[CONTEMPORARY MUSIC ~ AUS]
The Village Green at Adelaide Oval, Tue 8 Mar.
Proceedings opened with a Welcome To Country and a short but terrific (if largely ignored by chatting Icehouse fans) set of soulful blues from Emily Wurrama; Dance On My Own and Pretty Pretty are songs I will investigate again in the near future. After a short break William Barton plays a striking piece on didgeridoo – a suitably atmospheric lead into Icehouse (the band and the song), Davies is somewhat of a silver fox these days and his arrival still illicit squeals near me. The band is impeccable; Iva’s distinctive voice strong and familiar.
Tonight, they are not messing about. The set list is packed with favourites, hits and bangers. From the high-octane Walls, to the eighties gold of Electric Blue, each new song is greeted with cheers (if not much dancing). To be fair, it is freezing and, even with multiple layers on, I was considering spending $100 on one of the Icehouse rugs they were selling in the merch tent.
One of the best things about seeing Icehouse is they deliver these songs in a completely authentic way. They sound like they should sound. There is no reconstruction, remixes, urban re-imagining just the classic Icehouse sound. Considering that much of this line up has been together since the 1980s that makes sense. The two ‘newbies’ are multi-instrumentalists Michael Paynter (joined in 2011) and Hugo Lee who got on board in 2021; they are both remarkable. Lee brings that aforementioned sax sound with style and showmanship, Paynter tackling some of those soaring high vocals on Touch The Fire and Man Of Colours. The songs are often synced to the original videos on the big screens were more squeals of remembered teen Iva lust are woken in the hearts of many. Every song is an FM classic: Street Café, Hey Little Girl, Crazy, My Obsession, No Promises. People are singing along to Don’t Believe Anymore, chair dancing to Baby, You’re So Strange and by the time William Barton returns to add ‘didge’ to Great Southern Land pockets of people are getting up and sway dancing. After some prompting from Mr Davies everybody is on their feet for Can’t Help Myself and We Can Get Together. Bloody great stuff.
Icehouse return for a three-song encore featuring Put Down That Weapon (Midnight Oil cover) and Marseilles (The Angels), both of which were a nice surprise before belting out Nothing Too Serious and bidding us farewell. Mid set, Iva has a technical issue and goes on a funny rant about how things made by young people don’t last; fridges and toasters and apparently digital effects pedals. Old people, he suggests, make things that last. He is not wrong. Icehouse, it seems, were built to last. Forty years since Great Southern Land, doesn’t seem possible in many ways, but we live in a vastly different world four decades on. Be thankful Icehouse is still in it.