What a treat! To see a handful of iconic Australian musicians in such an intimate setting as the Brisbane Powerhouse. The performance by Archie Roach and his accompanying guests was a settling experience. The relaxed atmosphere of the Visy Theatre provided an ideal platform for just over three hours of what I would call traditional Australian folk music and lore.
The gig was a part of Archie’s tour launching his new album ‘Journey’, travelling with him was music legend Shane Howard (Goanna), Dave Arden and Amos Roach. The show opened with support act Dave Arden, performing songs from his own album which he mused took him only 20 years to produce. Dave has toured extensively with Archie and as a result has a sound not dissimilar to that of the home grown folk music unique to our country. Dave’s poetic songs were inspired by his country, his upbringing and his family with whom he shares a special, spiritual connection.
In the second chapter of the performance Shane Howard, had his turn in the subtly lit spotlight. A retiring, casual seeming character, Shane came onstage with a cup of tea in hand and a seasoned air about him. He briefly spoke about his life since the days of playing in the band Goanna and it became obvious that his experiences this lifetime have shaped and honed his music. Playing guitar and harmonica, Shane’s songs possessed a reticent, soulful quality with a Gaelic lilt. The only thing missing was a campfire and starry night sky.
The last instalment of the concert was of course Archie himself. Who had already made several appearances throughout the other two sets. Having not previously seen Archie Roach perform live, my anticipation for what this tremendous man had to offer was overwhelming, as was the mood in the heavily guested audience. Archie’s style as a performer is as individualistic as his personality. An Archie Roach performance is as much Dreamtime as it is music. When speaking to the audience in between songs, Archie had a distant dream like expression that commanded absolute attention. This made the experience, from the perspective of a spectator, an ethereal one.
Archie’s voice has a dulcet tone with a tremolo quality unlike any other singer I have heard. This is his signature as a musician along with the rich repertoire of songs with which he is famed. Archie’s honesty and integrity in his songwriting make him unsurpassed by few other musicians of our time. He presents himself and his music in a way that is raw, unfiltered and uncensored and it is these qualities that make his performances edifying.
Performing as a band, Archie, Shane, Dave and Amos create a magical atmosphere. The songs borne from a land we are only just beginning to understand, paint a picture of a history that all Australian’s should know. Shane and Dave’s beautiful harmonies exemplified the time and effort that has gone into this collective to bring about another Archie Roach album. What was showcased for us at this concert was a polished, well thought out and expertly delivered performance by all the men onstage. The social comment that interspersed the music was not lost on the crowd and was in perfect symbiosis with the message that Archie Roach delivered in his songs.
Having now heard the newest addition to Archie's catalogue of albums, I am confident in giving 'Journey' my recommendation to those of you who appreciate the sound of Australian music. It also provides me with a sense of pride to know that as a nation of people, we are producing and supporting such wonderful musical talent as is Archie Roach and his band of troubadours.
Brisbane Powerhouse presents
Venue: Visy Theatre
Date: Sun 18 + Mon 19 Nov
Time: Sun 6pm, Mon 7.30pm
Bookings: 07 3358 8600 or brisbanepowerhouse.org
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