A Masterful, If Unusual, Combination

A live review of Mark Seymour and James Reyne live.

Author: Andrew Murfett, The Age.

Date: 6 November 2007.

Original URL: http://www.theage.com.au/news/music/a-masterful-if-unusual-combination/2007/11/05/1194117952716.html


Article Text

Although their fan bases cross over a little, the pairing of former Australian Crawl singer James Reyne and the visceral leader of pub-rock champions Hunters & Collectors Mark Seymour is a somewhat unusual combination.

Yet the two have increasingly more in common than their divergent catalogues suggest. Both are signed to Liberation Blue, but although classic rock radio flogs their back catalogues, commercial radio ignores pretty much everything they have released in the past 10 years. The two defiantly keep releasing interesting and occasionally challenging solo records and touring regularly.

The two are now in the middle of a joint national tour, their second in 12 months. The appeal is obvious: a relaxed, unchallenging night of FM radio staples and singalongs.

On this tour, which played to a full Prince of Wales on Friday, the opening slot was alternated. Seymour began Sunday. He started slowly, unaccustomed to the quiet, seated theatre crowd. Playing as a trio (drummer and guitarist), he ploughed through a handful of Hunners songs early: Talking To A Stranger, Do You See What I See?, When The River Runs Dry. Although his singing was typically robust, the tracks occasionally missed the punch of his old band.

His new material from the album Westgate was uniformly excellent, particularly the riveting Master of Spin.

Annoyingly for the performers and the rest of the subdued audience, a few engaged in two of the most irksome of audience behaviours: the slow handclap and the catcall demanding songs. Seymour graciously closed his slot with Throw Your Arms Around Me.

After a 20-minute interval evidently had the stoic crowd seeking out some social lubrication from the bar, Reyne was given a buoyant welcome as he came onstage with his own trio.

e trawled through an entertaining set of solo and band material such as Downhearted, Reckless, Errol, Slave and Hammerhead. There was an impressive curio, too: Paul Kelly’s How To Make Gravy, to which Reyne gave an excellent reading.

The night’s highlight, however, was a spirited six-song encore in which the two veterans and their respective trios combined to form something of a supergroup.

Seemingly relieved of the baggage of their own catalogues, they blasted through some unlikely covers: Hall & Oates’ Rich Girl, World Party’s Ship Of Fools, Dragon’s April Sun In Cuba and Ian Dury’s Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll. The effect was intoxicating.