The Corner Hotel, Richmond, Melbourne
5pm & 9pm Monday December 21
Words – Geoff Jenke
Photos – JoAnne Ginn
Having to get up at 5.15am for a concert is not very rockNroll, but when it is in Melbourne and you live in Adelaide, it has to be done.
Even have been doing Christmas shows in Melbourne (and occasionally Sydney) for years now and I have been fortunate enough to get over for a few. With 2020 being the year it was, there was doubt if it would happen this year, but Ash, Matt & Wally came through at last minute with 4 shows over two days, due to the reduced numbers allowed at the venue. It was a rush booking but the decision was helped by the lack of shows I have been to since March (one). Stuff the expense.
It has surprised people that Even have been around since 1994, releasing their debut album, Less is More, in 1996. They have played around the world, and as in Australia, have created an almost “cult” following. They have constantly released new albums and Satin Returns, their latest album, being arguably their best. It certainly contains their best song ever, Return to Stardust.
Even – 5pm Show
Even came on stage and launched into perennial favourites in Stop & Go Man, I Am the Light, Out of The Woods and the simply Stunning Coming Back to Earth. Unusual for Even and particularly Ash, talking between the songs was non-existent in the beginning. The music was doing the talking and the talking was good.
First surprise was the rarely heard live, End to End from their debut album, Less is More, followed by 4:18 from the follow up album Come Again. Darn, it was good to hear live music again and the band were obviously enjoying the occasion as well.
Support act, Clio Renner, (you may recognise her from Rockwiz Orchestra) joined the band for Shining Star, her keyboards padding out the sound nicely. Next up was the magnificent Return to Stardust with Clio also joining on. This song really is Even’s masterpiece. At 9 minutes plus it is a thing of pure beauty.
Wally and Matt take a break from the stage, leaving Ash and Clio to perform Rags, from the Free Kicks album. It is this album that is being featured this show. Rags sound like a lost Bowie gem with Ash even looking more like Bowie these days than Bowie ever did. Ash then plays solo on Before My Time and If There is No You from Free Kicks. These are songs I have never heard live before and are songs that have never sounded better.
Wally and Matt return and we get the song probably most identified with Even fans these days, Rock and Roll Save My Life and yes, it does rock. During the song Wally takes lead vocals for a version of K.C & The Sunshine Band’s song Please Don’t Go which while not deviating too much from the original, was more power pop than power ballad.
Even have a “new” album out, Down the Shops, a collection of cover songs the band has recorded over the past 25 years and put on “B”- sides of singles or tribute albums. I expected quite a few of these to make an appearance but the only one we got was Living in A Child’s Dream (originally by the Masters Apprentices.) A good version but unfortunately falls well short of the original. No one could top the Master’s version.
The run home was usual Even brilliance. Life Gets in the Way, Black Umbrella, Stupid Dream, Peaches & Cream and finishing the show with Don’t Wait.
Even are the hottest live band in Australia and have been for a long long time. It’s just that only the faithful know it. They are so tight, but also have fun doing what they do. We got Ash’s Paul Stanley impressions, told why the Beatles did run around on stage (it was the boots) and when they did miss a start to a song blamed it on “the long 4 show tour”.
Even – 9pm Show
Second show for the evening “focused” on the In Another Time album and while a lot of the songs played during the set were the same, we did get a different Ash solo set with In Another Time, Melody Mae and Waiting for You from the In Another Time album, again songs I have never heard live. Ash did comment this album is probably “the obscure one” and I would have to agree with him. However, it made me drag out the album when I got home and give it a lot of plays. Far better than I remember.
She Told Me So was rolled out early, a song I have only heard once live and Mayfair Laundry Bus is always great live. Unexpectedly, we got the first verse of Paul Kelly’s How to Make Gravy, only because it was the 21st December. (The song starts with – “Hello Dan, it’s Joe here, I hope you’re keeping well/ It’s the 21st of December, and now they’re ringing the last bells”. A nice surprise.
A hint of Hot for the Teacher (Van Halen) led to calls to play it but Ash asked in return “Were there keyboards on that song?”.
Three hours plus of Even (over the two sets) is still not enough. I wish I could have stayed for the next two sets in two days’ time, but Christmas was calling and I had to get back to Adelaide.
Speaking with Wally between sets, he said they hope to get to Adelaide soon. I hope so too.
Support for both shows came from the talented Clio Renner, who took over on keyboards for the Rockwiz Orchestra when James Black left. She has a new album out Nothing Breaks Nothing Mends to promote and the highlights of the set were Collide and the title track from the album. Clio played solo and while I enjoyed it, felt it would have sounded better with a band behind her, something I confirmed when I listened to the album which had a band. Check the album out, you won’t be disappointed.