Australian children’s entertainer Peter Combe has been delighting children with his silly songs for decades.
While his fans eventually grow up, the packed crowd wearing newspaper hats at Brisbane’s The Zoo showed they haven’t outgrown the singer as he performed a special adult's show (14 July).
Opening was Brisbane-based quartet Suicide Country Hour. It’s an unusual choice for a band with that name to be supporting Peter Combe; even gravelly-voiced singer Simmo admitted: “We’re not sure how we made it on to this show.”
But the band proved to be delightfully macabre, with humour poking through their death-filled songs like the happy ending (pun intended) of their closing number about gay cowboys filled with graphic metaphors.
The crowd was at fever pitch before Peter arrived on stage. His backing band, The Juicy Juicy Green Band, came first to build anticipation with a lengthy introductory jam. Finally, the man of the hour arrived drawing massive cheers from the audience and exploding into opening song ‘Big Yellow Ball’.
I was surprised how many songs I remembered. Songs like the rocking ‘Nutrition Blues’, ‘Saturday Night’ and his spirited ‘Jack And The Beanstalk’ were all used to liven up long car journeys (from my past). But live, they burst to life leading to enthusiastic swaying and dancing in the crowd.
Even though Peter admits he’s older now – one of the reasons he doesn’t leap off the stage and lick faces during the sticky sweet ‘Toffee Apple’ – he still has a giddy spring in his step, which made his songs even more fun.
Peter closed on the classic, and my personal favourite, ‘Mr Clicketty Cane’. It’s been a dream of mine to sing-along with Peter's silly sentences like “Wash your face in orange juice”; I can’t describe how excited I was to finally do it.
However, that dream was soon delightfully upstaged when I heard a room full of adults squeal in mock disgust: “Bellyflop in a pizza?! Ewwww!”
I have never heard a call for an encore as loud as the one for Peter Combe. The big applause earned a trio of big hits: ‘Spaghetti Bolognaise’, ‘Newspaper Mama’ (featuring backing vocals from post-show entertainment The Gutterbirds and a ripping guitar solo from Peter’s son, Tom) and ‘Juicy Juicy Green Grass’.
You’d be mistaken to believe Peter Combe performing to adult fans stinks of irony; there was a genuine love for the man and his classics. Even after all these years, Peter Combe’s songs fill me with as much joy as they used to.
No matter how old you are, a Peter Combe show will bring out a smile as big as his songs.