Review: The Whitlams supported by Ella Hooper and Bob Evans at The Corner Hotel, Melbourne, June 20th, 2019

Late last year, Aussie music legends The Whitlams announced that they would be hitting the road.

While a tour from the group usually doesn’t need much explanation, this time, they were heading out with a purpose, announcing plans to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Love This City.

Their fourth record, Love This City peaked at #3 on the ARIA charts back in the day, and spawned a number of exceptional singles which rate among some of the best the group ever recorded.

“I have identified 12 songs and two bonus tracks that I still want to play from Love This City, and that will make up the core of the shows this May and June,” explained The Whitlams’ frontman Tim Freedman.

“The other half of the rambunctious long set will wander widely through the other five albums, stopping off for six minutes at Bob Dylan’s ‘Tangled Up In Blue’, which it’s time to play again.”

True to their word, Thursday night saw The Whitlams making a triumphant return to their old stomping ground of Melbourne’s Corner Hotel to honour the anniversary of one of their most iconic releases in style.

Check out ‘Love This City’ by The Whitlams:

YouTube VideoPlay

While it was a cold and rainy evening in Melbourne on Thursday night, this did not faze a single member of the evening’s audience, with countless fans seeking refuge in the Corner Hotel’s warm interior.

As we gathered inside the Richmond venue, the mood was one of nostalgia and excitability, with hordes of Whitlams fans reminiscing about where they were the first time they heard the band, or the first time they listened to Love This City.

Before we heard too much more though, the crowd was treated to a stunning set from Ella Hooper, who helped warm up her hometown audience with an all-too short set full of solo material.

Noting that we might remember her from “such bands as Killing Heidi and The Verses”, Hooper and keyboardist Mads Davey were decked out in self-described ’70s outfits to help kick the evening off in style.

Opening her set with ‘Interust (The Slow Death)’, Hooper’s sound was far larger and expansive than any onlooker would expect, with her powerful voice extending to the very back of the room with each and every syllable.

Joking with the crowd between songs (and sips of red wine), Hoop soon jumped into a few songs describing break-ups (a topic she noted she hadn’t been familiar with for many years), causing most fans to almost instantly relate to the lyrics being belted out.

Throwing down the catchy ‘Detritus’, the “punktry” ‘Break Up Blonde’, and then the emotional Verses track, ‘The Winter’, Hooper’s set gave the crowd a chance to witness every facet of her varied performance style, ranging from the upbeat, to the more somber and emotional, and everything in between.

Following a performance of ‘Red Shoes’ (which hides a far more “kinky” meaning than its sunny disposition implies), Hooper topped things off with the slow-burner that is ‘Everything Was A Sign’, sneakily letting us know there was a surprise in store for later, and leaving us to wonder how her stunning set could be topped.

Check out ‘Red Shoes’ by Ella Hooper:

YouTube VideoPlay

As the crowd slowly grew larger, it slowly became evident that this was set to be one show that we would not soon forget, with a short intermission coming to an end as none other than the great Bob Evans took the stage.

Noting that being at The Corner Hotel “feels like an old, well-worn boot”, Evans took a moment to note that his first time at the venue was back in the ’90s while fronting Jebediah. However, with old mate Kevin Mitchell now upgraded to the larger stage, he gave us an excited cry of “look at me now” as he kicked off his set.

Armed with a guitar decked out with what appeared to be Christmas lights, Bob Evans jumped into a rendition of ‘Darlin’ Won’t You Come?’, proving that he’s the sort of musician who could sing the phone book and have his fans weep with adoration.

Undoubtedly one of those musicians who has never written a bad song, this fact was no more apparent than it was on stage tonight, with Evans delivering a gorgeous set of old and new classics, including ‘Friend’, ‘Don’t Wanna Grow Up Anymore’, and ‘Someone So Much’.

Unfortunately, his set was marred by a crowd who seemed to enjoy talking amongst themselves too much, treating one of the country’s greatest performers as if he were little more than free entertainment in the corner of a pub.

Thankfully though, this didn’t affect Bob’s performance, tearing through songs such as ‘Pasha Bulker’, ‘Don’t You Think It’s Time’, and ‘Wonderful You’, feeling as though we were witnessing an old friend on stage singing his endearing songs to you at every turn.

Of course, while dedicated fans noted a glaring omission by way of the adored ‘Nowhere Without You’, Bob Evans too took his leave from the stage, ensuring that we were already two for two in a night of performances from classic Aussie artists.

Check out ‘Pasha Bulker’ by Bob Evans:

YouTube VideoPlay

Following a rather short intermission, it soon became clear that we were about to witness the night’s main event, with the lights going down, the curtains parting, and the sounds of the Handsome Boy Modelling School welcoming The Whitlams to the stage before us.

Walking out to the sounds of ‘Look At This Face (Oh My God They’re Gorgeous)‘ (which incidentally pre-dates Love This City by merely a fortnight), the familiar faces of Tim Freedman, Jak Housden, Warwick Hornby, and Dave Hibbard (filling in for Terepai Richmond) kicked things off in a stellar fashion.

Instantly jumping into the opening riff of ‘Gough’, the group instantly showed us that this evening was going to be a belter, with Freedman’s iconic voice ringing out throughout the venue, as the Ringo Starr-looking Housden ripped through those slick riffs and chords with the utmost of ease.

Dipping into tracks like ‘Charlie No. 3’ (“this is my song!” one audience member yells), and ‘Fall For You’, it was clear that the formalities were now over, with The Whitlams jumping into the album that brought us all together this evening.

Describing album opener ‘Make The World Safe’ as “the only love ballad in the set, so enjoy it while it lasts”, our swooning hearts were soon jolted into rock mode, as ‘Thank You (For Loving Me At My Worst)’ brought forth the singalongs, and the huge chorus of ‘Pretty As You’ proved it to be the loudest track of the night.

As the album’s title-track reminded us of the ambivalent nature many Sydneysiders felt towards the Olympic games all those years ago, Freedman noted that his first visit to The Corner had been in 1987, and therefore felt the venue was worth a “rock n roll boogie”, which was soon delivered by way of ‘Royal In The Afternoon’.

Check out ‘Thank You (For Loving Me At My Worst)’ by The Whitlams:

YouTube VideoPlay

While we were indeed here to celebrate the anniversary of Love This City, it was clear that we would have to mix up the set a little bit in order to keep things nice and fresh.

With singles like ‘Blow Up The Pokies’ and ‘Made Me Hard’ appearing between tunes like ‘400 Miles From Darwin’ and ‘God Drinks At The Sando’, The Whitlams took us on a trip back to 1997’s Eternal Nightcap to show us why they hit the big time in the first place.

Following tunes like ‘Up Against The Wall’ and a mesmerising version of ‘No Aphrodisiac’, fans were treated to a rather unexpected collaboration, with Bob Evans returning to the stage to belt out a full band version of ‘Nowhere Without You’.

With Ella Hooper’s promise of a surprise coming true, and Bob Evans fans receiving that missing track from the setlist, Tim Freedman helped sing backup vocals on the track, all the while delivering that piano backing that helps anchor the track.

Following a gorgeous, pub choir-driven version of ‘Buy Now Pay Later (Charlie No. 2)’, fans were treated to some of the band’s most recent album (yes, even 13 years on it still counts as “most recent”), before the main set tended towards its end.

Resurrecting their cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Tangled Up In Blue’ (prefaced by a discussion about when it was actually released), The Whitlams undoubtedly did Bob proud, as Freedman’s voice even found itself coming awfully close to mimicking the folk icon at times.

However, after throwing down a massive version of ‘You Sound Like Louis Burdett’, which featured an impromptu mosh from eager fans, and one of the night’s biggest guitar solos from Jak Housden, the group soon bade us farewell, and wandered off stage, leaving us wanting so much more.

Check out ‘You Sound Like Louis Burdett’ by The Whitlams:

YouTube VideoPlay

Thankfully, the inevitable encore soon arrived, with ‘Charlie No. 1’ prompting another singalong, before a fan soon encouraged The Whitlams to indulge “the rainy city” with a performance of the stellar ‘Melbourne’.

Obliging the request, the set was soon topped off by a raucous version of 2001’s ‘I Will Not Go Quietly (Duffy’s Song)’, closing the lid on one of the most exciting sets from one of the greatest Australian bands of all time.

While not every track from Love This City got a look-in (‘Time’, ‘Her Floor Is My Ceiling’, ‘There’s No One’, and the absolute belter that is ‘Chunky Chunky Air Guitar’ fell by the wayside), The Whitlams proved that even 20 years on, their fourth record still sounds as fresh as ever.

With singles that have since become undeniable pieces of Australian culture, and tunes whose opening note sparks deafening singalongs, there is very little that The Whitlams can’t do, and putting on a bad show is just one of those things.

If you’re looking for a quiet night out at a gig, you won’t find it at a Whitlams show, with the band’s iconic tunes and wild performance style making it impossible not to lose yourself in the music, the vibe, and the memories that their stunning songs conjure up.

They’ve been one of the country’s greatest bands for many years now, and judging by Thursday night’s performance, that won’t be changing any time soon.

Check out ‘I Will Not Go Quietly (Duffy’s Song)’ by The Whitlams:

YouTube VideoPlay

The Whitlams @ The Corner Hotel, Melbourne 20/6/19 Setlist

‘Charlie No. 3’
‘Fall For You’
‘Make The World Safe’
‘Thank You (For Loving Me At My Worst)’
‘Pretty As You’
‘You Gotta Love This City’
‘Royal In The Afternoon’
‘Year Of The Rat’
‘God Drinks At The Sando’
‘Blow Up The Pokies’
‘400 Miles From Darwin’
‘Made Me Hard’
‘Up Against The Wall’
‘No Aphrodisiac’
‘Nowhere Without You’ (Bob Evans cover with Bob Evans)
‘Buy Now Pay Later (Charlie No. 2)’
’12 Hours’
‘Keep The Light On’
‘High Ground’
‘I Make Hamburgers’
‘Tangled Up In Blue’ (Bob Dylan cover)
‘You Sound Like Louis Burdett’


‘Charlie No. 1’
‘I Will Not Go Quietly (Duffy’s Song)’

The Whitlams ‘Last Drinks At The Morrison Hotel’ Tour

(Remaining Dates)

Friday, June 21st, 2019
With Bob Evans and Ella Hooper
Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Saturday, June 22nd, 2019
With Ella Hooper
Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Friday, June 28th, 2019
With Special Guests
Mackay Entertainment & Convention Centre, Mackay, QLD

Saturday, June 29th, 2019
With Special Guests
Pilbeam Theatre, Rockhampton, QLD

Sunday, June 30th, 2019
With Special Guests
Gladstone Entertainment Convention Centre, Gladstone, QLD

Thursday, July 4th, 2019
With Bob Evans and Ella Hooper
Astor Theatre, Perth, WA

Tickets to The Whitlams upcoming tour are available from their website

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