Published on theMusic.com.au, Aug 2016
Downstairs At The Maj
The cheery chorus of Herman’s Hermits’ I’m Into Something Good easing in an evening with Keith Potger had the intimate crowd thinking just that as The Seekers’ legend familiarised himself with a town he called home for many years.
Armed with two guitars, a ukulele and approachable demeanour, Potger was quick to give a history lesson on his years with one of Australia’s biggest exports; funnily enough as the Georgy Girl musical was being performed only 10 minutes up the road.
The first notable stop on the trip down memory lane came with the band’s first single, 1964’s I’ll Never Find Another You, with the singer giving the Tom Springfield-written megahit a new pop-folk edge.
The folk continued with Aussie tune With My Swag All My Shoulder, also famously performed by The Seekers in their heyday, before Potger jumped forward to the band’s 1997 release Future Road, thanking the title track’s WA co-writer Boyd Wilson, who was in the audience.
The direction then shifted to completely different era, as the spotlight held a strong focus over the powerful a capella intro of 1864 folk classic When You And I Were Young, Maggie — its emotional high was continued with the first taste of his solo work in the form of highly-requested tune Peace In My Time; a Kris Kris Kristofferson-esque number from his debut album that only took “40 years to write”.
Morningtown Ride was accompanied by an anecdote of a young child once asking him why he was playing a song by The Wiggles (“is nothing sacred”), an incident he described as a beautiful concentric circle, years ago singing it to his own children. And, fittingly enough, the crowd was fixated on Potger’s delivery in such a way, later partaking in a final singalong that wouldn’t be too far out of place at a Wiggles concert.
The audience participation continued with “an anthem for all the ukulele players in the world” which borrowed the melody of an old English folk song. Although She Was The One (a tune we might see on his fourth solo album) was only penned a week earlier, there were still punters humming the melody by the time the last chorus rolled around.
A medley of country classics, featuring whistling, was the perfect segue to Potger’s take on the genre, I Wanna Sing With A Nasal Twangy; a song that balanced his comedic edge, solid onstage presence and songwriting ability nicely.
From there it was onto touching love song and tribute Your Heart Will Always Be My Home, and it was that juxtaposition that showcased his diversity and truly cemented his status as solo performer.
If his comedy number about fast food and obesity set to the tune of Botany Bay, Bound For Obesity, was any indication, he might even be able to tour as a stand up comic.
It was back to the 12-string to close out the night with another tale of The Seekers, and their second hit, A World Of Our Own, and, as the entire venue sung and clapped along to Those Were The Day and encore Country Road, tucked away underneath His Majesty’s Theatre, that’s exactly what it felt like.