Dan and Alex have hooked up to do a stripped back acoustic set of shows around the nation. It is titled The Australian Dreamers Tour, because, as Dan explains. “I dream a lot -all the time-not about world peace but more like I’m running away from something but my legs are made of sweet potato”. His regular band is simply called The Dream Band. Unashamedly a dreamer.
It’s a quiet, intimate gathering as I ascend the stairs into the darkened womb of the Shark Bar. Emma Russack is meant to be opening the night but has come down with some dreaded lurgy and is resting up sucking on vitamin C. In her place is the enchanting Ilona Harker, an old friend of Dan’s from years of yore. After her set she tells me, “I’m similar to Dan”, as she’s sketching a picture of him out the back in the band room.
“Excuse me, I have to keep drawing and writing, keep my hands busy. We are both concerned with environmental issues. I write about my feelings and shit. About words and people. Experiences. I’m really a dag. I only have one old guitar”.
Alex Gow is languidly lolling on the couch. “I’m feeling very relaxed”, he says as I introduce myself.
I tell him I’ve seen his band OH MERCY a number of times and if he remembers a night down at Neverland in Coolangatta a few years ago.
“Yes”, he says, “it was someone’s 21st”.
“Yes.” I say. “It was my daughter’s 21st. I was there with my girls. They were very drunk”. We laugh.
I run into Dan on my way out. We chat about mutual friends. I remind him of the time he came into the Op-shop I was working in in Nobby’s. He was trying on a pilot’s-type jacket. I asked if he was going to wear it on stage. He seemed a bit embarrassed. I knew he was a muso. You can just tell. I dumbly blurted out, “I know you from somewhere.”
He mumbled about playing in a band with his uncle.
“Oh you’re Dan”, I exclaim. Doh.
Paul Kelly and his band had just played at Big Day Out. No biggie.
Alex starts off the set solo before Dan joins in. In the meantime I find out that half Dan’s family is here in the audience. I’m chatting with a cousin who points out, “there’s his mum and dad. And there’s Paul’s older brother”. I did a double take, he looked so much like his famous sibling. There are uncles and cousins and a whole bar full of the Kelly gang.
Dan is a story teller in the vein of his uncle, but he talks as much as he sings, Spinner of yarns. Tales of growing up around Beenleigh, living in Miami, jaunts down to Nimbin. He talks and sings his way through Baby Bonus, Deep Heat, Get On. The dreamy Everything’s Amazing with its “crystal dolphins and space yoga” themes. Alex joining from time to time. Some amusing banter.
“Mum has to go home now”, says Dan. “It’s past her bed-time.
Later Alex says something risqué. “Hey, my Dad is still here.”
Dan launches into a blistering Hendrix inspired rendition of The Star Spangled Banner, which morphs magnificently into Advance Australia Fair. Brilliant and stirring. Tugged at the heart strings a bit.
And on a magical carpet/lilo ride we are taken. Into Atlantis, escaping the apocalypse, gurgling and bubbling through a kaleidoscopic under-water world of fantasy. Bindi Irwin Apocalypse Jam, inspired by Hendrix’s 1983… a Merman I Be, and Ringo’s Octopus’s Garden. Delving in to a watery, dream-like, swirling wonderland
“Knowing my awful sense of direction, I figured I would need a tour guide, and before I knew it, I couldn’t stop the
thought. Bindi Irwin was in the song”.
Bending my thoughts to a world gone wrong
Thinking I will retire to be under the sea
Just Ringo and Terrie and Bindi and me
And Jim’s there too laying it down
Big bubbles of sound so we don’t all drown.
Yes, Dank Alley. They may say you’re a dreamer, but you’re not the only one.
Imagine… Dream on..