To think this was a 40th anniversary tour is just unbelievable. Like most fans, my memories are from way back and start with the Donnie Sutherland “Sounds” era. Those Saturday morning music shows that were the crux of our musical youth, along with the seminal Sunday evening of Molly Meldrum’s “Countdown”. It would have been the Flowers music clips that got my attention first, those brilliant new wave, synth tracks that still get you moving to this day. Then, by the time Icehouse evolved, all it did was add so much more depth, insane admiration and love for these musicians that when I think about seeing them live again, I get all giddy and ‘goose bumpy’. Such staples in my music collection that trying to think of music without them is really unfathomable. Not just one of the best Aussie bands but one of the best bands ever and I could hardly contain myself for last night’s Sydney Enmore Theatre gig.
Seeing the crowd arrive and make their way to seating is something I don’t usually watch but for Icehouse it’s a different feeling. There’s a united, happy camaraderie here. There are grins from ear to ear and happy auras that you can sense. This is the magic of Icehouse and everyone knows they are in for a great show, with some of the best music and most endearing tunes coming to life.
After a great support set from Timi Temple (one to watch for sure..), it was time to let go and be absorbed. Our first track ‘Icehouse‘ perfectly sets the scene. Just those first few beats entice you in so quickly. It’s the start of synth dreamland – a wistful, reflective feeling, almost melancholy but not that sad. I’m wrapped up so quickly that I can’t wait for each favourite to come through.
As our evening progresses, and after ‘Mr Big‘, it was time for ‘Hey Little Girl‘. Oh, the memories of youth and that unique sound and vocals, just stunning. Again, just those first few bars and lyrics are like the biggest high, and you haven’t even heard the rest of the song … ‘When everything goes wrong, sometimes it makes no sense’…. this is more than just stomach butterflies. I feel that way with most of their songs and can’t explain it but I think people get what I mean. Again, it happens with ‘Crazy‘ … those glorious Iva Davies vocals just kill me, in a good way. I have to stop getting all ‘happy/teary’ in public, waiting for that vocal peak as it’s only going to get harder to control.
Our next track ‘No Promises‘ is another atmospheric gem. This ability to draw you into another world with those perfect and succinct vocals and instruments is just Heaven. Beautifully composed and just in another realm, I easily forget I’m not on my own here. Then a sax solo kicks in at the end and another layer of cherries just gets added to my already rich Black Forest cake. Being a massive sax lover, I need to lap it up as we don’t get it much live across the board anymore, which is a travesty. Time now for some ‘Electric Blue’, another classic and legendary song which will mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. I seem to have a time and a place for most Icehouse songs – they are that dominant, it’s remarkable. More great vocals and some more luscious sax while we hear the lyrics ‘In those eyes‘… I could be a kid again.
Next up were ‘Touch the Fire‘, ‘Fatman‘ and then ‘Don’t Believe Anymore‘. I have many favourites but this song just does something that I can’t put into words. That sax, the feeling, the lyrics, the vocals – the build up is palpable. All Icehouse songs have this uniqueness and layering, like a higher dimension. Some of my favourite sax is Icehouse sax and this is just one of the best things in the world. If I keep going on, it might get a little risque. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.
Only half way through and I’m so content, like a child being allowed to gorge on their favourite chocolate. Keep it coming, I say. And it does, with a stunning rendition of ‘The Kingdom‘ and the serenely engaging ‘Man Of Colours’ , which I adore live with Michael Paynter and Iva Davies vocals. The gorgeous oboe adding yet another thick brushstroke to this musical masterpiece. Everyone is just gone during ‘Man of Colours‘, I can see and feel it in the whole theatre. So much power within so many songs that by the time we get to ‘Great Southern Land‘, the atmosphere has shifted once again. It’s one of the most well known Aussie pride songs but it’s one with a difference, and deserves to have its song title on one of the new Qantas Dreamliner planes making its way to our shores over the coming 12 months. What an honour for Icehouse.
Unexpectedly, some Bowie made it in to the set when ‘The Jean Genie‘ smashed the stage and the crowd went wild, then continuing with some cranking Bolan and another great version of ‘Get It On‘. The rowdy Saturday night crowd couldn’t get enough and more people snuck into the front to dance their butts off. Then it was back in time to some of the best 80’s songs we have ever heard when ‘We Can Get Together‘ and ‘I Can’t Help Myself‘ tear it up. I could be in my living room with the TV on as a kid but I’m here at the Enmore with many choice dance moves coming out left, right and centre as the crowd lets loose again. No one wants to go home and I confirm with a fellow fan that tonight had more songs in the set list than the previous night. So when we finish with ‘Nothing Too Serious‘, we are all more than happy, this is elation! We have all been treated to yet another brilliant live Icehouse performance.
How to describe ‘The Icehouse Effect’? I, for one, just can’t imagine not being able to experience this phenomenal band live. Whilst touring is such a hard slog, I feel that it is essential to Australia, and our musical sanity, that we have an ‘Annual Icehouse Australian Tour’ so that we can get our regular fix. More than just national treasures, Icehouse, and the supremely talented Iva Davies, exist on a different platform. Musical masterpieces that evoke such passion, we are so fortunate to have them here and to have lived in this time, and all the sold out venues across Australia are proof to that fact.