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Review: Greg Phillips Photos: Jason Rosewarne

It was 1966 when Brian Cadd first emerged onto the Australian music scene with the band The Groop, followed by great success with his next band Axiom. Fifty eight years later at Memo Music Hall, he’s launching yet another studio album. Not only that, the band he’s assembled is top shelf, his voice is surprisingly strong and the performance tonight shows that at 77 years young, Cadd is still a quality artist, capable of entertaining any audience, on any stage worldwide. It’s a shame we don’t show as much respect toward our heritage acts as our American counterparts but surely Brian’s achievements are something to celebrate.

The new album (which was released on April 5th) is called Dream Train and is a return to Brian’s country and western music roots. For the album launch, Brian has employed the services of Pete Robinson on guitar, John Creech on drums, Paul Cartwright on bass, Shane Reilly on pedal steel and Clare O’Meara on fiddle and accordion, all of whom compliment the new material perfectly.

Kicking off with Eye of the Hurricane from his 2019 album Silver City, the band slid into a tight knit groove from the outset. A performer of Brian’s vintage knows all too well that you can’t just offload a giant slab of new material onto an audience and tonight he skilfully mixes the new with the classics. Going way back to ’69, Brian and band deliver a rocking version of ‘Arkansas Grass’, Axiom’s first single.

Cadd is in a playful mood, chatting to the audience like they’re all old friends (and many most likely are). He tinkers a Beethoven passage, suggesting to the crowd that it’s “Just a little something I’m working on.”

Cadd’s legacy runs so deep that it’s easy to forget many of his career accomplishments. He reminds us of the time John Farnham recorded his song ‘Don’t You Know It’s Magic’, which won the  ‘Outstanding Prize’ in 1972 at the Tokyo International Popular Song Festival, quite a big deal back in the day.

Time for a track off the Dream Train album and it’s the second single ‘The One That Got Away’, which showcases Shane Reilly’s tasteful pedal steel blending sublimely with Clare O’Meara’s fiddle. This is  a group of seasoned musicians who listen intently to each other and respond accordingly. Meanwhile the rhythm section of Creech and Cartwright hold down a solid bottom end and of course Pete Robinson’s guitar licks are eternally sublime.

Another Axiom hit ‘My Baby’s Gone’ brings a collective smile to the faces in the audience, further elevated by a countryfied version of his 1974 hit ‘Let Go’. ‘You Know What to Say’ the opening track from Dream Train offers Clare a chance to shine on piano accordion.

The Cadd Australian music history lesson continues with the Bootleg Family’s ‘Silver City Birthday Celebration Day’ before Brian takes it down notch and lays the new album title track ‘Dream Train’ on us. Stretching the memory banks, ‘Alvin Purple’ from the film of the same name gets a run tonight too. At the pointy end of proceedings Brian pulls out ‘A Little Ray of Sunshine’ and ‘Gingerman’, two of this country’s finest songwriting moments and a chance for an audience singalong. Finishing up with Loggins and Messina’s ’Your Mama Don’t Dance’, a hit for Brian’s Bootleg Family band in 1973, had the audience leaping to their feet in celebration of a joyous evening of music.

Brian’s new album Dream Train is out now

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