The room at The Palms is set up cabaret-style with a small floor-seating area at the front and five levels of tables and booths at the back. I half expected to see Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin sitting in the corner. It’s an intimate space, but not in such a way that suggests small and pokey. It would hard to get a disappointing seat.

The opening act, Abbey Stone wasn’t fazed by the initial indifference of the audience. Her strong song craft (“sass anthems”, as she describes them in the liner notes of her EP) and sultry, soulful voice commanded attention and by the end of her eight-song set. She had definitely won over some new fans.

10cc entered in darkness and launched straight into ‘The Wall Street Shuffle.’ They weren’t shy about bringing out some of the biggest hits early in the set with ‘The Things We Do For Love’ coming next. The radio-friendly harmonies were instantly recognisable and with very little prompting from the band, the crowd’s clapping along during the chorus was impressively tight.

The lush harmonies of ‘I’m Mandy Fly Me’ sounded authentically 70s and yet at the same time, not in any way dated. The tour programme quotes a Rolling Stone article from 1975 saying, “There is more going on in one 10cc song than on the last ten Yes albums.” Despite bring regarded by many as a pop band though, there’s more than a little prog rock in ‘I’m Mandy Fly Me,’ the mad opera of ‘Clockwork Creep,’ and the epic ‘Won’t Feel The Benefit,” all of which make an appearance in the set - the latter building to an amazing climax. It makes you realise that it takes a fairly special band to be able to play these multi-layered pieces alongside the straight rock and roll of ‘Good Morning Judge,’ the pure pop of ‘The Things We Do For Love,’ and the plain bonkers of ‘Dreadlock Holiday,’ without sounding in any way inconsistent.

‘I’m Not In Love,’ still probably the most perfect song of masculine emotional denial, sounded just perfect – not an exact copy of the recording but just different enough to make it special for the night, including a lovely bass solo from Graham Gouldman. This was followed by ‘Dreadlock Holiday,’ which closed the main set and had the crowd dancing in the aisles. The final repeat of the chorus was changed to “I don’t like Melbourne…” although I’m sure they say that to all the cities.

Speaking of cities, respect is due to 10cc for not just playing in the centres of the capital cities on this tour. They are playing in Bendigo tonight, Frankston on Monday and later dates include Wollongong, Airlie Beach and seven cities in New Zealand.

The encore featured a special acapella version of ‘Donna’ and of course ‘Rubber Bullets.’

There remains the lingering question of whether the band we saw last night were really 10cc. In this third incarnation of the group, Graham Gouldman is the only remaining founding member. Amicable though previous departures may have been, at what point is it no longer The Real Thing, especially in a band like 10cc where there is no single creative director? Do Brian May, Roger Taylor and two other guys really count as Queen? Equally, who is anyone else to say they don’t?

What I know is that Graham Gouldman, original touring drummer Paul Burgess, long-time guitarist Rick Fenn (whose playing was sublime) as well as Mick Wilson who took the high vocal parts and keyboardist Keith Hayman absolutely sounded like 10cc – and those harmonies are hard to fake. Not only that, but they clicked as a band. This was not Graham Gouldman and friends, nor did the two relatively new members come across in any way as hired help. They were all mates having a great time, which is what a real band should be. The show was unashamedly a greatest-hits set but it didn’t wallow in nostalgia. As far as the crowd were concerned, they didn’t like it..."THEY LOVED IT"!

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