Josh Pyke, Aodhan, Bec Sykes @ The Gov, Adelaide 1/7/2022

After multiple re-schedules, another 2020 Covid casualty gig finally came to fruition on Friday night. And the wait was totally worth it.

Josh Pyke’s To Find Happiness tour hit The Gov on Friday night. It was a celebration of his latest album release, To Find Happiness (2022) while commemorating Rome (2020) and a career spanning twenty odd years.

A chill and tranquil set from Bec Sykes opened the night. Although recovering from a throat infection, songs such as Some Will Come, Joshua and Edithvale highlighted her moody melodies. Despite being a lowkey set, it bristled with talent.

Wollongong singer/ songwriter Aodhan took to the stage next. Together with his dad on backing vocals and guitar, Aodhan traversed through an eleven-song set with enthusiastic ease. In between conversing with the audience, he sang his way through songs such as Flies In My Room, Butterflies, Empty Spaces, Three Leaf Clover, and I’m Closed. We were also treated to a couple of unreleased songs including, Orchestra, and his triple j Like a Version, Just What I Needed (The Cars). It was an enjoyable set from the 2019 Unearthed High Indigenous Initiative winner.

When Josh Pyke burst onto the stage with his band, Jan Bangma (Bass) and Russell Crawford (Drums), he wasted no time getting down to business. Before uttering a word, he whipped through To Find Happiness, Memories and Dust, and Sew My Name. It had been four years since the trio last played in Adelaide, and they were prepared to give us a show to remember.

Pyke has always adopted a relaxed yet professional façade when playing live. Happy to banter and go with the flow, ensuring you get bang for your buck. Last night was no different. Dedicating Your Heart Won’t Always Weigh A Tonne to the screaming drunk lady down the front, Pyke urged ongoing interaction between artist and audience. This encouragement increased the overall vibe.

The audience may have been small, but they were mighty. The devotion to Pyke was abundantly evident. Not only did everyone come out on a cold winter night when part two of Stranger Things 4 dropped, but they were enthusiastically singing, dancing, and cheering without missing a beat. From the old of Forever Song to the newer Home, everyone was having a blast.

The Lighthouse Song proved as popular as ever, while You’re My Colour and I Thought We Were A River were vibrant new inclusions. In particular, the latter was a surprise delight. The lighting design and sound were on point for its duration (and beyond). With Pyke’s consistent encouragement to sing along, everyone did with gusto to A Town That You’ve Never Been To and classics Leeward Side and Make You Happy.

The sing-along continued in the most unexpected and heartwarming fashion. Veering off the set list, Pyke obliged a request to sing Words Make the World Go Around, his children’s song with Justine Clarke. It was pure joy.

The impromptu nature of the show remained as Pyke threw the rule book out. Intermixed within the intended set list, Pyke played more requests and occasionally went off tangent. We heard If You Don’t Know Me, Who Am I, The Summer, Goldmines, and Line On Palms which comedically transitioned into and out of I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) (The Proclaimers). Forgoing an encore for one solid ninety-minute performance, the ever-popular Middle of the Hill was raucous bliss.

After some heavy soliciting, Pyke succumbed and played Vibrations In Air. A song he and his band hadn’t played live in approximately four years. Despite protesting that they couldn’t remember how to play it, the three brought it highlighting their professionalism and talent. Don’t Let It Wait closed out a sensational show.

Josh Pyke never fails to deliver in his live shows. His ability to connect with the audience promotes inclusivity and harmony, guaranteeing a fun evening. And that is exactly what we got.

Live Review By Anita Kertes

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