Dunstan Playhouse, Sat Jun 7
The expected Woodstock generation showed up in their droves. But surprisingly, so did a generous splattering of fans that would have been no more than a gleam in their parents’ eyes when Melanie first took the stage at that historic event at Yasgur’s Farm back in 1969. Melanie told us that she was nervous then – just like she was tonight, and that she had stories to tell and songs to sing then – just like tonight. The fans adored her then as much as we did tonight.
A packed Dunstan Playhouse was taken on a nostalgic journey by a troubadour who, despite the added years, was still armed with the tools necessary to build an unforgettable performance. Melanie’s voice was superbly powerful one minute, soft, tender and passionate the next. Her conversation between numbers and her engaging of the audience ensured that they, too, were part of the night’s odyssey.
Then there were the songs. Several new numbers showed that Melanie still has a message to pass on. Her dubious opinion on current ‘hit songs’ by other artists was gleefully received and obviously agreed with by the smitten crowd. She voiced her joy at becoming ‘old’ and hinted that it was a time in life that she used to think she might never reach. Every piece of chat, every beginning to a familiar song, resulted in a rousing scream or cheer from the audience – most of who were in their 50s!!!
The new additions to an already wonderful songbook were consistent with the standards she had set in the past. Songs such as Angel Watching Over Me, I Tried To Die Young” and the tearful Hushabye left no doubt that the flame had not died. Out of nowhere, the classic Alexander Beetle appeared and those old memories surfaced once again, and when the strains of Brand New Key began, there was no holding back. The audience was provided with backing vocals to perform and the rest was history, so they say.
Generous introductions were made to her excellent band members throughout the night who, supposedly with only one rehearsal, provided a superb accompaniment both instrumentally and vocally. Andrew Worboys on piano, Dave Hatch drums, Tina Harris on bass and Melanie’s son Beau Jarred on guitar, expertly complimented her own fine guitar playing.
The night ended with everyone singing John Lennon’s Give Peace A Chance while she continued to sing the wonderful Lay Down – Candles In The Rain. Two encores later, it was all over and for once, it did feel good to be old.
Classic doesn’t get any better than this!!!
by Mike O’Callaghan
Melanie performs People In The Front Row at Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre, until Mon Jun 9.