I was very fortunate to catch Adam at 3-out-of-four Victorian gigs this year: The Village Green in Mulgrave (20th April), York on Lilydale in Mount Evelyn (22nd April) and the Grand Hotel in Mornington (28th April). Apart from a preview album launch for A Current Affair, larger festival gigs, and shows with the Outlaws, I’d never been to an Adam Brand show respectfully (even though his voice has been a favourite of mine for over ten years), so granted to say that I was excited!
The first was at the Village Green in Mulgrave. I’d never been to the venue before and had no per-expectations. Large bench-like tables filled the room, and a bar was to the left of the tiny stage. Unlike many gigs, Gemma and Matt opened the show together, each taking turns to sing. Gemma sang songs off her 2015 debut release, Semi Precious (including the single, Coal Train) and a couple of covers – including an impressive performance of What’s Up by 4 Non Blondes which had the whole audience cheering! Matt performed songs from his various albums (including his latest self-titled release) and a cover of Keith Urban’s Some Days You Gotta Dance. Matt, clearly a crowd favourite (having toured with Adam for years and being a member of 2016’s super-group, the Outlaws) was smart with his likable, catchy and easy-to-singalong to song choices on the night with Give It To Me and It’s Only Midnight amongst others.
As with many seated gigs, the crowd seemed a little subdued. You could tell people wanted to get up and dance, but it was hard with the layout of the room and tables (you would have had to stand up the back or sides to not block people). However, thanks to the glow of some street team glow sticks and a couple of drinks, the night later kicked off to roaring success!
Next up was York at Lilydale, which has a bit of a reputation for producing a rowdy crowd – and it certainly lived up to its name! As with many drinking gigs, many of the crowd-goers were drunk before Adam hit the stage. The venue was around the same size as Mulgrave except, as York offers a pre-show dining option, diners sat on round tables near at the front of the stage, and those with general admission tickets stood at the back (near the bar, mind you).
Adam’s guitarist, Chris was ill with food poisoning. During the opening set, he sat to the side and played (a vast difference from his mind-blowing performance in Mulgrave!) During intermission, he passed out backstage and a doctor was called. With the prospect of no lead guitarist (Matt plays bass, but is also a skilled guitar player), Adam started what would be a now acoustic set. Many performers would have faulted, but not Adam, rolling with the punches and the show went on. Kicking off with the favourite I Was Here, despite forgetting some of the lyrics causing a laugh, a fan (who had the lyrics tattooed on her thigh) came to the rescue. My Side of the Street was to follow, with Adam on guitar, but to a huge cheer, Chris returned to stage (standing at times) to finish the set. Even though lyrics were forgotten, the excitement of an on-the-fly show experience combined with that Australian-spirit for a fallen friend was palpable.
And the night did provide us with the quote to end all quotes: “Maybe in a couple of years, you’ll meet up with some of these people, and be like ‘were you there that night Adam’s guitarist had the shits?'”
The third, and last, was at the Grand Hotel. I never knew a concert venue was upstairs, but it was quite a nice space. Where the other two had been very typical venues, Mornington had a bit more character. The room was smaller than the others, but the crowd seemed to get louder and more involved as the night went on and the drinks kept flowing.
The front row was littered with little old ladies (as seats were given on a first come, first serve basis, they must have been the first to buy tickets) who stood out amongst a younger crowd. At the beginning, people stayed in their seats but towards the end, the amount of people who were up near the stage – getting selfies with Adam as they danced as swayed – seemed to come out from nowhere.
The thing I love about an Adam Brand gig is its all inclusive. There are no egos. Adam is just as happy to stand up the back and let others shine, as he is taking the front of the stage. He gives each of his band members their own individual time to shine – something often rare for a front man. Performing hits from his past albums and Get On Your Feet, Why Can’t Love Be Easy and the new single, Drunk from his latest album – the set list was a perfect mix to please both the oldest and newest of fans.
- The Anzac/Waltzing Matilda
- Cigarettes & Whisky
- Dirt Track Cowboy
- Freedom Rebels
- Get Loud
- Get On Your Feet
- Get Down on the Road
- Good Friends
- Grandpa’s Piano
- Hell of a Ride
- I Was Here (York on Lilydale only)
- You Shook Me All Night Long/Higher and Higher/Ready For Love
- I Fought the Law (with Matt and Gemma)
- That Was Us
- Why Can’t Love Be Easy
^ and most likely more than I cannot remember!
Adam’s intent for this tour (as well as the album) is for people to forget their troubles, go out and have a good time. The tour definitely has that party vibe, but with those slower songs in to build the show. People will always complain about song choice, but fitting 12 albums into a set, songs will be missed. While some jokes are preplanned, it’s in those unplanned moments, when his charismatic and cheeky side comes through, where he’s at his best.