If Tim Minchin were able to join Eddie Perfect and Tripod on stage we would have a perfect storm of Australian comedy songsters on the Arts Centre stage this Festival. As it stands, this is a slick and musically delightful production that demonstrates the supreme vocal talents of the quartet, if not their comedic prowess.
Of course, this show does do what it says on the tin. Australian Songs is furnished with no less than 90 minutes worth of skilfully harmonised a Capella versions of Aussie tracks both well-known and more obscure. But for a show that’s part of the Comedy Festival, it’s surprising to find that the sort of comedy songs both Perfect and Tripod are known for, get short shrift in this production, with only one of each of their own tracks making the set list.
That’s not to say that the banter between songs from the boys isn’t funny and entertaining, as it most certainly is, but it would be insulting to the rest of the acts in the festival to suggest that it’s comedy in any pure sense.
That gripe out of the way, and safe in the knowledge that this is an evening of top notch four-part harmonising, the skills on display here are admittedly formidable. Perfect demonstrates a basso register that we rarely get to enjoy in his solo performances and his influence seems to have extracted a refined performance from the Tripod boys that their relaxed style doesn’t usually deliver.
While more obvious song choices from John Farnham, Australian Crawl and Kylie Minogue get an enjoyable four-part makeover, it’s tracks such as Silverchair’s ‘Straight Lines’, Billy Field’s ‘You Weren’t In Love With Me’ and The Reels’ ‘Quasimodo’s Dream’ that really impress. While Gatesy’s showboating on the Little River Band’s ‘Reminiscing’ comes closest to providing the sort of musical comedy punters might have expected.
To bring a tear to your eye for the encore, the group’s celebrated version of Paul Kelly’s ‘Meet Me In The Middle of the Air’ absolutely delivers and then some audience participation on Archie Roach’s ‘Little By Little’ sets the crowd rocking out of the aisles and on their way home.
If you don’t attend this production expecting a night full of laughs, but instead an evening of delicious close harmonies and fine-tuned vocal performances you’ll be well set to have a great night.