Friday night saw a large dose of nostalgia hit the Tuggeranong Valley, with the long awaited “Living in the 70’s” show at the Auditorium in Erindale. The Vikings club had brought together 3 cover bands, to reproduce the hits of the Carpenters, Abba and The Bee Gees.
Having seen my share of really good cover bands in my time, this little wood duck and his wife were looking forward to a great evening’s entertainment. We had a good time, but were bitterly disappointed in parts, enough to write a subjective critique for RA.
The first act called themselves “The Carpenters from Mudgee”. The girl playing the now deceased Karen Carpenter was musically outstanding. Her voice, her timing, her feeling for the songs could have convinced a member of the original Carpenter family that Karen had been reincarnated. Her male partner did some outstanding backing vocals and harmonies. What spoiled it for me was that they felt the need to incorporate a comedy routine, which tried to bring Cath & Kim into the show. “Karen” changed constantly from that beautiful singing voice to a high pitched screech, trying to impersonate Kim. The jokes were flat and unnecessary, as their music was good enough to stand “On its own”.
The second act was “Simply Abba”. Having seen the original Abba cover band “BABBA” years ago, and who were in every way outstanding, these guys were weak and disappointing. Only one of the quartet appeared to be a strong singer, able to do justice to the songs of the Swedish superstars. The girl with the peroxide wig playing Agnetha, produced some powerful vocals. The girl playing Frieda left a lot to the imagination. She kept grinning in such an natural way, that she looked like Barbie meets Abba, and like the first act, felt the need to bring comedy in to play. Comedians they were not, and when was Abba a comedy show. Their sickly fake accents (Abba all spoke wonderful English) were painful. The 2 guys bore no resemblance to Benny & Bjorn, and added nothing to the vocals, meaning the act was missing those great male backing vocals and harmonies.
While Benny stood at a keyboard, I’m sure his hand movements did not always line up with the recorded piano solos in the various Abba hits. (A funny coincidence given all the publicity about Britney recently).
My wife commented that she thought the blonde was the same girl who played Karen Carpenter earlier, which may have been borne out when they all did a stage call at the end, minus the blond from “Simply Abba”.
The third act, and by far the strongest was, The Australian Bee Gees. They have performed in Canberra before on their own, and I remember enjoying their whole show a great deal. I experienced the real thing in 1999, when the Bee Gees were the opening act at the then brand new Sydney Olympic Stadium at Homebush. Friday night was nothing like that performance, but good entertainment non the less. The only criticism was the sound technician, who let the whole show down badly. No sound checks at the beginning……Karen Carpenter had to start her first song 4 times because she had no volume on her Mic.
With the Bee Gees, he had no understanding of the dynamics within the group. Maurice, who sings harmony and backing vocals in most songs, had the loudest volume on his mic, drowning out Barry, whose vocals, particularly when he goes to false-etto , are the corner stone of most Bee Gees songs. These three performers are long time professional musicians, and do their show well. The guy doing Maurice has him down to a tee, a sad thing given his untimely demise not long ago. Barry has the most difficult job in the band, and does it very well, while Robyn had round dark glasses and a short haircut that made him look more like John Lennon. But they were very entertaining.
By coincidence, news reports out this week are that the remaining 2 members of the Bee Gees have started working again after the death of their brother.
So while I sound a bit critical, I’m glad my wife bought the tickets as an anniversary present, and we had a good time with all the other oldies there on the night.