A 10cc show is a fabulous feast of musicality, history and fairytales, from three of the lads that lived it and two fitting comrades.
Local alt-country troubadour Jason Ayres opened the show at Perth’s Astor Theatre (9 May) with his stomp box, vocal-harmony pedal and originals.
His song ‘My Sweet Carolina’ was a stand-out piece, really emphasising his vocal skill. Almost distracting me from the curiousness of his insistence to always stomp on the ‘one’.
Purposefully, he brought two covers with him to please the already-willing crowd: a reinvention of Sonny Bono’s track ‘Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)’, originally released by Cher, and finishing with John Denver classic ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’, cleverly positioning the music history lesson at 1971; the year prior to 10cc’s conception.
10cc kick off with one of their early releases, ‘The Wall St Shuffle’. Although there were enough instruments on stage to suggest a ten-piece ensemble, five players are on stage perfectly executing these nostalgic song-nuggets in real time.
Founding member Graham Gouldman (on bass, mostly), drummer Paul Burgess (who joined for the first tour in 1973) and lead guitarist Rick Fenn (joining in 1976) churn out their musical art and anecdotal sense of humour – spoken and unspoken – swapping instruments and banter, with ‘Art For Art’s Sake’, ‘Life Is A Minestrone’ and ‘The Dean And I’.
When they play ‘Good Morning Judge’, Rick regales us with the recollection of when Graham played the judge in the film clip, dressed up as an old man, with grey hair… cue sideways glance and audience irony appreciation moment.
I feel like I’m watching a boy band/ barbershop/ rock band (though they’re no Royal Blood, which I’m still recovering from) and it is just blissful. The light show was ridiculously good; they even manage to fade out a song beautifully with the whole band. Twice.
These guys are all fabulous musicians. I’ve been watching a lot of Queen videos lately and am in awe at how good their voices were, and how amazing it is to have instrumentalists who can sing amazingly and tolerate being in the same room/ stage/ band together… and here I manage to see it live with 10cc. Maybe it’s a British thing after all.
“I think you know this one,” Graham says. Paul counts them in; they “ahhhh” in pristine harmony at the beginning of the info session about ‘The Things We Do For Love’, one of their biggest hits in Australia by Graham and former member Eric Stewart, who wrote most of the songs together between ’76 and ’95.
Keith Hayman is on keyboards, bass and guitar after joining the band in 2006, and current vocalist Iain Hornal, who joined officially in 2017 after filling in for Mick Wilson from time to time previously, does an absolute cracker job of singing and playing guitar, keyboard and percussion throughout the show.
Graham picks up the acoustic guitar to lead a song, ‘From Rochdale To Ocho Rios’, that he introduces with a slight, geographical explanation, with such a resonant line as this for lifestyle makers and touring musicians alike: “You spend half your life in transit, but that’s just the way God plans it.”
It’s a great mix of sounds they purvey: exciting and whimsical, and Graham appropriately dedicates a song to cricketing royalty Mr Dennis Lillee, who was in attendance - ‘Dreadlock Holiday’ of course. (Even more interesting is the fact that Lillee’s Test debut was vs England in The Ashes in 1971, then touring England for the same series the next year, as 10cc formed)
For the encore Graham introduces a very important song for 10cc; their first single ‘Donna’, which all band members perform as a barbershop quartet around one microphone, until drummer Paul (who hasn’t had a microphone for most of the show) parts the four crooners to bellow out a low note for the closing section.
They end with the energetic ‘Rubber Bullets’, which might be as hard to walk through as the crowd waiting for autographs after the show.
Thanks lads. I don’t like your work, I love it.