Tim Freedman has fronted Aussie band The Whitlams for 20 years now, and has cemented his place in Australian musical history as a damn fine singer/songwriter. His appearance at the Cabaret Festival is as part of a national tour to promote his debut solo album Australian Idle, and sees him take to the stage with just a Steinway grand, an electric piano, some dubious lighting and a heck of a lot of talent.
Playing a lot of crowd favourites from his Whitlams days, as well as several songs off the new release, Freedman kept the crowd wanting more. Ever the engaging front man, in between he provided some background to several of the songs, as well as the process behind trying to get them played on radio. His attitude regarding the change in the music played on Triple J over the last five or so years was obviously shared by many in the audience, who remembered the heydays of the 90s and early 2000s fondly.
Freedman’s songs range from incredibly silly through to heartbreakingly emotional, with many stops in between. He rides that seesaw well, managing to progress from one extreme to the other without it seeming disjointed. The simplicity of piano and vocals was powerful and showed the quality of the compositions. While providing performances that were equal in quality to the album tracks, he also varied the style of several of the songs which gave them a fresh feeling – who knew that You Sound Like Louis Burdett could be so jazzy?
The Dunstan Playhouse provided a very different atmosphere to his usual venue of choice, The Governor Hindmarsh. Despite the size of the venue, the performance felt intimate. Freedman’s affable yet slightly cantankerous presence filled not only the stage but flowed out to envelop the entire playhouse. Having played venues of widely varying dimensions, from back rooms of pubs through to the Sydney Opera House, he knows how to enchant a room full of people, regardless of the size.
Freedman’s songs may not get played on Triple J anymore but he obviously still has a very strong fan base – one which crosses several generations and is happy to see him play in a variety of show styles. This was a chance to hear his music in a more refined setting and he provided a great evening of entertainment.
Kryztoff Rating: 4.5K