As I arrived stylishly late at The Fortitude Music Hall (17 April) – for the second of two Brisbane concerts as part of The Stones' Sticky Fingers tribute tour – the beautiful sounds of 'Wild Horses' floated through to the foyer.
An all-star line-up of four of Australia's most iconic names in rock & roll – Magic Dirt's Adalita, Grinspoon's Phil Jamieson, The Cruel Sea's Tex Perkins and You Am I's Tim Rogers – had gathered on the one stage (backed by a super band; more on them later) to celebrate the 50th anniversary and pay tribute to the one of rock & roll's most iconic albums, Rolling Stones' 1971 masterpiece 'Sticky Fingers'.
While I missed Tim's rendition of opening track 'Brown Sugar' and Tex belt out 'Sway', a quick scan of the audience gave it away – those in attendance were ready to get down and boogie like it was the start of the '70s for one, magical evening under the Music Hall's impressive twin chandeliers.
While it was Tex and Adalita working the microphone on 'Wild Horses' (my personal fave Rolling Stones song), if you closed your eyes you could easily imagine Mick Jagger and Keith Richards treading the boards, the bruised ballad still packing plenty of emotional punch; it had me swaying, eyes closed, beer in hand like the hundreds of other times I've heard the original.
Phil Jamieson made his first appearance next, decked out in a maroon-coloured, slightly over-sized suit that oozed '70s charm, for 'Can't You Hear Me Knocking' – the blues, alt. country banger getting Phil's trademark punchy, gut-wrenching vocals.
It was also another chance for the sensational backing band to flex their own impressive chops led by guitar virtuoso Jak Housden (The Whitlams, The Badloves, Tim Minchin) who was a musical standout the entire night.
The other players included Dario Bortolin (Baby Animals) on bass, Hamish Stuart (Ayres Rock, Don Walker) on drums, Clayton Doley (Jimmy Barnes, The Mighty Reapers) on keys, Winston Smith (Winston Smith & the Riverstones) on sax and up-and-coming local guitar hero, James Christowski on guitars.
The quartet of Tex, Tim, Adalita and Phil then gathered together for the bluesy magic of 'You Gotta Move', and it felt like we'd been transported to a dusty and decrepit dive bar in Missisippi with whiskey-fuelled gospel flowing forth from each singer's voice.
Tim harnessed the glam-rock flavoured 'Bitch' to perfection; almost like he'd sung it to a mirror more than a few of times across the years.
Jamieson returned to centre stage for the poignant 'I Got The Blues' and again, it sounded like a musician singing lyrics rooted deeply to their own personal experiences as opposed to a simple cover – the richness of Phil's vocals had me swaying once more, eyes closed; I managed to take a peek at the audience and I wasn't alone in my swaying. (Special mention to the organ work from Clayton Doley – it was sublime sir, brimming with an analog richness that transported this listener.)
Perkins returned to the stage, one leg dragging behind himself like a battle-weary hobo for 'Sister Morphine' and you just knew Tex was the perfect vocalist to capture the brutal honesty of the song.
The first part of the night drew to a close with Adalita singing the upbeat 'Dead Flowers' before closing the first set and rendition of 'Sticky Fingers' with album closer 'Moonlight Mile'.
But they and the band would return for a second set of Rolling Stones hits across their entire back catalogue.
Think 'Start Me Up' (Phil), 'Paint It' (Tex), 'Let's Spend The Night Together' (Tim), 'Ruby Tuesday' (Adalita), 'Angie' (Tex), 'Midnight Rambler (Ya Ya's version)' (Tim), 'Beast Of Burden' (Phil & Adalita), 'Miss You' (Phil), 'Sympathy' (Tex) and 'Can't Always Get' (Adalita & Tim).
By the time 'Let's Spend The Night Together' arrived, the first daring dancer appeared at the front of stage, soon joined by other revellers who were savouring the hits of nostalgia the night was igniting inside everyone.
With more shows (in southern states) planned in July, I can see this becoming a regular touring event; audience participation will not be an issue. Over to you Adalita, Tex, Tim and Phil.