Icehouse - The Esplanade Hotel, Melbourne (09.07.11)

If only the walls of the front bar at Melbourne’s iconic ‘Espy’ could talk. What tales of intrigue, talent, romance, violence, insanity and eccentricity they could tell! Saturday night’s performance by iconic band Icehouse added another entry into the Espy’s substantial history books, and from all accounts the write-up could be nothing but favourable.

In this country the media gets a pretty raw deal generally. The majority are unpaid and more often than not, unappreciated. Seen as annoying grains of sand between the sheets of the performance industry, the job is accomplished through pure love of the art form and a want to promote what’s seen as truly valuable. It was refreshing then that Icehouse invited the ‘media’ backstage for pre-show drinks and nibbles, and for a post-show meet and greet. After 30+ years in the business, the band are professional enough to recognise that the media (and fans) have and will play a huge role in taking Icehouse into the future.

It’s been some time since Icehouse have performed live, and so punters were welcomed into the front bar for free...nix...nothing. I think every fan in Melbourne turned up on the night and I’ve not seen the Espy as packed... ever. This added to the atmosphere and anticipation as the band took the stage. Perhaps we were all asking ourselves if they could pull a good set together. When the first bars of ‘Icehouse’ permeated the air, there was a supportive roar and collectively we knew that no matter what, we were there to support a band that has played a giant part in the evolution of the Australian music industry.

Icehouse could have chosen to play their ‘B Sides’ (not that they have many), simply because they’ve been performing the music for so long that surely the same old standards would be dead boring to play by now. To their credit, they chose the music the fans wanted to hear and infused it with such energy and vivacity that the tunes could have been written yesterday. Out rolled the hits: ‘ Great Southern Land’, ‘We Can Get Together’, ‘Walls’, ‘Crazy’...In fact, think of an Icehouse hit and it appeared. Homage was paid to the days when the band did covers, with two Bowie hits ‘Heroes’ and ‘Jean Genie’ showcasing Iva Davies strong vocals.

The set was very tight. For those of us with a propensity to lose focus, there wasn’t an opportunity for boredom as the beats held a life of their own and nostalgia for the good old days brought back memories of sunny afternoons and times when we were free of responsibilities. We sang and danced and lost ourselves in the experience.

For those poor souls who didn’t make the gig, all is not lost. Icehouse is releasing an LP called White Heat: 30 Hits that’s due for release next month. For those of you still riding the crest of this show, you will probably wonder if the magic of the live performance can be captured on CD? Perhaps you need to buy it to find out.

Photos by Scott Barbour and used with permission...