HAPPY SAD – The Songs of Tim Buckley

Wheatsheaf Hotel 29th February – Adelaide Fringe 2020

Review by
Gary CLarke
4.5K ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 💫

Long time friends Mike Kirkham, Cal Williams Jr and Andy Pil supported by Dom Smith on percussion came together for this debut performance of an homage to Tim Buckley for the 2020 Adelaide Fringe. It was vocalist/guitarist Mike Kirkham’s idea and what a good idea it was!

The venue was the Wheaty, in the iconic Tin Shed, a location which lent a warm intimacy to the event. The atmosphere was relaxed and informal and Cal as MC introduced the songs, adding some history and banter about Buckley and some tales of the genesis of this band and its members.

I have been a fan of Tim Buckley since quite early in his career and by the time his most celebrated album Greetings From LA was released in the early 1970s I had all his albums on high rotation, thanks to Melbourne’s wonderful Import Record Shops.

Buckley was an improviser and an eclectic performer that defied categorisation. This band did credit to that legacy slipping in and out of the music, riffing here and there and adding nuances that enhanced the experience. This was indeed an homage rather than a tribute and the performance was all the better for it.

I had no great expectations beforehand about a singers ability to deliver on Tim Buckley’s unique vocal style or matching his range, subtlety and emotional power. However I was not disappointed. When Mike leaned into the mike he gave his all. Sure, he doesn’t have quite the power and vocal range to match Buckley but he does have beautiful intonation and projected his own soulful imprint on the lyrics. At times Kirkham seemed to almost channel Buckley.

Cal William’s lyrical guitar accompanied Kirkham superbly, Pils bass providing a creative rhythmic flow for both to launch from and weave around. Dom Smith held it all together with subtle strokes of the skins and metal.

Rather than me list here all the songs they performed I recommend checking out Tim Buckley’s music online.

For a delightful taster of this performance and Great Moose’s take on Buckley look up 3D Radio’s Michael Hunter interview. It features the band doing live versions of five of these songs via Hunter’s ‘Roots and Branches’ program.

This was touted as a one off event and there were no plans for any repeat of the performance at the time. However while chatting with Jerome of Cheese Factory fame he was arranging a ‘Happy Sad’ reprise for September, as we spoke.
Catch it if you can. I certainly will.

Tim Buckley’s music crosses all the emotions from Happy to Sad but it was the former that embraced me as I strolled out into the night singing ‘Happy Time Inside My Mind’

4.5K ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 💫

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