The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
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TIM ROGERS

ABBE MAY

 

LIVE AT THE QUARRY

THE QUARRY AMPHITHEATRE, PERTH

13TH DECEMBER 2011

 

WORDS AND IMAGES BY MARK DIGGINS

 

 

 

 

In it’s 5th year already ‘Live At The Quarry; as the publicity says ‘has become synonymous with the West Australian summer, and The Quarry Amphitheatre has cemented its place as WA’s most sought after venue’. Well it’s true: and with a very intimate 500 capacity there’s certainly not a better place to be in Perth tonight.

 

 

This is a nice venue, no doubt about that. A sweep of terraces leads down to a low stage in an old limestone quarry that lends the venue and this series of concerts their name. And while a lazy hawk and some mildly threatening rain clouds circle overhead, it’s such a beautiful night even the threat of rain can’t dampen the atmosphere.

 

 

 

 

ABBE MAY

 

 

On time Abbe May saunters onstage and plugs in, with her haircut like Cleopatra, and launches into her own distinctive brand of blues. One woman and guitar…

 

 

For a reviewer who hasn’t managed to catch her before, Abbe is all that was described to me. The opening foray of ‘Blood river’ and ‘U Gonna Get It’  have a real elemental feel: one guitar and voice, a voice with real depth and steel, and one that hints at being warm and mellow but will just as easily kick your ass

 

 

‘Geetah’ is a song, Abbe tells us, that she wrote after being dumped for someone better looking than herself, it's a simple strummed blues that says a rather polite ‘fuck you’ to the person concerned.

 

 

This is simple bluesman fare where the instrument needs to bounce off that voice in the cool night air in a venue where a few dragonflies still dance. Abbe, as we find out, may not be the worlds best whistler, but the impenetrable scratch of the guitar holds lightness and darkness when the chords crash. It works…

 

 

 

 

 

Both ‘Howl and Moan’ and ‘Railroad Song’ do the job; and in the blue and red light on a sparse stage, constantly tuning (maybe the humidity?) she treads out a traditional blues lyric of walking away from love, and being drunk on wine when her baby calls. The proto-blues solidity that forces the warmth of the voice melts the crowd on ‘Jesus Gonna Be Here’. It’s music from another time and as the light fades there's a dozen dragonflies around her like a halo as the drum sample and the slide kick in. It may not have the swagger of the swamp and it's clean, that is until the dirty loud distorted vocal comes in.

 

 

All the lights turn on for ‘Country’ which hits you like a slow, lazy drunken lullaby, she’s in full swing and the lovely cover of ‘Spoonful’ is perfect for her. Taking time to chat to the crowd about the ‘best ninety dollars I ever spent’ getting back to her morning hair-cut she’s in full swing joking about the light making her mini solo look like a Jon Bon Jovi video clip!

 

 

With ‘thanks to whoever put the bottle of Patron in her dressing room’ (Gotta love a girl who loves a good tequila – I hope it was the anejo!) she closes with her best song of the night ‘Mammalian’ leaving this reviewer wanting a lot more!

 

 

 

 

 

TIM ROGERS

 

 

A white-suited, black hatted, moustachioed bona-fide Australian living legend is next to take stage, with his badly tied cravat, that would make a Frenchman weep, Tim and his sidekick Shane wander into the Quarry with a couple of guitar cases apiece and proceed to tune up.

 

 

Australia has so few characters like this man and tonight must be the umpteenth time I’ve seen him in his various incarnations but it’s always a pleasure. After all it’s not often you see a legend appear onstage straight off the plane carrying his own cases.

 

 

Encamped before the start in a circle of guitar cases and peddles, all crumpled suit and black army boots, with facial hair that went out last month with ‘Movember’ the crowd is just as mesmerised by his tuning as they will be with is set proper!

 

 

By the time he’s ready to start it’s moths that have replaced the dragonflies of the early evening but the clouds are ever-present.

 

 

 

 

 

Part of any Tim Rogers’ show is always the joy of the banter, and whilst many artist who try the same have you wondering when they will get into it, Rogers has that endearing knack of making you want to hear more of his stories. Shane, his sidekick, he tells us agreed to play the show for a bag of blow…

 

 


And then we’re off into the world of Tim Rogers, and with the crowd already mesmerised he begins with a poem in the style of Oscar Wilde's uncle…

 

 

The remainder of the night is an affirmation of the man’s standing and versatility. He is, he tells us, ‘only a little drunk’  

 

 

In a set that combines some great stories with some even greater songs, you do get that sense of greatness. One minute he’s meeting his Dad in the Columbia hotel in the UK, whilst in the attached song the road crew bemoan not working for UFO. He’s been on stage for six weeks, toured with Cold Chisel (another Aussie Rock Legend) and launches into ‘Time and Distance’, all lush guitars and beautiful flights of lyrics.

 

 

 

 

 

The lights may be too red and green for us photographers and the Quarry may not be full, but you really feel tonight that those not here, perhaps put off by the threat of rain, are missing out on something special. The between-song banter is worth the price of admission itself.

 

 

Tim seems completely at ease throughout and thanks 'all the good people for coming down', he thanks Abbe And tells us that he’s been a big fan, well a ‘Six foot three fan’ for years, it's a bad pun but allowable in a bad suit: ‘I tried to get her to join You Am I as singer’ He tells us ‘But got a very polite decline’: not all the best stories have to be true, after all…

 

 

And in a set that seems to end far too soon for anyone’s liking you realise that tonight you have been in the company of two great talents, but that Tim is as close as Australia has to a great institution like Ray Davies…

 

 

There was magic in the Quarry tonight, and there’s more to come this Summer!

 

 

 

By Mark Diggins