Promptly at 8pm, two familiar gentlemen stepped onto stage and proceeded to introduce their set and its intent through song, as the thoughtful tones of Pyke’s Makes You Happy did exactly that. Make us happy. And so we were off!
Josh Pyke and Bob Evans have carved out careers as soloists whose lyrics and melodies connect the listener to the reality of life and relationships, in a strangely reassuring way. It might be compared to a conversation with a wise grandfather, who uses the personal experience of his life to offer insight to young’uns about today’s challenges. The wry wit and banter between the two musicians had people giggling throughout, while pensively singing along to songs everyone knew. Pyke introduced Nowhere Without You, one of Evans most popular hits from 2006’s Suburban Songbook, as one of his own “favourite 300 songs of all time”, setting the tone for a night of pointed cracks at each other, always received in good fun.
Throughout the gig, Evans played Pyke’s songs, and Pyke played Evans’ songs, and they also accompanied each other when they each played their own songs. Their similar vocals, and acoustic style, lent backing vocals and harmonies, and harmonica at times, augmenting each other perfectly. Even when they acknowledged the odd mistake, the banter between the two covered any rare error and added value for the audience as we laughed with them. The gentlemen had obviously prepared well and clearly enjoyed each other’s music.
Pyke disclosed that concert ticket buyers who may not have read their emails would learn a lesson to “read the f@#k!ng instructions” as he and Bob played two exclusively released tracks for the tour, that had been sent as free downloads. Anyone who missed this opportunity quickly forgave as the haunting Desperate was played, sounding almost Simon and Garfunkel-esque, complete with a whistling interlude. Not long after, the boys played schoolyard decision-making game “Paper, Scissors, Rock” to determine who would play out the final songs before intermission. It was suggested intermissions were required at gigs now that they “were old”. Evans won and elected to bat on with classic Friend and the terribly romantic Wonderful You. I can neither confirm nor deny whether I witnessed excessive hand-holding activity amongst audience members in the venue at that time.
Post-intermission the highlight might have been a cover, a rousing rendition of the Proclaimers 500 Miles, dovetailed into Pyke’s hit Lines on Palms, and the audience embraced the singalong with gusto. Evans followed up by nailing the whistling solo for Happy Tears, and attributed his success to the humid warmth of the Gold Coast, for which he was thankful. Middle of the Hill closed the set, and when the compulsory encore demanded the bards return, the boys offered a now rarely heard composition of Basement Birds’ Not the One that had been written and recorded at Eskimo Joe Kav Temperley’s house.
A room full of happy punters departed into the night, after reminiscing throughout 10 years of shared hits from two of the best singer-songwriters Australia has produced. The soundlounge delivered another great concert and the musicianship, and beautiful melodies and harmonies, of Pyke and Evans made for a lovely Sunday evening.