It was possible the Adelaide Music Collective’s showcase No.5 could have been dominated by the presence of one Glenn Shorrock, a great addition to the mighty musicians already inducted into the AMC Hall of Fame.
Shorrock was the star turn at the sold-out event, but there was also much more to this session musically, and an unannounced surprise inductee added an emotional twist to proceedings.
The now tried and proven AMC format of young solos acts and interesting original bands prevailed, with The Beggars opening the show with their gorgeous vocal harmonies and distinctly Australian folksy sound.
The Beggars are led vocally by delightful chanteuse Renee Donaghey, with Stuart Day on acoustic guitar and mandolin and Quinton Dunne on double bass; both boys also take a turn with the vocals. The band are regular European tourists, with “The Banjo Song” reaching number one on the European country music charts a few years ago.
Next up was 24-year-old Sam Brittain, with his engaging voice, skilful finger-picking guitar and insightful songs, which on this night revolved around the loss of a close friend. Strong melodies and emotional vocals are the cornerstones of Brittain’s work; his story-telling is also skilfully handled. By the end of his short set, he was so appreciative of the respectfully quiet audience that he abandoned the microphone, unplugged the guitar and ventured to the front of the stage to present his final song acoustically, up close and personal – a master-stroke that was well appreciated.
Brillig was an interesting act to close the first half of proceedings. Regulars on the main stages of music festivals, the band’s style encompasses sea shanties, cowboy songs and grim folk tales, with a tight minimal instrumentation of acoustic guitar (Matt Swayne), electric bass (Denni Meredith) and the multiple skills of Elizabeth Reid on piano accordion and the seldom-heard autoharp. Vocal are shared by Reid and Swayne.
After intermission, David “Daisy” Day presented the Hall of Fame inductees: Mauri Berg, Bruce Howe and John Freeman, surviving members of early ’70s progressive rock band Fraternity; Chris Finnen, master guitarist, showman and American Blues Hall of Fame member, and, of course, Shorrock.
All had some fascinating, surprising and downright hairy tales to tell of survival in the fledgling Australian music scene of their various heydays. Shorrock got stuck into his good mate Brian Cadd, who returned the favour in spades via email. It was all good-natured fun – but an emotional twist was to follow.
Enter AMC founder Enrico Morena to induct an overwhelmed David Day, who clearly was taken totally by surprise, as a special member of the Hall of Fame. As Day, face in hands, shed a tear or two, the audience rose as one in a standing ovation to the brave warrior.
Then it was back to the live music. Chris Finnen, accompanied by John Freeman on drums, tore up the place with his unique blend of virtuoso guitar playing, crazy effects wrenched from his Fender Jazzmaster, soaring vocals and supreme showmanship.
Then it was the turn of the star of the show. What would Shorrock be like, we wondered? Would he still have that blend of unique emotive voice, witty banter, and great song interpretation? There was nothing to worry about – it took a few songs for him and the band to hit full stride, but we were treated to a vintage performance by a great stage performer.
Shorrock drew from The Beatles, Manfred Mann and Rod Stewart, but it was the songs of The Twilights, Axiom and Little River Band that everyone wanted to hear. We were not disappointed. Brian Cadd’s “Little Ray of Sunshine”, The Twilights’ “Needle in a Haystack” and LRB’s “Help is on its Way” were stand-outs, but it was the predictable encore that brought the house down.
It was strange hearing Shorrock say earlier in his induction interview with “Daisy” Day that he doesn’t consider himself to be a songwriter – a claim clearly at odds with his wonderful “Cool Change”, which I consider one of the greatest songs ever written. Shorrock nailed it, as he has always done, backed by the AMC house band led by Rob Pippan and Enrico Morena.
A fitting closure to a great night, earning Shorrock the final standing ovation of the evening.
The next Adelaide Music Collective Session will be on November 21 at the Goodwood Institute, with the line-up including Evan and Idris Jones, Peter Combe, The Baker Suite and Laura Hill.
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