The Garden Of Unearthly Delights’ Aurora Spiegeltent, Tue Feb 24
The Spiegeltent is packed. Everybody, it seems, loves Archie Roach. The concert begins with a three-song showcase of songs by the remarkable Ellie Lovegrove, accompanied on guitar and vocals by the equally impressive Nancy Bates. The pick of the three numbers is the wonderfully heartfelt Belong To You. Her voice is breathtaking, and Bates’ sublime guitar and harmonies carry the song along beautifully. There is warm applause as Roach appears on stage and accompanies Lovegrove and Bates on I’m Gonna Fly.
Roach’s band members take their places and the ensemble launches into a song from the Sensual Being album; the upbeat, gospel-flavoured Move It On. Roach appears to be in good form and good humour, sharing tales of his life both when he speaks and when he sings. A Child Was Born Here slows things down, just a little, but the earnest nature and power of the lyric remains at the forefront. Roach continues to share affectionate memories of his life with his foster-parents and his schoolmates, bringing smiles to the faces of all those present. The pace slows again, but the passion is there for the entire world to hear in Roach’s rendition of his best known and most-lauded song, Took The Children Away. Staggeringly beautiful.
Roach relays stories of his life on the streets, which provide a platform for the upbeat Beggar Man. This is followed by Down City Streets, a song written by Ruby Hunter, Roach’s late partner. The band is top-notch; every song is a winner.
“I talk too much,” Roach confesses. “We’ve run out of time”. The magnificent, anthemic Small Child closes the show. The hauntingly powerful harmonies of the “hello, hello, hello” refrain linger in the atmosphere long after Roach has left the stage. A rare talent, a great band, and an excellent performance.