Bob Evans @ Oxford Art Factory
Reviewed on Friday May 10
You Am I guitarist Davey Lane opens the bill in solo mode tonight; his melancholic six-string rock a nice prelude to his later appearance as part of Kevin Mitchell’s stage band. In the meantime, it’s Tigertown – and what a discovery these guys are. They’re like Fleetwood Mac raised on a diet of atmospheric synths and rolling African rhythms. Later, Mitchell calls them, “The best-looking band in Australia … When I get on stage it gets older and uglier.”
Older and uglier it may be, but the Bob Evans show has come a long way since Mitchell’s first appearances under that moniker and outside Jebediah. He’s a thin, scruffy mess – he guzzles wine from a screw-top bottle and strums an acoustic guitar with Christmas lights gaffer taped around the frame for decoration. There’s even an old setlist scrawled on the back in marker pen.
Yet in spite of appearances, Mitchell’s abilities as a songwriter are incredibly well-rounded. The set opens with a pixie dreamland version of ‘Footscray Park’ before Mitchell and his four-piece band launch into the upbeat guitar pop that always underpinned Jebediah’s success but perhaps was never given the space to breathe. ‘Hand Me Downs’ gets a welcome airing, and though ‘Don’t Wanna Grow Up Anymore’ is a touch rushed, it remains a winner.
At this point, the band leaves Mitchell to his own devices. He takes the chance to offer tribute to Chrissy Amphlett via ‘I Touch Myself’, then strolls around the room for an unplugged and un-microphoned rendition of ‘Darlin’ Won’t You Come?’ After calling back his accompanists, Mitchell proves on ‘Don’t You Think It’s Time?’ that country can still be cool – it’s the biggest sing-along of the night. The main set ends with ‘Pasha Bulker (Where Did I Go Wrong?)’ and a long, Pink Floydian vamp; Mitchell is down on the floor again with his acoustic guitar and some hair-ruffling devotees.
Encores include both the full band lineup and the singer on his own – Lily Allen’s ‘Not Fair’ is interrupted by various fits of the giggles, and ‘Wonderful You’ closes proceedings with an invitation from Mitchell to meet him after the show so he can thank everyone individually for coming. Aw. What a guy.
BY CHRIS MARTIN