JON STEVENS AT THE SHARKS LEAGUES CLUB
VICTORIA POINT, BRISBANE 3rd APRIL 2009
Friday night’s inclement weather in Brisbane might have kept some fans away from The Sharks Leagues Club at Victoria Point but those dedicated enough to brave the elements were well rewarded with an incredible evening of entertainment by rock superstar and Noiseworks front man, Jon Stevens.
Long recognised as having one of the finest and most commanding voices on the Australian music scene, Stevens has earned himself a reputation for being one of the hardest working and most consistent performers in the industry. He never seems to be far from the public eye – or ear, as the case may be – whether performing his own material as a solo artist or fronting powerhouse bands such as Noiseworks and, for a time, INXS.
With no support act on the night, Jon, with the help of two backup musicians, captivated the audience with an enhanced acoustic set that included an eclectic blend of the singer’s original solo material, interspersed with some covers and his own versions of some of Noiseworks’ biggest hits. It was not, by any means, the average laid back, intimate, unplugged performance some might have expected of an ‘acoustic’ show. While proceedings might have got off to a slow start, the atmosphere, and volume, built steadily throughout the set.
The rousing ‘Touch’ was an early inclusion, lifting the mood and drawing a few very excitable female fans closer to the stage as they responded excitedly to Jon’s calls to ‘reach out and touch somebody...’ Surprisingly, he wasn’t dragged into the crowd but it was not for their want of trying. At one point, the microphone turned into a flying missile, falling with a thud on the dance floor. For a moment, the singer seemed a little lost up there on stage, as he waited patiently for the fans to return the souvenir that had just landed at their feet. Given the power of his voice, I can’t help but wonder if he ever really needed it to begin with.
Halfway through the set, Jon’s R&B interpretation of The Doors’ classic, ‘Light My Fire’, brought loud cheers and, I dare say, earned the man a few new admirers. Among the many requests shouted by the crowd, The Choirboys’ ‘Run To Paradise’ was something of a ring-in and Jon appeared to be slightly bemused by the choice of song but cheerfully obliged, albeit stumbling over a few of the lyrics. The audience was only too happy to help out by chanting the chorus in full voice, word for word, prompting him to comment, with a smile, “You know the words to that one a little too well!”
As the night progressed, Jon seemed to draw more and more energy from the crowd’s enthusiasm and poured it all back into his performance, giving it his all.
The crowd cheered appreciatively when, during ‘No Lies’, Stevens launched into the chorus from Kings of Leon’s ‘Sex On Fire’. Many people have noted the similarities between the Kings and Noiseworks; A fact that, clearly, has not escaped the singer’s attention.
‘Take Me Back’ was undeniably a crowd favourite and a sizzling ‘Hot Chilli Woman’ wrapped up the set.
The inevitable screams for ‘More! More! More!’ brought Jon and his band back on stage for the much-anticipated encore which included ‘In My Youth’ and a brilliant rendition of the INXS classic ‘Never Tear Us Apart’, which sent the crowd wild.
An announcement that Jon would meet fans and sign autographs after the show saw the punters lining up to buy CD’s and have them signed. The singer stayed for half an hour or so, signing autographs, posing for photos and keeping everybody happy. And, no doubt, racking up a few sales in the process.
It is a shame this was Stevens’ only Brisbane show. I spoke to a number of people there who were very keen to see him again. Even without the benefit of a full rock outfit behind him, his raw energy and powerful vocal ability shines through.
If Jon Stevens plays a gig near you any time soon, do yourself a favour and rock along to see him. I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed.