A rare diamond, that is John Waite. We finally got our first Australian tour after a few past attempts and this is one evening that will leave you in awe. A ’40th Anniversary Wooden Heart’ tour that is everything except wooden. Those spellbinding vocals and lyrics of songs, peppered through history since the 70’s, leave you in a permanent state of joy, and I will never forget my first taste which was, of course, with one of Waite’s earlier bands, ‘The Babys’.
You don’t ever forget the first time that you hear Waite and what an impression to make on a music-crazy teenaged girl. When I think of him, I think of Cetera, McDonald, Anderson and Hayward etc. Those unique voices that instantly imprint onto you and stay with you over the course of your life. To finally see and hear Waite live was like the ultimate treat of all treats, the mega treat! I just knew this night was going to be something else.
To kick things off at Revesby Workers Club, we had a great support with the lovely Sarah McCleod. A thoroughly enjoyable and sweet set, Sarah finished with a gorgeous rendition of Max Merritt and The Meteors ‘Slipping Away’ which involved some enthusiastic audience participation. A great start for the indelible John Waite and it was a Babys track first in, with ‘Midnight Rendezvous’ on this initial electric set. Lord have mercy! Waite’s voice, that tone is so exceptional. I’m sure I wasn’t the only audience member who pulled the open-mouthed shocked face more than once during the night. To hear this live is just like a swell of musical waves pulling you in.
Some 80’s classic rock with ‘Change’ tearing it up next and then ‘Tears’. Waite can sing whatever he wants tonight, I’m already more than satisfied and floating away. Of course his Bad English song ‘When I See You Smile’ rips those heartstrings. Waite has a ‘salt of the earth’ voice, with such deep honesty and sincerity, and this magic tone that can weave from rock to romance. There are no words. A natural born singer and songwriter, I feel his fate was already sealed before he made it onto this earth. This is sheer vocal brilliance and there is no diminishing of power after all these years. I’m totally enthralled, as is the crowd. Waite can turn you inside out with just a phrase.
Another favourite as the Babys ‘Every Time I Think Of You’ begins with that soft and heartfelt intro, until Waite rips into those rock vocals. So stirring and raw. This is true rock at its finest. Deeply spine tingling that you just want to jump out of your skin. I’m in heaven, along with everyone else in the venue, and already thinking to myself ‘Can Waite tour again, please?’ Some early 80’s with ‘Mr Wonderful’ rounds out our first electric set as a wicked drum solo sets us up for the next acoustic journey.
Waite shows his versatility with the lovely ‘Bluebird Cafe’ and ‘Downtown”. Recalling stories of his life about writing in Nashville and living in New York, he gives us a glimpse into the life of a musical artist. A humble and genuine man, it’s a delight to listen to every word he has to say in-between songs. ‘If You Ever Get Lonely’ is yet another track that paints a picture of real life, stripping away at the core of what it means to be human.
And speaking of the core, this next song is the very epitome of human emotion. ‘Missing You’, the most recognised song by Waite but an absolute cracker and one of the best love songs ever. Just hearing those first few bars and words ‘Every time I think of you, I always catch my breath’... oh my… we all need to catch our breath is more like it. I’ve lost count how many times I held my heart tonight, and this is something I notice across the mesmerised crowd. It’s our hearts that are breaking as we finally get to hear Waite live. Covered in goosebumps, I’ll never be able to listen to Waite the same ever again.
We all attempt to recompose as he begins to sing ‘In Dreams’ from the soundtrack for the cult movie True Romance. A great cover of ‘All Along The Watchtower’ follows, which suits Waite’s voice perfectly until it’s back to some cranking Babys classics ‘Back On My Feet Again’ and ‘Isn’t It Time’. With McCleod back on stage and joining Waite on ‘Isn’t It Time”, it must be such a thrill for her to be singing with the John Waite. Lucky lady! I’m sure that song would have been the first Waite initiation back in the day of real music radio for many, as it was for me. Gorgeous vocals and melody, infused with sensational rock.
Somewhere in there, we went from acoustic back to electric but I was so engrossed that my notes barely make any sense by now. What a way to bring the house down with such dynamic and commanding rock songs. Our encore of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’ was another showcase for Waite’s gift. A fabulous night has been had by all as Waite enjoys his standing ovation and we all gaze in amazement. This is exactly how I had always dreamed Waite would be in concert. What a crushingly beautiful vocal display. I’m floored, and like everyone else in Australia, would love another tour soon after being starved for so many years.
© MARINA KNEZEVIC 2018. All Rights Reserved.
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