Published on theMusic.com.au, Jul 2018
Pic by Linda Dunjey
The White Album Concert
It’s fair to say a portion of The White Album Concert audience knew little about the four legendary Aussie frontmen on the show’s poster, while others might only have basic knowledge of the seminal album they’d be performing.
But whatever the reasons punters were there, the collective excitement had the room buzzing as the lights dimmed and The Living End’s Chris Cheney strutted on stage with his Gretsch to dish up an upbeat rendition of Back In The U.S.S.R., giving its iconic melody a new spin with his unmistakably Aussie vocals.
Just as soon as he’d arrived, he exited stage right and Grinspoon’s Phil Jamieson crept onto the stage with a cheeky grin on his face to the quiet twang of Dear Prudence.
An army of backing musicians filled the stage with a mesmerising sound populated by strings, piano, multiple guitars, two drummers, horns and more before Cheney returned for Glass Onion. Finally, all four vocalists stood centre stage for crowd favourite Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, with Josh Pyke proving to have the most powerful vocal chops, while Tim Roger‘s Pirates Of Penzanceswagger and humour had the audience immediately onside.
It was clear they were playing to their individual strengths, with Rogers remaining on stage and channelling his unique quirkiness into Wild Honey Pie before a theatrical undertaking of The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill that was on-point to original recording’s vibe.
Cheney’s crooning in While My Guitar Gently Weeps accompanied by some tight shredding rendered a set highlight, along with a solo and acoustic rendition of Black Bird by Pyke.
While Pyke’s stage presence wasn’t as intense as Rogers’ in Happiness Is A Warm Gun and Piggies, his voice cut straight to the point in Martha My Dear and Julia. It was the different strengths of the revolving cast that kept things fresh and interesting all night.
Their personalities bounced perfectly off one-another too and having known each other for years, their natural chemistry was infectious and fun, perfectly captured when Rogers piggybacked Jamieson off stage in Don’t Pass Me By.
Jamieson’s big personality and broad vocal range allowed him to dart from lush ballads like I Will to upbeat pop numbers Sexy Sadie and Honey Pie with ease.
Part two kicked off with two big injections of Aussie rock’n’roll in the vein of The Living End and Grinspoon, with Cheney and Jamieson taking on Birthday and Yer Blues and bringing their A-game alongside some unique characteristics from their respective bands.
Each vocalist seemingly had more creative control during the latter half of the set, with Mother Nature’s Son allowing Pyke to also showcase some acoustic singer-songwriter quirks he’d usually offer at solo performances before Cheney returned to take the show to its climax with a mind-blowing onslaught of guitar madness for Helter Skelter.
Given The White Album’s tracklisting, they would have almost been better off playing it in reverse instead of having a bottleneck of classics near the beginning. It was an issue quickly remedied with an encore featuring all four members for acoustic versions of On Our Way Back Home, Across The Universe, The Ballad Of John And Yoko and big finale songs All Things Must Pass and Revolution.
The final few songs highlighted once again how great the energy was when they were all onstage together and just how well their voices gelled; something punters didn’t quite get enough of throughout the set.
It’s an interesting balancing act, trying to navigate through such iconic material in a way to doesn’t stray too far from the original execution but also gives it a fresh energy, but Cheney, Jamieson, Pyke and Rogers nailed it.