I don’t normally include reviews on Opening acts but this guy was exceptionally good. Brook Chivell delivered a huge sound with an acoustic guitar, his voice and what appeared to be an electronic kick drum pedal.
That’s it – that’s all of him. Just his left foot going crazy in perfect high-thump timing. Gutsy country rock, grassroots and very powerful.
Brook delivered a semitrailer-load of favourites like the 3rd National anthem of Australia, Billy Thorpe’s “Most people I know Think That I’m Crazy”. It got the crowd singing with passion, and by adding “Walking in Memphis” and their favourite from 1984, “Flame Trees” it was indeed a gold selection. Then Dragon’s “April Sun in Cuba”, Chivell-style. Wow. What a set to open with!
Russell Morris’s music has been spun around record turntables for a few years. His career kicked off in September ‘66 when he was only 18. (Feel free to do your own maths!) He’s had a string of hits and was bestowed with the Australian Recording Industry Association Music Award and inducted into their ARIA Hall of Fame. The Australian Songwriters Hall of Fame Award? He’s got that. Received Go-Set Pop Poll awards 4 years in a row… Tick that. The King of Pop Award in ’71 – got that as well. An amazing career and then chosen for the prestigious Order of Australia Award.
Not that it was a “bed of roses” along the way. Immense disappointments followed successes that produced rugged determination, which in turn gave birth to iconic tunes – the words of which millions of Australians know by heart. No matter which dodgy tribute artist might be ruining it at the local bowls club.
But what is it when a young nation like Australia comes back together, reunited by music, like a family gathering at Christmas? It’s good fun. Memories rekindled.
Make no mistake, Russell Morris doesn’t have to do pub gigs.
He could simply set up with a pre-recorded backing track, flog some favourites and people would love hearing the songs, again. But no. Russell got up, along with the legends who formed his Band.
I’m talking about Jackie Barnes on Drums (I understand his dad’s quite famous…) and Ian Peres on his white Fender Jazz Bass. (Ian played Bass with Wolfmother ‘til 2017 and currently plays keyboard with Xavier Rudd) Across the stage from Russell was Matt Smith with a road-worn sunburst Fender Telecaster. Matty was with the famous Aussie band, Thirsty Merc. Missing from the line-up was Attitude. We became these guys’ besties. No question about it.
The Band threw themselves right into playing top notch music for this sold-out event. The opening songs were loud and proud. And that very happy crowd at Beenleigh Tavern were turned on, all over again – with no desire to sit pretty in their seats, even though Tavern Staff put more chairs out to accommodate even more fans.
A few of these fans were brand new discoverers of RM, though mostly were Devotees of Russell Morris from the 1960’s, who were now into their 60’s with a 16-year-old vitality.
Honestly, Russell Morris and Band play this hard-to-nail-down genre of music from “dirty, get-down blues” to “retro-rock, fun and funky” – whatever you thought it was, it was just great music.
Chunky power chords from Matt on rhythm guitar drove the playlist along. Russell Morris’s delicate fretboard touch in some tunes is absolutely haunting. With his drums tuned to percussive perfection, Jackie Barnes became one very happy stick-flicker working the beat alongside Ian with his dramatic Bass moves. Visually, all hot stuff and an audibly exciting, packaged night.
They unearthed a massive vein of Gold such as “Sweet Sweet Love”, “Wings of an Eagle”. And one of Australia’s top favourites – one of the longest tracks in early Aussie radio history – over 6 minutes 30 seconds. “The Real Thing” was Australia’s foray into musical psychedelia, written by Johnny Young and produced by Molly. Those guys back then really knew how to do their stuff.
Still do, on stage. A real band, The Real thing, an unreal night. All at Beenleigh Tavern. It’s been redeveloped and comes equipped with people-friendly staff.
You’ll catch Russell Morris around; he’s also playing at QPAC in Jan 2022.
Reviewed by 101FM Radio Presenter Stu Robertson
Photography by Michelle Cop (MC Photography)
Beenleigh Tavern 13th November 2021