Live Review: The Sunnyboys + Even + Fearless Vampire Killers - The Corner Hotel, Melbourne (08.12.12)

For some of the fans arriving at The Corner after the cold change had set in on Saturday night, this was the very first time they were seeing The Sunnyboys perform, fresh from their Meredith show the night before. The Sunnyboys disbanded in 1984 and played a few reunion shows over the years and earlier this year under the moniker of Kids In Dust , but the Corner show was a chance to witness the band in a pub setting that would’ve recreated the atmosphere of their early days.

The Fearless Vampire Killers are warming up punters on the second stage, with a searing, ballsy rendition of The Beatles “Yer Blues”. Lead vocalist Sean Ainsworth talks about the impracticalities of tuning a 12 string guitar, despite its cool appearance, closing their set with the 60’s pop infused “Tell me What You’re Trying to Say”.

The second dais is being fully utilised tonight, with three piece popsters Even taking to the stage. Even are one of those bands that consistently put on an entertaining live show, blessed with their catalogue of catchy pop songs, that hark back to the 60’s and 70’s.

Starting with punchy opener “I Have Nothing” and followed closely by ole favourite “Black Umbrella” vocalist Ash Naylor informs us that “We have been playing around Melbourne for the last 18 years”. It’s a pretty impressive feat of longevity for a band in this era. Bassist Wally Kempton and drummer Matthew Cotter ably support Ash as he displays some coveted rock star moves. Even’s energy and pace doesn’t abate with more moments of pure pop genius, in such numbers as “Don’t Wait”, “To the Right”, “No Surprises” and “Stop and go Man” dedicated to “The Hollies” that feature on the set.

The crowd consisting of older audience members who were in their teens when “Alone With You” first hit the airwaves, scream and cheer in appreciation as each original member of The Sunnyboys takes to the stage. It’s a poignant moment when Jeremy Oxley appears. He was suffering with undiagnosed schizophrenia at the height of their stardom in the 80’s and his illness was sadly in part, responsible for the band’s demise. The crowd makes him feel welcome as it takes a lot of courage to be on stage and older brother Peter on bass, keeps a watchful eye on him throughout the set.

Opener “As I walk” melts away a couple of decades, and the crowd are singing and reminiscing like its 1989 again. Jeremy’s voice is still imbued with a strong soulful melancholy tone, and guitarist Richard Burgman looks ecstatic to be back, flashing smiles and thanking the audience profusely. The stage backdrop is a simple, silver coloured curtain and the band are bathed in white light, not requiring fancy stage props to entertain the throng.

Old hits are being played in quick succession; “No Love Around”, “Tunnel of my Love”, “My Only Friend”, but it is “Happy Man” that incites a mass sing and dance along. It proves to be one of many highlights, along with signature tune “Alone with You” and there isn’t a dry eye in the house when it’s played. Frenetic drumming by Bill Bilsen and that familiar prominent perfect bass line signal the start of “You Need A Friend” and the songs seem as relevant as they were in the 80’s.

Though the band members are all older, their fine pop songs have stood the test of time and their gig at the Corner is a potent reminder of how bloody good the Sunnyboys were and still are.