Despite mass media coverage, including an interview in issue four of Unilifemag, the Basement Birds seem to have stayed under the radar. This is a shame, as their first and only ever show in Adelaide was entertaining, if shambolic fun.
The band are a supergroup of sorts, featuring Josh Pyke, Kevin Mitchell (aka Bob Evans), Kav Temperley from Eskimo Joe, and the unknown, but very talented Steve Parkin. This musical venture is basically them mucking about, and it showed during the show with a very relaxed attitude to actually playing the songs.
The Sun Orchestra opened for the punctual people, and were the kind of band to listen to with a hangover on a Sunday morning, because if you fall asleep and wake up half hour later, not much has changed. Old Man River came on next and played songs from his new album coming out in September. There only seemed to be two tones, ballad and full-on jam, with Believe It and Sunshine from Good Morning getting the full electric treatment.
It’s an old rock cliché that the longer the roadies take to set up their instruments, the more the band has to prove their worth. Unfortunately with four frontmen constantly exchanging instruments this went for quite a while, and eventually the Basement Birds took to the stage, plus a drummer and a member of The Sun Orchestra on slide guitar and piano.
The band started with first single Waiting For You, and it became immediately apparent that the amazing harmonies on their self-titled album wasn’t studio magic. Despite Kav’s deeper, more dramatic voice, he did not overpower any of the other band members and it all fitted together nicely. This was the Basement Birds first-ever show of their only-ever tour, and it occasionally showed, with an atmospheric cover of Sarah Blasko’s All I Want first being restarted because of the band forgetting the words, then being altered by Kevin’s loud harmonica solo. His performance wavered between entertaining and unprofessional, with a swig from a wine bottle being funny the first time, and a little bit annoying after that.
They played every song from the album, including Bus Stop, a duet with Julia Stone. As Julia was not just hanging around Adelaide they brought three girls who said they knew the words onto the stage to sing Julia’s part. Again, this was their first show, and this could have failed horribly with the girls just giggling or standing silent in awe of their musical heroes. Luckily the girls were talented, and actually managed to pull this off, much to the audience’s surprise. The show ended with stand-out track Cinnamon & Smoke, which turned into a little bit of a hoedown.
The band started their encore with instrumental track Hamilton Hill, before launching into The Presets’ My People, which they covered earlier in the year for Triple J. They finished with Waterlines, and then wandered out to the merch desk to meet and greet the fans. They have been saying since they started this ‘folk supergroup’ that there would only be one album and one tour, but if they continue to have as much fun as they were having this time, we may see them again.