By The C, held at Glenelg Beach over the weekend, delivered some great summer sounds while heralding the homecoming of Adelaide ex-pats Cold Chisel and Paul Kelly alongside recent ARIA winners The Teskey Brothers with support from The Detonators and The Tim Prestwich Band.
With many getting in early to make the most of the mini-festival amid a very welcome temperature drop following the 40 degree heat of the previous day, The Tim Prestwich Band kicked off the music around 3pm. The younger brother of founding member and drummer of Cold Chisel, the late Steve Prestwich, Tim has opened for Chisel on a number of occasions with his trio.
Delivering a tight set of eighties flavoured power rock and with the occasional echo of Mossy coming from his left-handed strat, it was a fitting way to open the day. Although the set began with a slight sound hiccup and nothing coming through the front of house PA, this was soon rectified and, met with a good-humoured cheer from the crowd, things went smoothly from there.
The Detonators followed with their cool rockabilly, featuring swinging tunes punctuated by harmonica solos and some sweet double-bass. Frontman James Maloney, is an affable presence, who chatted to the crowd with good humour, although sometimes this banter did get a little lost over the sound system. It was a fun set that helped to build the upbeat mood of the day.
After conquering the ARIAs late last year, it’s hard to imagine The Teskey Brothers playing third billing on any line-up, but considering who was to come, this was fitting. The outfit enjoyed a breakout 2019 and their performance showed just why. It’s great to see an emerging band who are not only excellent musicians but who clearly revel in playing together.
The most striking feature of their sound is frontman Josh Teskey’s soulful, stirring voice that comes from another time and place. Add to this some great songwriting and playful soloing and The Teskey Brothers really do put on an excellent show. Highlights included the well known ‘So Caught Up’ and the extended slow blues jamming of ‘Paint My Heart’.
Following a Welcome to Country, Paul Kelly appeared on stage solo with his acoustic guitar and fittingly launched into his landmark song about the Gurindji strike, ‘From Little Things, Big Things Grow’. During the tune other members of the band joined him on stage, building up nicely as the crowd sang along to the chorus.
Paul Kelly is a national treasure and it always feels special when he returns to Adelaide, a theme to be repeated later in the evening by the main act. The set was well crafted, beginning with old favourites before taking us through more recent compositions that show how the song-master continues to work prolifically, producing excellent material. The performance then concluded with a return to the well known, culminating in the seasonally appropriate, ‘How To Make Gravy’.
There were many highlights, but one moment that really stood out was Vika Bull’s searing version of ‘Sweet Guy’. The powerful performance highlighted the absence of female-fronted acts on the bill and, while Magic Dirt and Kasey Chambers were playing other dates on this tour, Adelaide missed out here and that should have given some thought in the programming.
Cold Chisel took the stage promptly at 8pm as the skies darkened and the sea breeze picked up, characteristically launching into ‘Standing on the Outside’. With the bars doing good business over the day, the crowd were singing along enthusiastically – it didn’t matter whether you got your “woh-ohs” mixed up with your “yeah-eahs”.
Similarly robust sing-alongs also greeted the early appearance of other favourites such as ‘Choir Girl’ and ‘My Baby’. When the band hit their 2010 single ‘All For You’, something quite wonderful happened in the crowd when a couple just nearby got engaged, the boyfriend dropping to one knee during their favourite Chisel song and presenting her with a ring. This was greeted with wild applause from those of us around. It showed just how these songs mean different things to different people.
Like Paul Kelly, Chisel are much more than just a legacy band and still writing great music, having just dropped a very accomplished blues album in Blood Moon. Jimmy Barnes announced how they always played their new music in Adelaide and tonight was going to be no different. ‘Drive’, ‘Getting the Band Back Together’ and their scathing critique of American excesses ‘Land of Hope’ all sounded fresh, showcasing the new record.
When the band broke up in the mid-eighties and relationships were fraying, it would have been difficult to imagine them like this: so cohesive and clearly taking joy in playing together. There’s also a very democratic feeling to their circular stage set up and the sharing of vocal duties between Barnes and Ian Moss.
The main set culminated in crowd favourites ‘Khe Sanh’ and ‘Bow River’ before we were treated to three encores that covered the likes of ‘When the War is Over’, ‘Flame Trees’ and ‘Forever Now’, reminding us that the outfit is responsible some of the most enduring entries in the great Australian songbook. The evening then closed with one final re-appearance from the band and a wild rendition of ‘Goodbye (Astrid Goodbye)’.
Holding a music festival on the beach does bring its challenges, particular being subject to weather. While the temperature drop from the previous day was very welcome, the swirling breeze did cause some problems with sound. There were no issues in premium GA front of stage, however, further back the wind was causing some fluctuations in volume.
Otherwise, the event was very well run, presenting some of our finest musical talent, both old and new, and in particular, highlighting what great songwriting has emerged from this city.
Check out the full photo gallery here.
Written by Matthew Trainor
Pictures by Kay Cann