It was bittersweet driving to Lizotte’s last night. As I sat in my car outside the train station, waiting to collect my husband, I heard the news on the radio that “The Cubbyhouse” would close its doors in April. Long-term readers will know how much I adore this venue. A night out at Lizotte’s always feels like a treat. The food is amazing, the wine is good, the service friendly, and the entertainment top notch. I’ve been lucky enough to see artists like Jimmy Barnes, Amos Lee, Daryl Braithwaite, Richard Clapton, and Darren Percival there, in surroundings that are so beautifully intimate. The Newcastle arm will remain, and I’ll look forward to attending shows there, but I will miss this place terribly. How wonderful it was to have a venue which could attract such stellar talent and bring it to music lovers in such relaxed surrounds just 15 minutes from my home.
All those thoughts of how much I’d miss it ran through my head last night as I did my best to soak it all in. I savoured my wine, the crispy tempura prawn entrée, and the always impressive battered flathead and chunky chips. The combination of seafood and pinot grigio put me in a chilled space for the appearance of support act Simon Meli. I didn’t even mind that I was sitting behind a pole which prevented me taking decent photos. I was just excited to see this Voice alum stripped back with just an acoustic guitar, and performing the originals we didn’t get to experience on the show. I’m not sure if he’s improved since his time on the show or whether the TV didn’t do him justice, but his voice blew me away. There’s such a rich, warm quality to it. On The Voice I was impressed by his showmanship, but I didn’t feel he was one of the program’s strongest vocalists. After seeing what he can do just sitting on a stool, playing a guitar, I think perhaps I underestimated him. I loved his originals, but his closing cover of “Ramble On” was the highlight.
Then it was Thirsty Merc’s turn to take the stage. It’s been such a long time since I saw them play, and they took me on a real trip down memory lane with their set. It was so cool hearing how they breathed new life into their material. So often an acoustic show delivers the same songs with quieter instruments, but Thirsty Merc took the opportunity to play around and make those early songs something new. I won’t lie, it wasn’t always successful. I felt the slowed-down version of “My Completeness” was sleepy, with none of the spark of the original. But with great risk comes great reward. “Katie Q” was a bit of a filler track on the band’s first album, but the jazzier live version had me tapping my feet. “Emancipate Myself,” the song that turned me on to the band all those years ago, and “Build a Bridge” were also real highlights.
This show had me feeling nostalgic, but it was about so much more than rehashing the past. Thirsty Merc might be closing the door to the first ten years of their life, but the inventiveness they showed in this set prove there’s still plenty of life in this Aussie band.
Image source: Thirsty Merc Facebook page