101 Tripod Hits is a very appropriate show to celebrate not only Tripod’s 20th birthday year, but also the launch of their songbook ‘101 Tripod Hits’. Starting with a great venue (the Speigeltent will always be my favourite theatre venue in Melbourne!) and continuing with a fun and eclectic format. Aside from musical instruments and mic stands, the only ‘prop’ on stage is a small table holding a lotto ball dispensing machine – holding, one assumes, 101 lotto balls. The audience are guaranteed to never see a stale show, with the songs being selected from their songbook by which ball is randomly drawn. In between songs, there is good natured ribbing that demonstrates the comradery between the group, and anecdotes and explanations stemming from the selected song. For diehard Tripod fans it’s a trip down a winding memory lane. For audience members with no experience of Tripod, it’s probably a little random and odd (but nevertheless, highly amusing). Actually, come to think of it, even with some familiarity with their work, the songs were still random and odd….  Songs on Sunday night ranged from ‘Ugly Men with Beautiful Women’, to ‘Blueprint’ (a highlight due to excellent acapella harmonies and accomplished trumpet) and ‘Melbourne Girl’ (which was especially hilarious for the locals in the audience). There was also a couple of songs from ‘Tosswinkle the Pirate’, including the extremely random ‘Bubble the Helicopter’ and more.

Tripod is made up of Scod (Scott Edgar), Yon (Simon Hall) and Gatesy (Steven Gates). Edgar plays Guitar on each number, occasionally joined by Gates. Gates and Hall are primarily vocalists, although Hall also play trumpet. But the strength of the group is in their 3 part harmonies and their comical lyrics and delivery. They started performing together in 1997, and their rapport and familiarity with each other is an important aspect of their performance.

The unplanned nature of the song line up did lead to a few false starts and forgotten lyrics, but this added authenticity to the spontaneous approach, leading to quite a few laughs, and was easily forgiven by the audience. There was very little reliance on sets, or lighting beyond a red light being used to symbolise the time for requests.  Theoretically continuing with the spontaneous theme of the evening, they called for requests, and settled upon ‘Ghost Ship’ – yet another tune from ‘Tosswinkle the Pirate’, to end the show. The song appeared to get a little out of hand when Gates and Hall decided to take the lyrics in extremely different directions, leading Edgar to claim he was “locked in an elevator with Fonzi and Gollum’.

The Tripod show was a highlight of my festival weekend. The intimate venue, quality vocals and extremely funny content combined to make a memorable and highly entertaining night out.