45 YEARS OF SONG
Sat June 11 2011
Glenn Shorrock has had an amazing career. It’s all too easy to forget this. We live in a country where our rock royalty is doomed to play leagues clubs, RSL’s and Kerri-Ann morning television. At least there is no Hey Hey house band anymore. Believe me when I say ‘royalty’, mainly because it’s true. As a member of THREE of Australia’s most successful bands, The Twilights, Axiom and the Little River Band, Shorrocks voice has been on some of the most classic songs in Australian music history.
When Shorrock walks on stage at the Dunstan Playhouse for his second show of the day, the 67 year old is looking great and begins with the highly appropriate Days on the Road from LRB’s 1976 After Hours album. With a crack six piece band being enhanced by a four piece string section and an absolutely killer four piece horn section we are off to a good start.
“Hi I’m Glenn Shorrock. I come from Elizabeth.” He deadpans. “I hope you like old songs, coz I don’t know any new ones.” It works for this audience Glenn. Made up mainly 40 something’s, 50 something’s and 60 something’s. Follicly challenged and up for reliving the music of their youth. There is a great deal of dad chair dancing and singing along from the delighted crowd.
After telling the story of his first band The Twilights winning the Hoadleys Battle of the Bands in 1966 where the prize was “72,000 Violet Crumbles”, they bang through Needle in a Haystack and 9:50, with great pep and vigour. During 9:50 I am struck by the horn section in particular. Understated, yet utterly compelling and adding deliciously to one of my favourite songs of the era. He moves onto Axiom the short lived supergroup of sorts which featured Shorrock and Brian Cadd. So four songs in and we are already at A Little Ray of Sunshine. He let’s us know that “Brian Cadd wrote it. I sang it. I’d like to sing it for you now, despite all the things he did to me.” A timelessly classic song from the late 1960’s, which between Shorrock’s rich and full voice and backing vocals of the band it is a glorious moment.
As Glenn moves to the Little River Band material and am reminded about just how exciting it was to have an Australian band doing so well on the world stage in the 1970’s. It seemed unreal that LRB who were on Countdown all the time and playing in your town quite regularly, were filling stadiums across the globe, having top ten singles in the USA and selling millions of records. Long after the bands flame had faded here the USA were still giving them hits and screaming for more. Quite right too, they were all exceptional musicians and they had three great songwriters and their timing was impeccable. So we have Walk Away, It’s a Long Way There and Shut Down Turn Off . Introducing Reminiscing from 1978, Shorrock tells us it one of the most played songs on radio, with over five million plays in the USA alone (I’m no mathematician but it’s roughly 420 times a day for 33 years). It is also the song Fran Sinatra called “the best love song I’ve ever heard”. And who would argue with the chairman of the board? To finish the first set they band through a powerful version of the Fab Fours Please Please me, before heading off for “a cup of tea a Bex and a good lie down”.
The second half kicks off with Siene City from After Hours. A lot of these songs are prefaces with stories and vignettes form his life. The inclusion of this song is made a lot more interesting by the story of him falling for a Swedish model and wanting to “..Get back to those eyes.” There are plenty of dad jokes as you might expect. Glenn makes ‘oh my back’ gestures and flicks his long gone imaginary hair out of his face. His solo version of Bobby Darin’s Dream Lover ramps the crowd up before LRB’s Happy Anniversary comes to an abrupt halt when he messes up the first line. Shorrock and the band fall about laughing and then start again.
“This next song is about women’s lib. Remember that? We let that one get out hand didn’t we fellas?” The fellas all laugh. So do the women. It doesn’t sound the slightest bit misogynistic when he says it and it has no malice in its intent. It’s the introduction to one of my favourite LRB songs Emma. Again the horn section lifts this song to all new heights – so hats off to you guys! Home on a Monday has people tearing up with nostalgia and sounds marvellous. Help is on its Way brings the set to a close and the audience to its feet. A standing ovation and well deserved.
He returns quipping “I’m glad you did that, I have another song to do.” Named one of the greatest Australian songs of all time by APRA in 2001, Cool Change (First Under The Wire 1979) never charted in Australia but was a top ten hit in the USA. Written by Shorrock and clearly one of the LRB songs he is the most proud of, it’s given pride of place in the set. They finish off with another Beatles number Golden Slumbers from Abbey Road. They do a great job but I am a bit perplexed at the inclusion of two Beatle covers when there are so many of his own classic songs left unplayed. Axiom’s Arkansas Grass and a whole bunch of Twilights material would have made me slightly happier, but it’s a minor quibble in what was a fantastic night with a real Australian music legend.
Days on the Road
Needle in a Haystack
A Little Ray of Sunshine
It’s A Long Way There
Shut Down Turn Off
Please Please me
Home on a Monday
Help Is On its Way
Cool ChangeGolden Slumbers