48 Watt Street, Newcastle
Thursday December 8, 2016 :
It was on a balmy Thursday evening when two of Australian music’s hardest working sons took to one of Newcastle’s newest music venues. With decades of experience between then, Josh Pyke and Bob Evans hit the stage at 48 Watt Street, for an evening 10 years in the making.
Wrapping up a big year of touring for both artists, Pyke having just got off his ‘But For All These Sinking Hearts’ tour and Evans recently wrapping up a promo tour of his latest record Car Boot Sale, these old friends came together to celebrate the tenth anniversary of a tour that helped shape both careers. For Pyke it marked an end to the day job and the beginning of professional musicianship, and for Evans, the solidifying of his then fledgling solo career, with the release of his award-winning sophomore release, Suburban Songbook, in 2006.
What better way for the pair to celebrate such milestones than by getting together and playing some of their best tracks, well, together? Co-headlining and sharing the stage, this was always going to be some special show.
If you’d seen both acts play stripped-back solo shows before, immediately this time around the harmonies were at the forefront with these two unmistakable voices complementing one another to wonderful result. After kicking off with a rich rendition of ‘Make You Happy’, Pyke jumped on the midi, striking the opening chords to Evans’ ‘Nowhere Without You’, then, when the call-and-response came, Pyke’s familiar tone made this a truly unique take. Like bumping into an old friend at a party when you were already enjoying yourself.
At no point in the night did material seem forced or over-rehearsed. You got the impression from the on-stage banter and natural ease between the two that the only preparation that had gone into the tour was a few nights spent sinking beers in someone’s home-studio.
Forever Song’, ‘Hollering Hearts’, ‘Saddness and Whiskey’ ‘Someone So Much’ were all played out smoothly, and the pair even threw in a couple of co-writes, the spaghetti-westernish ‘Desperate’ and ‘What the Future Holds’, and a “seemingly-spontaneous” cover of ‘500 Miles’.
Intermission gave us time to order up a cheeseboard and some craft beer (gotta love “adult contemporary” gigs for that!). Having won an earlier coin toss, Evans returned to the stage solo to serve up some old and new material in ‘Friend’ and ‘Race to the Bottom’ before being rejoined by his stage mate for a crowd-pleaser ‘Private Education’. Pyke’s ‘Leeward Side’ was another to gain a strong reaction from the sold-out crowd, as, of course, did Evans’ “Love Letter to Newcastle”, ‘Pasha Bulker’ and Pyke’s ‘Middle of the Hill’.
In all, the adoring crowd sweated through a show to remember. These two accomplished solo artists proved there’s strength in numbers, especially when it’s with mates.