Review by Greg Phillips. Photos by Jason Rosewarne.
Buoyed by the success of their huge open air concert at Hope Estate in the Hunter Valley last year, fans were elated to hear that celtic pop rock phenomenon The Corrs would be back in 2023 for a full blown national tour of Australia. We’re a country that has connected with the band from day one.
Maybe it’s due to their fine family principles but the Irish quartet know a thing or two about value for money. At their Hope Estate gig in 2022, the band generously offered three other classy acts as supports and so too on this tour, they were joined by South Australian siblings Germein, US late-80s chart topper Toni Childs and our own international pop darling Natalie Imbruglia.
Consequently the show at Rod Laver Arena got off to an early start at 6pm, with the headliner not due on stage until 9.30. With many attendees still making their way into the venue, Germein didn’t take long to prove that they’d well and truly deserved their place on this exceptional bill. Georgia Germein kicked the set off delivering a slick intro solo on her fetching Telecaster (nice tone too) before sisters Ella on bass and Clara on drums launched into their opening tune, immediately uncovering a notable degree of musicianship. The three talented sisters can clearly play well and harmonise fabulously. Remind you of anyone? It’s no surprise they share the same international management as The Corrs. It takes a great deal of confidence and self-belief to ask a quarter filled venue, still navigating their seats to participate in singing and clapping to songs many would never have heard before but the boundless energy and encouragement of the girls seemed to have cut through. It’s only a matter of time before this band will be headlining both here and overseas more often than not.
Toni Childs has been an Australian resident for over decade now, so it’s not unusual to see her occasionally popping up at venues around the country. The acclaimed singer songwriter started her set sitting on the edge of the stage, boots dangling over it and exclaimed that she “was going to play some old shit from thirty frickin years ago.” Toni enjoyed massive success in the late eighties and early nineties with global hits such as ‘I’ve Got To Go Now’, ‘Stop Your Fussin’’, ‘House of Hope’ and ‘Don’t Walk Away’ and to the delight of the audience, these were the four songs she opened her set with. She also added that the second half of her set “would be from now and the future”, as Toni proceeded to show that she has lost none of her songwriting smarts nor vocal power, sounding as vital as she did back in the day. With an impressive seven piece band that added deft light and shade to Childs’ dynamic vocals, the audience lapped up the joyous rhythms emanating from the stage. With the inspirational set closer ‘I Believe In You’, Childs headed out into the audience to spread the love and the Melbourne crowd had no trouble returning the favour.
Natalie Imbruglia burst onto the stage encouraging the audience to clap their hands from the get-go, winning them over immediately by telling us she was so glad she was in a town where she could find a decent coffee. The former Melbourne resident and Ramsay Street identity had a full hour to work the crowd and did so with ease, delivering a surprising number of hits that came rushing back from everyone’s memory banks. After performing a few tracks from her 2022 album Firebird, such as ‘Maybe It’s Great’, ‘Build It Better’, and ‘Just Like Old Times’, those heckling for her biggest hit ‘Torn’ were finally rewarded with her penultimate song of her performance and unsurprisingly, they sung along with gusto. ‘Big Mistake’, another chart topper for Natalie ended her energetic set.
Following a dramatic video intro, the spotlight shone on The Corrs drummer Caroline as she summoned the rest of the band to the stage with her thunderous beats. Launching into ‘Only When I Sleep’, one of the band’s biggest hits, the excitement levels on the sold out Rod Laver Arena crowd were already peaking. It wasn’t until the end of the third song ‘Summer Sunshine’ that Andrea Corr finally addressed the audience, telling them that a trip back to Melbourne felt like a homecoming, reminding us that it had been twenty years since they’ve been back. She told us that “There’s a lot of awfulness going on in the world today but not here, there’s only love, so let’s have an amazing evening together.” As Sharon’s beautiful fiddle strains rang out around the venue, the poignant ‘Forgiven, Not Forgotten” followed. A version of ‘Little Lies’, recorded as an addition to an upcoming new ‘best of’ collection and a tribute to the passing of Fleetwood Mac’s Christine MacVie was immaculate, matching or even surpassing the original. Their take on the Hendrix version of ‘Little Wing’ was sublime.
‘Joy of Life’ brought us the first Irish jig of the night, elevating the audience’s zeal up another notch. It’s a unique feature of the band that they can switch so seamlessly from pure pop and stunning ballads to the effervescence of traditional Irish music in a heartbeat and take the audience along with them on their dynamic journey. ‘Ellis Island’ showcased the extraordinary vocal capacity of the girls before ‘Haste to the Wedding’ brought the traditional Irish rhythms to the fore again, showcasing Caroline’s percussive mastery of the Bodhran and highlighting Andrea’s tin whistle skills. Displaying their Fleetwood Mac heart on their sleeves, ‘Dreams’ the second cover from that band for the night was executed with the same finesse and respect as Little Lies earlier in the evening.
The encore gave us Breathless, the first hit from their 2000 album In Blue, leading into Sharon’s gorgeous fiddle intro to Runaway. Andrea’s attempt to begin the first verse of the song was thwarted by the audience who voluntarily took over vocal duties. As Andrea again tried to contribute, the crowd sung louder as she slumped to her knees in adoration of the crowd’s vocal endearment. ’Toss The Feathers’ coerced everyone in the house to their feet, ending a joyous night of music, played by real musicians with golden voices, a ‘feck you’ to all those pre-programmed, miming, mega shows that we reward all too often with our ticket money.
Set List-Rod Laver Arena
Only When I Sleep
Give Me a Reason
Forgiven, Not Forgotten
What Can I Do
Don’t Say You Love Me
(Jimmy MacCarthy cover)
Joy of Life
Haste to the Wedding
Queen of Hollywood
(Fleetwood Mac cover)
I Never Loved You Anyway
Toss the Feathers
More photos from Jason Rosewarne