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It's not often you get the opportunity to see two such great iconic Australian bands on one bill at your local club or pub so when the opportunity arose to catch both Icehouse and Models together, it was one I could hardly pass up. OK... so, for a Sydney girl, Southport on the Gold Coast and Eatons Hill in Brisbane could hardly be considered local... but it was most definitely worth the trip to be amongst the crowd at not just one but both of these gigs last weekend. Just under 1,000 people enjoyed Icehouse and Models at RSL Club Southport on Friday night; the size of the crowd building progressively throughout the evening.
Models vocalist Sean Kelly told me that it was “exciting to be part of a double bill with Icehouse.” and that “it was a lot of fun,” which was pretty obvious from the audience's perspective, at least. Models did much more than just warm up the crowd for headlining act, Icehouse. They were on fire and had everyone in the right mood for the rest of the night.
The band opened with an old favourite 'Two Cabs to the Toucan'. Backed with the 'big beat' (as Sean put it) of drummer Barton Price, and the backing vocals of The Chantoozies' Eve von Bibra, their set covered the gamut of Models' music from early tunes like 'Atlantic Romantic' which the singer told the crowd was 'from our sixties era', 'Local and or General' and classics like 'I Hear Motion', 'Big on Love' and, of course, a tribute to late friend and band member, James Freud with 'Barbados' and 'Out of Mind, Out of Sight'. Giving Sean a break from lead vocal duties for a bit, bassist Mark Ferrie (who also happens to play bass in the Rockwiz band, for those who might not be aware) had his turn with his cheery 'Unhappy' and keyboard player Andrew Duffield belted out the even more tongue-in-cheek 'You Know What I Like About that Guy? (Nothing)'. Introducing the very 'dancable' 'Happy Birthday IBM', Kelly admitted that, in hindsight, he perhaps should have written about APPLE instead... Not too sure how well that would have worked... The set wasn't entirely made up of the old classics. There were a few brand new tunes thrown in for good measure, including 'Drive Through Love' from the band's current EP, 'GTK'.
For their set the following night at Eatons Hill Hotel, I noticed that Models changed the set around slightly, including some songs that they didn't play the night before, such as one of my personal favourites, 'Evolution' and replaced 'Drive Through Love' with another of the new tracks from their GTK EP, 'Nothing on the the Wire' which, in my opinion, is a perfect addition to their set. “We actually changed the program a little bit,” Sean told me later. “We played some songs on the Saturday night that we didn't play on the Friday. I'm not sure if that's the reason that the crowd at Eatons Hill seemed to be more enthused.” And they certainly were an enthusiastic mob, getting into every song the band played from start to finish, both old and new. It's good to see the band back again, sounding as good as ever and the crowd was loving it!
After an amazing performance the night before at Southport, a crowd of about 1300 packed the Eatons Hill Hotel in the northern suburbs of Brisbane and the atmosphere was palpable from the moment the lights went down in the room. The band that started out as Flowers in the seventies, to eventually become known as Icehouse, was back in full swing. Opening up with 'Fatman', from the Icehouse album, and from then on, it was a continuous serving of hit after hit including 'Icehouse', 'Love In Motion', 'Hey Little Girl' 'Crazy', 'Electric Blue' and, of course, 'Great Southern Land'. Iva recently admitted to me that this was probably his favourite song to play 'live'. “I never tire of 'Great Southern Land',” he told me in a recent interview. “Not only because of what it's become and its place, I guess, in Australia's consciousness but because it's always been a very comfortable song to play. In fact, we always use it as our kind of sound check as it were to make sure that everything is in its right, proper place. It's just one of those songs. Instead of being a struggle, which some of them are, it always feels like coming home in a strange sort of way. It's a very settling thing to play.” And, judging by the response to the opening strains of that song, it was pretty obvious that the crowd is always thrilled to hear it.
As a lover of the sax, I was blown away by saxophonist Glenn Reith's performance on 'Don't Believe Anymore' and just to mix things up a bit, the guys threw in a Dubhouse version of 'No Promises'. For those not in the know, the band used the psuedonym Dubhouse when performing a few reggae shows recently, where they turned some of their songs into reggae numbers. The idea apparently went over so well that a Dubhouse CD is now available, with a live recording from one of those shows and the band has incorporated this number into their 'classic' set. Michael Paynter might be the youngest member of the band, but that doesn't mean he isn't big on talent, playing a variety of instruments and displaying his amazing vocal strengths on 'Touch the Fire'
As always, the lighting and effects on stage were a big part of the show and the constantly changing images and video clips on the screen behind the band added an extra dimension to an already impressive performance.
Icehouse ended their set with two of their earliest hits, 'Can't Help Myself' and 'We Can Get Together', before returning to the stage for the encore, a rendition of Lou Reed's 'Walk On the Wild Side' and 'Heartbreak Kid' , closing the show with 'Nothing Too Serious'.
As Iva admitted to me in a recent interview, he tends to have two completely different switches. One for performing and one for writing. “And for the moment,” he told me, “the performing mode is the dominant one.” Well, last weekend's gigs were certainly proof of that. The singer was most definitely in 'performing mode' and the band has lost none of the appeal of their early years.
My verdict of both shows? Most definitely worth the trip! Both Icehouse and Models were in top form and my only regret is that there were only two shows... Given half a chance, I'd do it all again! Follow the link and check out our gallery of photos from Southport.
To view images from RSL Club Southport click HERE
by Sharyn Hamey