The Garden Of Unearthly Delights’ Aurora Spiegeltent, Sat Feb 28
It’s a big, friendly crowd that greets Russell Morris and his musical confederates as they step into the light. The pulsating Van Diemen’s Land kicks things off and this is followed by Breaker Morant, both accompanied by populist history lessons. A cracking version of Black Dog Blues comes next, and features some brilliant solo work from guitarist Peter Robinson.
It’s clear that these guys know their stuff, and very much enjoy what they do. The rhythm section is precise and strong without being overpowering, and provides a solid platform upon which the songs can shine. The bulk of the set comprises selections from Morris’ two most recent and most successful albums, Sharkmouth and Van Diemen’s Land, and in the space of 45 minutes the band shows its rhythm & blues credentials across a range of styles.
The genial Morris raps with the audience; he talks about the origins of the songs, about being monstered at school for his lunch money, and about paying a big price for his love of figs.
‘Bout to Break goes straight into Walk My Blues. The boogie-flavoured Bendigo Rock features another assured solo from Robinson before it fades into Morris’ introduction to Sharkmouth. Birdsville finishes off the blues showcase.
There’s time remaining for a couple of golden oldies. The Real Thing is nothing short of a genuine Australian rock classic, and this rendition is a beauty. The soaring Sweet Sweet Love follows, and closes the set. The audience wants more.
In an almost unprecedented move, the Spiegeltent powers-that-be allow Morris and band back onstage for an encore. Morris introduces “a song from the new album”, written by himself and Robinson, and then launches into The Beatles’ Please Please Me. What a wag.
It’s a good-natured ending to what has been a most enjoyable show.