The Adelaide Music Collective is the brainchild of home-again Adelaide drummer Enrico “Mick” Morena – and what a great idea it is. The aim of the AMC Sessions is to showcase the best of Adelaide music talent in six great concert line-ups throughout the year at the Goodwood Institute, with each show featuring three acts with a national and/or international profile.
Morena and his cohorts, drawn from the cream of the Adelaide music scene, will also take responsibility for the AMC SA Music Hall of Fame, with 12 worthy inductees each year to be rewarded for a lifetime of excellence in the industry.
The first showcase concert of the series took place on Friday night, with the first two worthy Hall of Fame inductees also announced.
After an appropriate “welcome to country”, host for the evening Taasha Coates (The Audreys) joined Morena on stage to introduce the acts: soulful Indigenous singer Nancy Bates, with John Baker (The Baker Suite); indie pop band Echo and the Empress, and legends John Schumann and Hugh McDonald (Redgum).
Bates was a revelation, with her magnificently pure, powerful voice and tasteful guitar. She presented a set of her own tunes, dealing with the difficulties Indigenous women encounter in their relationships with their men. Her now regular collaborator John Baker’s imaginative guitar work and spot-on harmonies enhanced the songs beautifully.
The second act, indie pop band Echo and the Empress, represented the future of local music. This was one of their final gigs before heading off to play the prestigious Glastonbury Music Festival in England. Their songs are delightfully written classic melodic pop tunes with imaginative arrangements. The instrumentation and vocal performances need more work for this to be a real quality act, but that will come – I would love to see them after about three years really hard work and a million gigs.
Following intermission, radio legend David Day (who also provided his excellent memorabilia collection for display in the entrance foyer) took the stage to interview and present the first two inductees of the Hall of Fame. It would be hard to find two more worthy recipients than Peter Tilbrook (The Masters Apprentices) and John Bywaters (The Twilights), who regaled us with tales tall and true from their legendary past, before accepting their awards and belting out their hits “Needle in a Haystack” (The Twilights) and “Turn Up Your Radio” (Masters Apprentices). It was proof that great rockers never lose the skill; the joint was rockin’ as the boys, ably assisted by drummer Bill Schapel, tore the place apart.
If all this was good (and it was), John Schumann and Hugh McDonald took it to another level with their stunning acoustic performance of Redgum hits from the ’80s and selections from Schumann’s Henry Lawson-based album. Schumann was superb, his magnificently unique voice barking out the lyrics to his own songs, including “It’ll be All Right in the Long Run”, “Poor Ned” and the amusing “I Went to Plympton High”. His voice and guitar were magnificently enhanced by the pure harmonies and awesome guitar work of the gifted McDonald, and his lead vocal on his own Redgum tune, “Diamantina Drover”, was spellbinding. The highlight was the inevitable “19” to finish the show – it’s as moving today as it has always been, still presented emotionally and dramatically.
The first of the AMC Sessions was a great success and tribute to the efforts of Morena and his hard-working team to do something positive for the local music scene. It’s a timely reminder of the musical talent in Adelaide and proof that appreciative audiences will turn up to shows like this.
The second performance in the AMC Sessions series will take place at the Goodwood Institute on May 16.
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