceans, whose pedal-steel playing was downright celestial.
This was especially so on Charlie Rich’s gospel anthem, Feel Like Going Home, one of a sprinkling of covers including a bluegrass version of Muddy Waters’ Got My Mojo Working and the Stones’ Shine a Light that got the old hall rocking.
Indeed, it felt at times like a Sunday session at Clancy’s, Minchin’s uncles’ famous pub just up the road, where the young Minchin pulled beers and listened to Oceans and another uncle, the legendary Jim Fisher.
Uncle Jim was there, on guitar and mandolin, as was his cousin Tom, who played bass and contributed bullroarer vocals on Shine a Light, and Minchin’s long-time drummer, Ben Vanderwall.
Minchin’s brother Dan and sister Nell played and sang, and old friend Karl Wendt joined him on Tim’s powerful early break-up ballad, At Least I Tried.
The stories, of Tim’s childhood vicissitudes, the family pianola on which he learnt his trademark breakneck blues scales, were touching, happy, sad and revealing. Growing up as an artist, working at the Blue Room, Barking Gecko and, a sad irony, the Perth Theatre Company (note to George Brandis: international success and excellence in the arts don’t just happen; they are nurtured and seasoned by small companies in little theatres).
Put together, it was a window into the Minchin provenance, a combination of influences and opportunities that make him the ultimate jack of all trades and master of them all – or, as he put it, allow him to “make people think I’m smarter than I am – and it’s fucking worked!”
It sure has.

This review appeared in The West Australian 8.8.15

Here are a couple of the songs from the show, recorded (on a shaky camcorder) at an earlier get-together at the Sydney Opera House.

Shine a Light, with Tim and Cousin Tom:

and Harbour Lights, with Tim and Uncle Jim;

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