I was just 13 when The Yearning, Things of Stone and Wood’s debut album, was released. Like so many Aussies, I adored the band’s blend of folk, pop, and rock, especially the super catchy breakthrough single “Happy Birthday Helen.” I always regretted that I was too young to get to a pub and see them live. As is the way with so many bands of the era though, I got another chance when they hit Sydney on the weekend.
Things have changed a little though. I can’t imagine the band playing a matinee back in the ‘90s. There was something lovely about shuffling in to the old Sando after a café lunch though, knowing that the gig would be all wrapped up in time for tea. That we’d be back on the Coast at a civilised hour! As we’re all getting older, these things matter.
Charming indie folk duo The Old Married Couple warmed up the crowd. The real life husband and wife pairing delivered honest and quirky love songs that quickly won me over with their whimsy, and use of unusual instruments like kazoos and whistles.
The crowd surged forward when Club Hoy took to the stage. I must admit, I’m not sure where I was when they came out originally. All I know is that I had absolutely no recollection of this band that seemed to mean so much to so many people in the audience. I could certainly appreciate them though. They reminded me a lot of the Indigo Girls with their beautiful harmonies and powerful, personal lyrics.
Things of Stone and Wood though. When they came out I was on much more familiar territory. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Yearning (seriously, where has the time gone?) the band promised to play the album in its entirety, from start to finish. Unlike so much music from the ‘90s, these songs haven’t dated one bit. The band also sounds just as good as they did on that recording, or perhaps even better with their producer James Black now on keys and mandolin. The chemistry between the members of the band and their connection with the crowd was electric. I’m struggling to recall a show in recent memory where there was so much palpable love in the room.
The big singles like “Rock This Boat,” “Share This Wine,” and of course “Happy Birthday Helen” were received rapturously. But in a concert like this, every song has a special place in the heart of the audience, so the energy level in the room never dropped. After wrapping up The Yearning, the band had delivered just what they promised. But none of us were done. So we were treated to an encore of songs from Things of Stone and Wood’s other releases. I was reminded just how good “Wildflowers,” a song I hadn’t thought of in years, is.
Honestly, as I re-entered the real world I marvelled at just how good Things of Stone and Wood are. While this show was about nostalgia and celebrating their landmark release, it also served as a reminder that this band continue to be one of the best Australia has produced. There are a couple of shows on this tour left. If you can get out and see them this week at one of these gigs, I promise you won’t regret it.
29 March 2017 – The Spiegeltent, Hobart
31 March 2017 – Workers Club, Geelong
1 April 2017 – Sound Lounge, Currumbin
2 April 2017 – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane
Image source: own photos