The Whitlams + Nicholas Roy + Leena - Metro Theatre (10.09.10)

Leena was an interesting choice to open for The Whitlams. Having been touring with the likes of Paul Dempsey and set to open for Tim Finn you can be assured she is a quality performer. Here however, her brand of female country music seems a little out of focus for the headline act. Whilst the early crowd enjoyed her sultry style there seems to be a force missing from her performance that would really allow her to cut through to the audience. Nicholas Roy delivered another quality show making great work of their non-album material and demonstrating great vocal ability. In a 3-part harmony introduction Roy had the audience transfixed. The tempo of the show was slightly faster than in his previous showing and that may have been collective nerves or simply a conscious decision to force the audience to move their feet. The Reggae vibe of 'It's All My Fault' was a welcome treat and 'This Is How We Go Out' was once again superb. This band continues to improve in some way shape or form with each outing. Given they will be supporting The Audreys later this year, Nicholas Roy showed a true talent in being able to shift between the Funk infused Hip-Hop of Lowrider to Folk music with ease and his supporting slot here was a great demonstration that even when you might get a little carried away and wrapped up in the crowd, you can still deliver a killer show and add to your growing fan base. The Whitlams are part of Australian music folklore. They have more than 6 albums and 17 years worth of material. After various outings with symphonies, they returned tonight to the straight band set up. Determined not to disappoint fans they gave us tracks from just about every record. This reviewer has fond memories of seeing these guys play on his 18th birthday at Australia's oldest casino and belting out 'Blow up the Pokies'. That was an awesome occasion and the irony was enjoyed by all comers. Sadly every time they play now they will be forever compared to that moment. The entire set was strong and there was good banter from Freedman with the 1070 people listening to them play and singing along and 30 people talking. There was also one moment that threatened to get a little heated as a punter was filming the band up front and Freedman repeatedly asked the person to put the camera away, then when he stopped filming, instead of watching the band he watched the playback of what he had recorded. Freedman made a good point about forgoing technology and just being in the moment and enjoying the music. This is how things should be consumed but in these modern times it is just not the way. Sure filming a gig in an unofficial capacity is insensitive and should be discouraged however communicating via Social Media about what you are experiencing has become the norm and generally serves to the betterment of a band’s popularity. In any case The Whitlams fan base was ever present and most of the audience sang along to most of the tracks. The inclusion of the song ‘Hamburgers’ in the 2nd encore was after much cajoling from the crowd. Freedman also seemed less animated than usual and seemed to consume less wine. This was due to his mother being present he quipped. These lads have stood the test of time in almost two decades of hits and misses and emotive piano driven-music. Like their frontman's rebuke of technology and change in an effort to adapt, the band has gone the same way and evidently has become somewhat stagnant and unimpressive. They will never live up to that magical casino performance though they don't believe they have to. Anyone for last drinks?