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Reviews of the Kev Carmody and Triffids shows Steve participated in Print E-mail
Monday, 28 January 2008

In January 2008 Steve performed at concerts which celebrated the music of Kev Carmody, whose "Images and Illusions" album Steve produced, and David McComb and The Triffids, who Steve admired (see his blog).  Kate has kindly collected all the articles together into one and here they are.  If you'd like to know more about The Triffids or Kev Carmody, well, those are the links :)

Oh, I saw two pictures on flickr too. 

 

Sydney Morning Herald 12 January 2008 Page 17


MUSIC CANNOT BUY MY SOUL
From little things, an emotional tribute
State Theatre, January 10 Reviewed by Bruce Elder


I HAD been forewarned. ''Hope you've brought your tissues with you,''
a couple of people who had seen the rehearsals remarked.


''I know Kev Carmody's songs,'' I replied. ''They're powerful. They're
political. They're sensitive and intelligent. They speak with great
clarity and integrity about the modern Aboriginal experience. But they
are not tearjerkers.''


What I had not taken into account was the finale – Carmody's and Paul
Kelly's great land rights anthem From Little Things Big Things Grow.
Sung against a backdrop of images of the dullard aristocrat Lord
Vestey, the courageous Wave Hill mob led by Vincent Lingiari and that
unforgettable moment when Gough Whitlam poured sand into Lingiari's
hand, it was impossible not to reach for the tissues.


It was an emotion-charged culmination to an evening that was more a
musical biography than a collection of songs.


On stage were all the concert's singers and performers: Dan Kelly, Tex
Perkins, the Last Kinection, Missy Higgins, the Church's Steve Kilbey,
members of the Drones and the Herd, Sara Storer, Clare Bowditch, Dan
Sultan and Glenn Richards – with Carmody, Paul Kelly and Broome's
Steve and Alan Pigram all joyfully singing the song's lyrical and
triumphant chorus.


This was a concert that told the sad and complex history of Aboriginal
Australia through 14 songs that Carmody wrote.


The thesis that underpinned the song cycle was the idea that Carmody's
life – from drover and station hand in the 1950s and his forced
migration to the dark urban awfulness of Queensland's Logan City to
Sydney where he found his radical, poetic and musical voice –
encapsulated the modern Aboriginal experience.


Carmody literally and metaphorically wandered through his songs. He
sometimes sang ( On The Wire saw him accompanied by a sweet chorus
comprising Higgins, Bowditch and Storer), sometimes told stories about
his life and sometimes introduced the singers.


At one point he picked up a guitar and sat around a campfire with the
Pigrams ( Eulogy For A Black Man) and he even brought his
grandchildren onto the stage and showed them aspects of his life
story.


The masterstroke of Paul Kelly, who conceptualised the concert, was to
choose singers and groups who perfectly matched the songs.


The concert opened with songs about Carmody's life growing up poor and
black in rural Australia. Dan Kelly sang the acoustic storysong I've
Been Moved and country-music sweetheart Storer followed with the
romantic idyll Moonstruck.


The rawness of Carmody's exposure to the mean streets of Logan City
was given powerful expression by Perkins's sparse, spoken
interpretation of Darkside, a tale of suburban teen despair, and the
Drones delivered a compelling and intense version of River Of Tears.


The optimism of From Little Things Big Things Grow was a perfect finale.


Yes, there were a few minor and irritating technical hitches but they
did not detract from the power and emotional integrity of this very
personal and unforgettable tribute to one of Australia's greatest
singersongwriters.


The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) 10 January page 9
Stars pay tribute to Carmody
By KATHY McCABE
THERE was musical alchemy at work as Missy Higgins, Paul Kelly and a
host of Australia's most respected voices rehearsed the songs of
pioneering protest singer Kev Carmody yesterday.


The Sydney Festival production Cannot Buy My Soul pays tribute to
Carmody's legacy, which includes the song From Little Things Big
Things Grow, the land rights anthem he co-wrote with Kelly.


Inspired by the tribute album Kelly produced last year to spotlight
Carmody's importance as a musical activist, the concert also features
Clare Bowditch, Tex Perkins, The Church's Steve Kilbey, the Pigram
Brothers, Sara Storer and Kelly's nephew Dan.


Even the singers got goose bumps as Higgins, Kelly and Augie March
frontman Glenn Richards ran through Drovin' Woman at the Sydney
Conservatorium of Music yesterday.


'' What you couldn't carry, you didn't really need,'' Carmody said,
introducing the song.


Carmody, who was hailed as the black Bob Dylan when he released his
debut album, Pillars Of Society in 1989, is the narrator and
occasional player in the production.



SMH The Sydney Morning Herald  |  19 Jan 2008  |  Australia  |
English  | Page: 24
Heart-stoppers on the road to David
IN NO particular order, some observations on a night dedicated to the
songs of David McComb, performed by members of his band the Triffids,
his latter outfit the Blackeyed Susans and a series of guests.


Moment #1: Steve Kilbey, Church singer/songwriter, contemporary of
David McComb and a besotted Triffids fan. His face bore the
unmistakable glow of a little boy who had dreamed of standing on stage
playing with his heroes and he didn't need the lyric sheet for Wide
Open Road [Shad.Cab note: Wide Open Road is the first track on The Church's second "acoustic album", El Momento Siguente] , Stolen Property or the driving, pulsing with hot blood and
fevered brow Lonely Stretch (one of the night's highlights) because he
had been singing these songs in his head for years.


Moment #2: looking at the keyboard player/vocalist Jill Birt and
realising she had the same faraway look on her face, the same slightly
stiff movements that we remembered from all those gigs in the '80s,
and finding myself smiling warmly.


Moment #3: John McComb reading excerpts from his little brother
David's teenage poetry and journals and the room chuckling at the
precocious but very human talent therein.


Moment #4: Melanie Oxley, backed by Chris Abrahams on piano, holding
our hearts with a simply devastating performance of Embedded.


Moment #5: As the show neared the three-hour mark, saying to the
Triffids fan next to me, who was carrying a postcard sent to her by
David McComb more than 25 years ago, that they must run out of songs
soon. Only for both of us to realise we could probably name another
dozen we were hoping they would play.


Moment #6: Listening to Rob Snarski caress This One Eats Souls, a song
of class and almost classical pop ballad form. (His brother, Mark's,
version of Bury Me Deep In Love not far behind.)


Moment #7: Hell Of A Summer, like Life Of Crime, reminding us how much
common ground there was between the Triffids at their powerful, earthy
bluesiest, and Nick Cave's Bad Seeds. That connection made all the
more palpable by the melodic bass playing of Martyn Casey, who is a
member of both bands.


Moment #8: Getting a kick out of Youth Group recreating the energy,
roughness and youthful confidence of the prerecord-release young
Triffids with No Desire.


Moment #9: Wanting more.





The Australian  |  21 Jan 2008  |  Australia  |  English  | Page: 7
Devotional night a Triffids triumph
Michael Sainsbury
MUSIC A Secret in the Shape of a Song: The Triffids and Friends Play
the Songs of David McComb Metro Theatre, Sydney, January 19.
NOSTALGIA rock ' n' roll sure ain't what it used to be. Gone are the
tired bands eking out a living on the RSL club circuit.


Now we have highly professional gigs on a booming old rockers' circuit
at any excuse: a re-formation (the Police, coming your way this week),
an anniversary (the Sex Pistols) or a landmark album (Lou Reed's
Berlin ).


This year's Sydney Festival has offered the opportunity to revisit the
music of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys, and the songs of Kev Carmody
in CannotBuyMySoul .


Under the title A Secret in the Shape of a Song , the festival has
presented the first local concerts in 19 years by the legendary West
Australian band the Triffids.


The group emerged in the 1980s during a fertile period in Australian
music when bands such as Cold Chisel, Midnight Oil and then INXS were
thriving amid mass-market success, and the indie scene was throbbing
with the likes of the Saints, the Go Betweens and the Birthday Party.


Thanks to the songwriting skills of lead singer David McComb, the
Triffids at times straddled the popular and indie camps.


McComb and his work (the singersongwriter died in 1999) lies at the
centre of this reunion.


The three-hour show is often mesmerising and resembles a scrapbook,
with slide shows and readings from McComb's poetry, postcards and
letters. Taking part were the five remaining members of the Triffids
(Jill Birt, Martyn Casey, Graham Lee, Alsy MacDonald and Rob McComb),
plus members of McComb's subsequent band the Blackeyed Susans and a
string of guest singers, with the band's former tour manager as MC.


A show that can toss off such a rolled-gold hit as Bury Me Deep in
Love as the fourth song demonstrates confidence, and it grew as the
night progressed.


Initially there was a hushed, almost reverent awe among the crowd of
fortysomethings in Sydney's Metro Theatre.


But things started to swing when Melanie Oxley took the mic. Looking
for all the world like a Brisbane mum in a red cotton dress and
sensible shoes but still dead sexy, her take on Embedded was
sensational, raising the bar for those who followed.


That Steve Kilbey from the Church was losing his voice only made Wide
OpenRoad more plaintive. Listening to McComb's songs and the Triffids'
music highlights their influence on bands such as the Bad Seeds.


The fact that Youth Group played a big part in the evening spoke
volumes about the respect in which the Triffids are held.


Respect alone doesn't make for a truly memorable night out. But this
was a knockout.





The Australian  |  14 Jan 2008  |  Australia  |  English  | Page: 14
Big voices of Carmody's canon
Lynden Barber
Cannot Buy My Soul: The Songs of Kev Carmody Kev Carmody, Paul Kelly,
Missy Higgins, Tex Perkins and others. Sydney State Theatre, January
10.
ARTS festivals shouldn't only be about importing dynamic performers
from overseas who otherwise wouldn't tour these parts. They should
also showcase local talent in inventive ways, creating a sense of
occasion and celebration. Full credit, then, to the Sydney Festival's
artistic director Fergus Linehan for programming shows such as this
year's tributes to the Triffids and Aboriginal singer-songwriter Kev
Carmody.


Based on a 2007 tribute album to Carmody put together by Paul Kelly,
Cannot Buy My Soul proved a smartly programmed, entertaining and
sometimes moving experience: a celebration of Carmody's life,
including his days as a Queensland drover, and the travails and
tenacity of Aborigines in general.


Despite Carmody's perch to the side of the stage behind a billy can
and mound of red dirt, the show managed to avoid the usual excesses of
Australiana, namely sentimentality and self-conscious folksiness. This
was a reflection of Carmody's unforced and matter-of-fact personality,
so well captured in his taped reminiscences between songs.


He is a gifted songwriter with limited vocal skills, so it made sense
that while he was a unifying presence, he sang only occasionally while
an array of guest performers reinterpreted his material in styles
ranging from violin-tinged country and folk-rock (the evening's
dominant flavour) to hip hop (Last Kinection) and hard rock (the
Drones, who were a knockout once you got past their bleating vocals).


Missy Higgins proved a dynamic stage presence, with a gift for making
Carmody's lyrics spring to life: a revelation to those of us who'd
written her off as a cutesy middle-ofthe-roader. Tex Perkins was a
droll presence in suit and crumpled shirt, leafing through a tabloid
newspaper as he delivered a spokenword piece. A pity he wasn't brought
back for a second song, given the Herd's murdering of Comrade Jesus
Christ , one of Carmody's standout songs, with a mushy blend of hip
hop and folky accordion. Clare Bowditch sang solo and in harmony.
Steve Kilbey was outshone by lesser-known artists including Dan Kelly,
the Pigram brothers, Sara Storer and Dan Sultan.


Lo-tech visuals — films of droving camps, Aboriginal protests and so
on, projected on to a crumpled sheet or the stage back wall — matched
the evening's down-home ambience, and the occasional technical hitch
was easily forgiven. When Kelly returned for the finale,
FromLittleThingsBigThingsGrow (which he co-wrote with Carmody), the
audience rose as one.



The New Zealand Herald  |  18 Jan 2008  |  New Zealand  |  English  | Page: 23
Triffids back for tribute to singer

For years after The Triffids frontman David McComb died in 1999, the
remaining members of the Perth band could hardly
bear to listen to listen to his songs let alone play them.

It wasn't until 2006, when the five surviving members were invited to
perform at a Belgian art exhibition of Triffids
photographs and memorabilia, that the musicians finally played together again.


Now for the first time in Australia group famous for songs such as
Wide Open Road and Bury Me Deep In Love
will re-form for four shows to celebrate the music and the memory of
the singer-songwriter.

A Secret in the Shape of a Song — The Triffids and Friends play the
songs of David McComb will run from January 17-20 at Sydney's Metro
Theatre as part of the Sydney
Festival. Guitarist Graham Lee said the shows were like a special
memorial for McComb.


''For a long time none of us could actually come to terms with his
death. I couldn't even  listen to the music and I know people who are
still like that,'' Lee said.

 ''[We thought] the best memorial to David would be to do the songs,
because that's how  he's remembered by people who didn't meet him —
through his music.''

Formed in 1978, The Triffids received critical acclaim in Australia
and internationally throughout the 1980s before disbanding in 1989.
McComb's brother Robert, who joined the band in 1984, said after some
initial rustiness it didn't take the group long to feel comfortable
playing together again.

''It was very rough to begin with, but you get better and you think,
'oh that wasn't too bad', especially considering we haven't played
them for 20 years,'' he said.
Keyboardist Jill Birt agreed: ''I think we realised that it's such
great fun playing together and we still enjoy each other's company.
It's a thrill. It just gives me an absolute buzz to be up there doing
it.''


The band will be joined on stage by a host of musicians who will
provide vocals, including Steve Kilbey from The Church, Toby Martin
from Youth Group and Mick Harvey from Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds.


Lee said he thought their singer would enjoy the shows if he was still alive.


''If things had gone differently and Dave was still with us, he'd
probably have a band something like this,'' he said.


McComb agreed his brother would approve. ''He would really love to
have other people singing his songs,'' he said.


'' He always wanted his songs to be covered.'' AAP

For years after The Triffids frontman David ''For a long time none of
us could actually McComb died in 1999, the remaining members come to
terms with his death. I couldn't even of the Perth band could hardly
bear to listen to listen to the music and I know people who are his
songs, let alone play them. still like that,'' Lee said.


It wasn't until 2006, when the five surviving ''[We thought] the best
memorial to David members were invited to perform at a Belgian would
be to do the songs, because that's how art exhibition of Triffids
photographs and he's remembered by people who didn't meet memorabilia,
that the musicians finally played him — through his music.'' together
again. Formed in 1978, The Triffids received criti-


Now for the first time in Australia the cal acclaim in Australia and
internationally group famous for songs such as Wide Open throughout
the 1980s before disbanding in 1989. Road and Bury Me Deep In Love
will re-form for McComb's brother Robert, who joined the four shows to
celebrate the music and the band in 1984, said after some initial
rustiness it memory of the singer-songwriter. didn't take the group
long to feel comfortable


A Secret in the Shape of a Song — The playing together again. Triffids
and Friends play the songs of David ''It was very rough to begin with,
but you McComb will run from January 17-20 at Sydget better and you
think, 'oh that wasn't too ney's Metro Theatre as part of the Sydney
Festbad', especially considering we haven't played ival. Guitarist
Graham Lee said the shows them for 20 years,'' he said. were like a
special memorial for McComb. Keyboardist Jill Birt agreed: ''I think
we realised that it's such great fun playing together and we still
enjoy each other's company. It's a thrill. It just gives me an
absolute buzz to be up there doing it.''

The band will be joined on stage by a host of musicians who will
provide vocals, including Steve Kilbey from The Church, Toby Martin
from Youth Group and Mick Harvey from Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds.


Lee said he thought their singer would enjoy the shows if he was still alive.


''If things had gone differently and Dave was still with us, he'd
probably have a band something like this,'' he said.


McComb agreed his brother would approve.


''He would really love to have other people singing his songs,'' he said.


'' He always wanted his songs to be covered.'' AAP


Sydney Live  |  10 January 2008
A life less ordinary
KATHY McCABE
It is never an advantage to be ahead of your time in the music caper.
Seminal independent Australian band The Triffids were an undisputed
critical success in their 1980s heyday and enjoyed a grassroots and
occasional mainstream following both here and in Europe.


But by the end of the decade "it was obvious to most coolheaded
observers that a beautiful era was at an end", as frontman and
songwriter David McComb wrote in 1995.


McComb's death in 1999 inspired the requisite revisionism of the
band's legacy, which included such timeless songs as BuryMeDeepInLove
, Wide OpenRoad and the beloved albums, BornSandyDevotional, Calenture
and InThePines. The Triffids' members, including co-founder Alsy
McDonald, "Evil" Graham Lee, Robert McComb, Jill Birt and Martyn P.
Casey, maintained the band's legacy via recent reissues of their
albums and a website, but refused to perform without their leader.


But in 2006, at the invitation of some devoted Belgians – The Triffids
were inexplicably big in Belgium – there was a brief reunion to play
at the launch of an exhibition devoted to the band. The Sydney
Festival has enticed The Triffids, former members and mates, to do it
all again for just four nights, in a production called
ASecretInTheShapeOfASong.


Another co-founder, Phil Kakulas, McComb's former Blackeyed Susans
bandmates including Rob and Mark Snarski, The Church's Steve Kilbey,
Chris Abrahams, Melanie Oxley and Youth Group's Toby Martin are among
the guests who will perform.


Others will read selections from McComb's vast archive of prose,
poetry and wickedly funny letters and postcards. If you want to
acquaint yourself with The Triffids' true history, McComb tells it
more entertainingly than anyone on the band's website.


Pedal and steel guitarist Graham Lee says it was only when the rights
to The Triffids' six studio albums reverted back to the band members
and McComb's estate that they began to explore opportunities to
celebrate the acclaimed composer and singer's work.


"What has been in all our minds since Dave's death in 1999 was what we
could do to perpetuate his memory and celebrate the music he wrote and
that has been a very gradual process," Lee says. "It was very
difficult in the first few years after his death to listen to all this
stuff."


Lee and his peers undoubtedly find it intriguing that The Triffids, in
many ways, were hailed as a quintessential Australian band. In fact,
BornSandy Devotional, the album which has been most credited as
evoking an "Australianness", was written and recorded in London. But
McComb, who was raised in Perth, wrote wide-screen songs which
conjured big skies, deserts, beaches and vast, open spaces.


"You can't really get away from where you actually come from. What
people describe as our most Australian album was made in London and
most of the songs were written there," Lee says with a chuckle.


"But the songs themselves evoke such a sense of the Australian
landscape and cultural psyche.


"We never really had any major success at home until we were
successful overseas.


"The people who liked us were refugees in a strange sort of way."


Of course McComb did make those lyrical references to his homeland.
But it was the band's live presence which tagged them as Antipodean in
the UK.


"At the time, a lot of British bands didn't play live very much; they
weren't very good. The Triffids were a very good and hard-hitting live
band and it just happened that a few music journos were blown away,"
Lee recalls.

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