Mark Seymour, The National Theatre, Melbourne, 7 August 2015 #Review

An appreciative Paul Cashmere catches Mark at the National Theatre in Melbourne.

Author:  Paul Cashmere, Noise11.

Date: 8 August 2015.

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Mark Seymour is one of Australia’s musical geniuses. Like a handful of songwriters, Seymour can articulate the Australian culture in song.

As frontman for Hunters & Collectors, Seymour and band reflected some of the most angst-ridden and at the same time passionate songs of the nation. Just being a fan of Hunters sent you on an emotional roller-coaster ride.

Mark Seymour and the Undertow perform at the National Theatre St Kilda. Photo by Ros O’Gorman

With his current band The Undertow, somewhat of a Supergroup with The Badloves, Horsehead, Boom Crash Opera and Hunters sounds rolled into one, we have the same poetry to a different recipe.

The Undertow is as much a band as Hunters. Cameron McKenzie (ex-Horsehead) on guitar captivated the room with the guitar solo in ‘Home Free’. Had he been auditioning for Crazy Horse, he would have been instantly hired.

Peter ‘Maz’ Maslen from Boom Crash Opera keeps the band in perfect time, like the band’s conductor, he is there to move things along but never to intrude.

Bass player John Favaro (The Badloves), like Maz, is the soul to Seymour’s heart and McKenzie’s pulse of this band. The Undertow rhythm section is a subtle but solid foundation.

There was a fifth member of The Undertow on tour who demands a mention. Eva Seymour, Mark’s daughter, brings a dynamic to the songs. Eva sang co-vocals on many of the songs in the show broadening the sound of the band. She (and her sister Hannah) have contributed vocals to all three of The Undertow records so her presence brought an authenticity from the record to the stage.

When I say three Undertow records, the longevity of The Undertow as a band is also understated. The Undertow have been in name only since they were christened on the 2011 Seymour album. Maz and Cameron McKenzie were first credited on Mark’s second solo album ‘One Eyed Man’ in back in 2001. As a four piece, officially this Undertow line-up was first together as a collective on the ’11 ‘Undertow’ album.

The current tour is focused on Seymour’s new release ‘Mayday’ which has been grossly ignored by radio despite being a masterwork. ‘Mayday’ is a snapshot of the Australian psyche. Lyrically, every song is a potential movie plot. Musically, every song is a work of art. When Mark Seymour brings these songs to life on stage it is far easier to comprehend why the album as a format is still, and always has been, a document of where an artist is musically at the time.

Seymour dissects a nation and articulates tales from the corruption at the big end of town (Courtroom 32) to the very heart of what makes Australians Aussie (Football Train). In releasing ‘Mayday’, Mark Seymour reflects this nation right now.

The past was not ignored either. It would be impossible for Mark Seymour to perform and not acknowledge his legacy. With The Undertow, we were treated to a different version of that legacy with Hunters & Collectors classics in ‘When The River Runs Dry’, ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’, ‘True Tears Of Joy’ and ‘Say Goodbye’. Seymour cannot ignore the past but he doesn’t have to dwell on it, and he didn’t.

Yes, Hunters & Collectors to some is a “brand name”. The big machine plays big venues and regroups for Springsteen and The Stones. The smart fan will check out The Undertow. This is your taste of Seymour songs in sized venues you haven’t seen Hunters & Collectors play since the 80s.

Mark Seymour and the Undertow, Melbourne, 7 August 2015

Red Flags (from Mayday, 2015)
Two Dollar Punter (from Mayday, 2015)
Football Train (from Mayday, 2015)
Courtroom 32 (from Mayday, 2015)
Castlemaine (from Undertow, 2007)
Carry Me Home (from Mayday, 2015)
Irish Breakfast (from Mayday, 2015)
Jerusalem (from Westgate, 2007)
When The River Runs Dry (from Hunters & Collectors, Ghost Nation, 1989)
The Light On The Hill (from Westgate, 2007)
Master of Spin (from Westgate, 2007)
Throw Your Arms Around Me (from Hunters & Collectors, Human Frailty, 1986)
True Tears Of Joy (from Hunters & Collectors, Cut, 1992)
Lorelei (from Seventh Heaven Club, 2013)
Home Free (from Mayday, 2015)

Beside You (from Seventh Heaven Club, 2013)
Classrooms and Kitchens (from Undertow, 2011)
Kosciusko (from Mayday, 2015)
Asylum (from Mayday, 2015)
The Red Lady’s Gone (from Undertow, 2011)
Sylvia’s Is Black (from Westgate, 2007)
FIFO (from Mayday, 2015)
Say Goodbye (from Hunters & Collectors, Human Frailty, 1986)
The Legend of the Snowmen (from Undertow, 2011)

Oblivion (from Mayday, 2015)