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Easyfever: Melbourne Forum, December 19,2018. Review: Greg Phillips. Photos: Jason Rosewarne

Back in 2007, for the 50th print issue of Australian Musician, we got together a panel of respected music writers to ponder the 50 Most Significant Moments in Australian Pop/Rock. The panel had decided that the MOST significant moment in Australian pop/rock history was the day in 1963 that teenagers George Young and Harry Vanda had met each other in the Villawood (NSW) migrant hostel. Had that meeting not occurred, The Easybeats, AC/DC, Albert Productions and many other notable Australian acts may not have existed.

Tonight at Melbourne’s magnificent Forum Theatre, the importance of that Vanda and Young pairing is further emphasised as Phil Jamieson, Chris Cheney, Tim Rogers, Kram, and Tex Perkins, backed by a killer band, celebrate the music of The Easybeats, Stevie Wright and Vanda and Young in style.

Phil Jamieson kicks off the night with a cheeky version of ‘Woman (Make You Feel Alright)’. The two guitarists Jak Housden (musical director) and Ash Naylor, keen to nail an authentic 60s sound are donned in semi hollow bodied guitars and create a fitting vibe. Tim Rogers presents ‘She’s So Fine’ with exuberance. Next up, Tex fronts for ‘For My Woman’ as each of the five guest vocalists¬† take their turn in the spotlight. We’re merely minutes into the show and already three Easybeats’ classics have been delivered. Chris Cheney digs deeper into the catalogue with the psychedelic ‘Who’ll Be The One’, an obscure Easybeats’ single from 1967. However it’s Kram’s rockin’ ‘Sorry’ which really gets the party started, as he goads the crowd to raise their hands and get vocal. Chris Cheney joins Kram for the pumpin’ ‘I’ll Make You Happy’ before a break allows us all to catch our breath.

Kram and Chris leap to the stage to declare part two of the show open as they take us back to 1963 with a lesser known pop nugget titled ‘Not In Love With You’. It’s not long before The Easybeats’ biggest hit ‘Friday On My Mind’ is revealed featuring Phil Jamieson on lead vocals, with the crowd by this time fully engrossed in the spirit of the show and singing along. Cheney and Kram return for the Stevie Wright solo hit ‘Guitar Band’ and the guitars are cranked up a notch. From this moment forward it’s less about The Easybeats and more a nod and wink to Vanda and Young’s legacy. Tex and Tim combine forces to crunch ‘Black Eyed Bruiser’, followed by an epic rendition of Flash and the Pan’s ‘Hey St Peter’. Noticeably, Dario Bortolin on bass and Dave Hibberd on drums are providing a thumpin’ rhythm section to drive this band. We’re then reminded of how far and wide the Vanda and Young net has been cast as Tex Perkins launches into a hypnotic version of ‘Walking In The Rain’, a Vanda and Young song made famous by Grace Jones. Who thought they’d ever hear a live version of Flash and the Pan’s ‘Down Among The Dead Men’? Previously viewed as a throwaway novelty song, the band inject some real juice into the ditty and the crowd rock along accordingly.

Kram announces a song he idolised when he saw it performed regularly on television of a Sunday evening. His mum is in the audience and he dedicates it to her. Cheney chips in to say his mum is in the crowd too. As they sling into ‘Yesterday’s Hero’, it’s almost like the event has transformed into a live version of Countdown. Tim Rogers thrusts us back into some psychedelia with ‘The Music Goes Around My Head’ before the cast return for the epic ‘Evie parts 1, 2 and 3’, and monumental it is too. A rousing ‘Good Times’ is a pertinent end to memorable evening. Much more than an Easybeats tribute show, it’s a glorious celebration of Australian music history.

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