by Chris Familton
Johnny Green celebrated his 60th birthday with an opening set that also featured his son Hank Green on guitar. With The Detonators’ drummer as a late ring-in the band eased the arriving crowd into the world of country blues, rock n roll and honky tonk. Green’s laconic voice and laid-back demeanor made for a relaxed start to the evening with originals and covers including Hank Williams’ Lost Highway. The band’s soloing was a real highlight, particularly the younger Green’s guitar playing and some wonderful honky tonk playing from their piano player.
The Detonators shifted gears into slick rockabilly and traditional rock n roll territory. Frontman James Moloney was a mix of 50s teen rebel and slightly awkward nerdy frontman. Their songs revolved around the tried and true themes of love, cars, tattoos, music, drink and drugs yet they proved themselves as the real deal with enough sneer and grit in the guitar riffs and a solid rhythm section. Pairs of dancers came and went, showing off their rock n roll and swing dance moves, such was the devout and authentically attired audience.
Dale Watson has toured Australian ten times and from the outset he proved himself a genuine and genial host, applauding the country and in particular its musicians who have helped him immeasurably with the logistics of getting to and around Australia. He’s also the consummate showman and even with the room only a third full he made it feel like a sell-out. Showcasing his Bakersfield honky tonk style he took the audience on a journey through the history of what he described as Ameripolitan music – original music with a prominent roots influence. With a faultless band in the Lonestars, Watson mixed humour and audience interaction with sublime country and rock n roll chops. The solos were restrained and note perfect while Watson’s voice was the summation of the crucial elements of country – the croon, the growl and the wail. Songs like Truckin’ Queen, Flat Tire, Fox On The Run and Tiger Airways showcased the diversity of Watson’s writing. His jokes at the expense of tour promoter Karl Bergersen were hilarious, as were the frequent Lone Star beer ads they mimicked. Fueled by constant rounds of tequila shots from the audience the band celebrated their final tour show with ninety minutes of music devoid of pretension and high on honest, good times country rock n roll.
this review was first published in The Music