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Roach holds AMC audience in thrall


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The Adelaide Music Collective Sessions made a welcome return to the Goodwood Institute on the weekend with strong performances by headliners Archie Roach and Mark Holden.

After a long lay-off for summer, organisers have wisely retained the format of 2014’s successful season, with each session including the induction of respected artists into the SA Music Hall of Fame.

The immensely talented Max Savage launched the evening with his own particular take on love, heartache and loneliness. An integral part of Savage’s show, apart from the anguished gruff voice and obvious passion, was the excellent electric guitar of Steve Pederson, whose tone and precision honoured the songs perfectly.

The-YearlingsNext act The Yearlings – Robyn Chalklen and Chris Parkinson (pictured right) – were all class.  Their sublime, laidback style seduces the listener with great lyrics and beautifully crafted songs.  The roots are in Americana, the style is alternative country (if a label is necessary), but Australiana was front and centre as they drew from their awesome album All the Wandering, with the title track being a standout.

BJ Barker’s drum style is perfect for The Yearlings; more of a “song player” than a back-beat drummer, he is always injecting extra interest into the already-spellbinding songs.

The induction to the Hall of Fame was conducted with style, respect and good humour by David “Daisy” Day, whose baby this really is.

The final members of The Twilights, Paddy McCartney and Peter Brideoake, joined their other bandmates as worthy inductees.  Producer, songwriter, ’70s pop star and reluctant dancer Mark Holden also took his place in the illustrious group and impressed with his candor and tales of success and failure, with equal emphasis.

And what can you say about a legend like Archie Roach?   He is a great storyteller, marvelous songwriter, one of the greatest emotive voices in Australian music, tireless advocate and benefactor of his people, and an inspirational example of the human spirit triumphing over terrible adversity and injustice.  Roach accepted greatly deserved Hall of Fame inductions for both himself and the love of his life and collaborator, the late Ruby Hunter.

After a brief shuffling of the furniture, Holden emerged with guitar to entertain the audience with more stories and snippets from his many songs.  He revealed he had to re-learn how to sing after cancer in his neck robbed him of 80 per cent of his singing ability, but the limitations weren’t obvious, other than lowering of a few keys.  His rendition of Vanessa Amorosi’s “Shine”, which they co-wrote, was excellent.

With no disrespect to the other excellent performers on show, it was Archie Roach that everyone had come to see, and he held everyone in thrall throughout his performance.

Roach tells in a matter-of-fact way just what it meant to be a stolen child; he was never reunited with his parents, but eventually connected with his siblings.  Having been brought up with children of many nationalities, he told us: “I didn’t know I was black until someone told me.”

The sad truth of “Took the Children Away” and “The Old Mission Road” were highlights of the great man’s performance.

In a slight departure from the usual format, Adelaide Music Collective Session Eight on May 29 will be the first AMC Jazz Session, headlined by the Mike Stewart Big Band featuring Bob Jefferey and a host of other South Australian jazz musicians, hosted by Keith Conlon.





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