Touring on the back of the recent release of his latest solo effort, Woman, New Zealand born, Australian music icon Jon Stevens is currently performing a number of shows around Australia that are more than worth your while checking out. If you’re after a solid, unashamedly Aussie rock show, this is the one you’ve been looking for.
Performing at The Gov in Adelaide on 24th October, Jon was supported by local rockers Love Cream, who did more than just warm the crowd, they ignited the passion of the (predominately female) audience with their glam rock.
Love Cream know how to work a crowd; they have boundless energy, a collection of contagious, well written songs, and they have more presence than most bands at their stage of career. They understand being a support act is hard work, so they rise to the challenge, exceeding expectations and giving it all they have. It’s impossible not to have a good time when Love Cream are on stage.
Jon Stevens is a very impressive frontman. His performance is earnest, passionate and radiating charisma, with a gritty, powerful voice to match. Wearing his heart on his sleeve, he has that rare ability to connect immediately with an audience. There’s an intensity that burns just below that surface: probably the reason for his success, while also explaining the uneven trajectory of his career. You get the feeling that Stevens is a no bullshit kind of guy, and therein lies the appeal. In between numbers he chatted candidly with the crowd: whether explaining the personal significance of a song or openly firing a barb at his former Dead Daisies bandmates. With Stevens, what you see is what you get.
While playing a selection from his extensive career, this was as much a night of fresh, energetic rock’n’roll as a trip down nostalgia lane. While many in the crowd had come to hear renditions of those Noiseworks classics (as evidenced by the rush to the front of stage when ‘Touch’ was played), it was the loud and dirty blues of the new album, well suited to live performance and the band Stevens has assembled, that proved the highlight of the gig. You get the feeling that Stevens is more at ease as a hard rocking blues man than with his pop-rock successes of 25 years ago. Admittedly though, it was also great fun to belt out ‘Take Me Back’ in unison at the end of the main set.
But a good frontman knows his audience and there was pleasing balance to the setlist, starting with the raw energy of the present day material, dropping in some Noiseworks tracks mid-show, before jumping back to more recent times (with a detour via The Dead Dasies, complete with name-dropping friend and co-writer of the track, Slash), and bringing it home with those big numbers from the late eighties / early nineties.
In characteristically honest style, Stevens admitted he was performing under the influence of Endone, having undergone surgery earlier that week as a result of a kitchen mishap with a sushi knife (severing tendons in his hand). He joked in self-deprecating style that he might not play guitar again and that this might be a good thing. There were some subtle signs that he was in pain, but such is the professionalism of the man, that he pushed through the discomfort and it barely had an impact on the performance.
After more than three decades in the music industry Stevens knows how to deliver: he still draws a strong crowd and they leave having had a great time. This is how a good rock’n’roll show should be.
Reviewed by Matthew Trainor and Libby Parker
Photos by Libby Parker