@ The Enmore Theatre
15 December 2017
Back in July when Easyfever announced a tour as tribute to the Easybeats and Stevie Wright, no one would have imagined that within just a few months the great George Young would be taken from us. And only a month or so later his brother Malcolm would also be claimed. It was as if, unconsciously, someone foresaw the drawing of the curtain on a remarkable era in Australian music and was being guided by some unseen hand.
Quite apart from any unimagined tragedies that awaited, the concept of putting together a band to pay homage to one of the great successes of Australian rock n roll is fraught with potential disaster. Who would attempt to recreate the kind of energy that Stevie Wright brought to bear on his outstanding performances? Who could sustain the kind of pressure that such a bold undertaking imposes?
You can imagine the conversation that went on:
Suit #1: “How about Tex? He’s got the mojo to pull it off”
Suit #2: “Yeah, or maybe Tim Rogers. He’s had a killer couple of years and he gets that over-the-top Stevie thing like no one else”
Suit #3: “Hey maybe Phil Jamieson. I hear he’s back firing on all cylinders and knocking ’em dead in shows all over the country”
Suit #4: “Or how about Kram? He’s got a voice you could use to shatter a windscreen”
Suit #5: “Chris Cheney? The guy can wail and shred”
Roadie: “We should round the lot up and get em all on stage at once. That’ll fuck ‘em”
And so it was that on December 15th at the Grand ol’ Enmore Kram, Chris, Tex, Tim and Phil joined forces to put on a show as exciting as anything that’s happened anywhere in the country this year.
There was every chance that the whole thing could have been a disaster. Amassing a mountain of ego that big, meant the whole thing could have imploded at any time. If it didn’t implode though; if it could come together successfully, it would like ticking off the kind of wishlist most people would never even dare to dream of. Beasts of Bourbon, The Cruel Sea, You Am I, Grinspoon, The Living End and Spiderbait. It’s a list that list reads like a blueprint for 90s Australian rock n’ roll. Couple that kind of pedigree with the extraordinary songwriting that drove the second wave of mid 60s Australian rock n’ roll and everything that came afterwards and the bar is set pretty fucking high.
The running sheet for the set was key to the success of the show. There were a hundred formats they could have gone with, but in the end, the band performed with no opening act and essentially each man, in turn, had a shot at playing frontman with the backing of a band whose own list of individual credits would intimidate most performers. Following that there were a series of combinations, for example, Kram and Tex crushed a few songs together, so did Chris and Phil.
Ultimately though, the show really came together when all five performed as one. And when they did, man, it was something special. If this show was to be included I could count 11 stages this year in which I have stood before the constituent members of this makeshift band. Without question, this show was as good as any of those. But there was an extra dimension, something beyond just drums and guitars.
Building to the eventual climax that was Evie parts I, II and III, Easyfever worked its way through the considerable roster of Easybeats, Stevie Wright and various Vanda and Young songs including “Hey, St Peter” “Yesterday’s Hero” “Sorry” “Do You Have a Soul” and hours worth of others.
The show was a perfect combination of seasoned performers with an instinctive understanding of what it is that makes rock n roll great, who’d been given impeccable material imbued with the kind of history and cultural significance that resonates across generations. The material is also so commanding that the egos in the room kept themselves in check and showed it the respect that it deserved.
It was a fitting end to a year that took so much from Australian music. It was a spectacular tribute to the contribution Vanda and the Youngs made to the fabric of cultural Australia. It was also the kind of celebration of Stevie Wright’s talent and energy that is often overlooked in the commiserations of the tragedy that became of his talent.
The show could have been tragic and a melancholic occasion dedicated to what had been lost. Instead, we as an audience reclaimed what was rightfully ours: the music of two great eras merging into something much greater than their parts. It was a privilege to be a part of.
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- Benjamin Smith