The Whitlams Black Stump Band @ The Garden Of Unearthly Delights, Adelaide 18/3/2023

Walking down to The Garden Of Unearthly Delights it was great to see the East End alive and vibrant with people out and about enjoying everything that Mad March brings. One of the highlights in The Garden was The Whitlams Black Stump Band. The Whitlams Black Stump Band features mainstays Tim Freedman and Terepai Richmond (drums) backed by Rod McCormack (banjo), Matt Fell (bass) and Ollie Thorpe (electric and pedal steel guitar). When Tim Freedman said he was going to assemble the best band of players going around he wasn’t joking. Super tight and a classy band who made the next eighty minutes look effortless.

The Black Stump Band took some of The Whitlams classics that we all have grown to love and enjoy and were given the Americana/ alt country touch up. I was very curious how this was going to go but it is refreshing to hear these songs given a new lease of life as well as hearing some newer tunes that are uniquely The Black Stump Band.

The line at Boboli was huge compounded by the delayed start time by nearly an hour. As tedious as the wait was, it was worth it. Freedman described Boboli as the only tent in Australia with no character and that they would slum it for one night in a ‘fucking covid tent’! Opening with 50 Again and No Aphrodisiac you could hear the different feel these songs have. Ballad of Lester Walker was great and was followed by There’s No One. The story where Wesley Mission asked Freedman to do another version of Blow Up The Pokies but be more poignant about it got a few laughs with Freedman suggesting that there wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house with the addition of pedal steel.

Freedman also spoke of the immaculate conception in Newcastle on the first week of their tour putting it down to the additional of pedal steel. Fallen Leaves off the new album is an absolute winner. The first step in to this new world was Man About A Dog and their first song on country radio making it ‘more country’. The Roger Whittaker cover New World In The Morning got Freedman thinking about an alternate reality in 2024 with a Plibersek and Wong labour campaign.

Current single Kate Kelly plans to reunite Australia from a feminist perspective and Louis Burdett was described as being put on a truck and sent to Mexico. From crims smoking cigarettes thinking they stuffed up (In The Last Life) to the educational message about meth labs in Aldinga (Nobody Wants To Be You) Freedman shows clever lyricism and wit in these songs.

The band attempted to do the Kris Kristofferson cover Best Of All Possible Worlds faster than anyone, massive show highlight. It was definitely great hearing a lot of songs that aren’t normally featured in The Whitlams live show. Witness Protection Scheme and The Day John Sattler Broke His Jaw were great moments to finish the main set. Returning for an encore playing Buy Now Pay Later (Charlie No. 2) brought the crowd singing. Freedman thanked the crowd then said that they were going to murder a Neil Young cover Birds which was top of the pops for me finishing the night in fine fashion.

Live Review By Rob Lyon

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