STEVE KILBEY @ Lyric’s Underground gets 7/10

Steve Kilbey and the Hoffmenn @ Lyric’s Underground
w/ Tanaya Harper

Saturday, March 7, 2020


Australian music icon Steve Kilbey came to Perth for a string of events this past week, culminating in Saturday night’s satisfying show at Lyric’s Underground in Maylands. Underground is the purpose-built music venue incorporated into Lyric Lane’s downstairs basement, with a melange of food, wine, craft beer and other gastronomic delights that are briefly glimpsed as you descend into the depths for your musical adventures.

Tanaya Harper

Opener Tanaya Harper provided a suitably enticing first act. Harper began by coaxing shimmering chords from her Stratocaster and releasing them to wash across the early crowd, softening them up. The mood was subdued to start, polished concrete walls lit in blue and red like so much litmus paper. Would the night pass the test?

Yes, indeed. Harper’s spiky tales of relationships veering into troubled waters kept the crowd attentive. Harper was working alone and seemed to miss her band a bit, but she gave us a few vocalised guitar solos and that was good enough for the punters.

Steve Kilbey

A brief break and then somebody sneaked onstage behind his band, not bothering to acknowledge the applause that broke out when he was spotted. Instead, we got some chiming acoustics (12-strings only, please) and mandolin work, before the drums and Steve Kilbey’s bass. Look, there’s a cello – waiting quietly, waiting some more, but when she came into the mix, she came in sweetly. A mesmerising drone and we were off in style. Next up was a bit more up-tempo – When I Love Her She Sings, from Kilbey’s most recent solo album, Sydney Rococo which furnished a lot of the night’s material.

As Kilbey worked through tunes like Once, The Lonely City and Ancient World, we were treated to a voice like old oak over a changing palette of electric guitars, 12-string acoustics, cello, and bass. Occasionally the bass dropped out entirely to let cellist Anna Sarcich take the band on her shoulders, with terrific results. The rest of the Fremantle-based Hoffmen were equally able. Musical director Marley Wynn and Shaun Corlson were strumming and picking as required, with Shaun Hoffmann holding down the groove on a simple but elegant kit. Between them they had the crowd shuffling and swaying even for the tunes that were neither greatest hits nor dance numbers – high praise.

Steve Kilbey

Kilbey delivered a decent serve of big tunes from his Church days, in deference to the fans. But he’s still striving to be a vital artist, and this wasn’t a revue… So he couldn’t resist hamming things up a tiny bit at the outset of The Unguarded Moment. The band moved through the older material pretty quickly but even so, the audience couldn’t help singing along to the choruses. For Under The Milky Way, the mobile phones came out in force to record the magic moment.

That out of the way, Kilbey ran through a four-song encore (four!), sending the crowd on its way with some uptempo work, and even a song about a car. A ’69 Chevy, if you must know, and thank you very much for coming out, ladies and gentlemen!


Photos by Alan Holbrook

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