Bernard Fanning

Bernard Fanning

I reached the Palace Theatre just in time to see second support act Big Scary. The indie pop duo from Sydney were performing with couple of touring musicians, to ramp up their sound. Tom Ianserk sings and plays guitar and piano, while Joanna Syme plays the drums. Whilst I wouldn’t exactly call them 'scary', they did have a big psychedelic sound that shook that place. Thanks to their set, I learned that one drummer isn’t enough and sometimes you need an extra person play the exact same beat on electronic drums. Tracks with Tom on guitar created a real rock vibe, and it worked, however I didn't find the rest of their set all that interesting.

Bernard Fanning came out confident. You would be too, if you had a career spanning two decades. His voice was in tip top shape and he was excited to play, as was his backing band. Fanning was supporting his second solo album and the set consisted almost entirely of Departures, and its predecessor Tea & Sympathy.

I’m not a huge Powderfinger fan, but none of the iconic songs from his former band were on show. It is intriguing that he chooses to completely separate his solo tour from his former band. Does he have so much respect for his old band that he wants it to thrive in the past, or is he a completely arrogant bastard who refuses to have anything to do with that previous set of affairs? Who knows. What I do know is that any Powderfinger fans hoping to hear ‘My Happiness’ and ‘These Days’ at the gig were in for some bad luck.

Fanning's solo work is more mellow country-folk and bluesier than the alternative rock of Powderfinger. If you were there for the rock songs, then ‘Tell Me How It Ends’ from the new album had a catchy riff, but the rest of the set was softer feel good songs. A highlight was the performance of ‘Departures (Blue Toowong Skies)’, where Fanning requested the audience to politely watch in silence as he sang a song about the death of his father and brother. Listening to the guitar and piano together, along with the powerful vocal harmonies, was very touching, I have to say.

There were a couple of surprises in the mix: an unreleased song from T&D, as well as ending the set with a George Harrison song. Oddly, the cover came after ‘Wish You Well’, which is Fanning’s most well known solo hit. I've never understood ending with a cover song when you can leave the audience satiated with one your hits.

Give Fanning’s solo records a listen and if you like them, you’ll enjoy his live show: just don’t expect to hear any trace of Powderfinger.

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