Governor Hindmarsh Hotel, Fri 7 Aug
You can’t ask for much more on a cold night than a warm room and one of the finest catalogues rock‘n’roll has to offer, and that’s exactly what The Gov provided Friday with the help of Tom West, Todd Sibbin, Ryan Hutcheson and Alister Douglas. Over two sets that mostly mined Neil Young’s classic ‘70s output, Tom West and his colleagues set about exploring some of the legendary rocker’s most well-known work. Remaining faithful while skirting outright imitation, their performances captured the spirit of the songs’ originator, mixing skill and musicality with a loose feel and heartfelt execution.
Opening with a somewhat understated take on Crazy Horse’s Cortez The Killer, the group followed with a jaunty performance of On The Beach’s Walk On, before stomping through a spirited rendition of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Ohio. It was during Ohio that any signs of rust fell away and the band gelled, doing justice to the familiar CSN&Y harmonies and locking into a tight groove together, earning strong audience approval. The group followed with a blissfully rocking Powderfinger. Todd Sibbin broke out the lap steel for the first of several workouts on Lookin’ For A Love before the band delivered a positively swinging Mansion On The Hill. They closed out the first set with a powerful Down By The River.
The band was strong throughout. Tom West handled the unenviable acoustic guitar and vocal duties with apparent ease. Todd Sibbin took the electric guitars, playing leads that split the difference between reverence and spontaneity, while delivering distorted tones that were indistinguishable from their recordings. Ryan Hutcheson was steady on bass and Alister Douglas kept perfect time on drums.
Through a second set filled with hits like Heart Of Gold, Harvest Moon, and Old Man, the band continued to excel, with highlights including fiery back-to-back readings of Don’t Let It Get You Down and Southern Man. For fans of Neil Young, who is famously reluctant to rely on his back catalogue at gigs, it was a welcome evening of crowd-pleasing.
Image courtesy of the Helpless Facebook Page