You can’t get more Melbourne with a purpose built music venue by the banks of the Yarra river. The Foxtel Festival Hub, creates a certain magical ambience, with bars, outdoor deck chairs, and intimate seating arrangements to enjoy a snack or drink. The venue has the stage set up in the middle of the floor, providing a 360 view of the said band. It’s a little confronting at first, with punters in the first few rows seated across the floor around the stage, but once the novelty of the set up subsides, all relax to enjoy the show. Fans of Wally De Backer (Gotye) know to position themselves near the drumkit. Or one could be unlucky or lucky enough to be staring at bassist/vocalist Kris Shroeder’s arse hole the whole time, which Shroeder makes reference to during the show, (and his unfortunate wedgie.)
Bennie Walker is doing a fine job of warming up the troops with the aid of his acoustic guitar, loop pedal and hearty vocals. “Dear Home Town” is a homage to his home town and is lapped up by the crowd of The Basics fanatics. The trio enter through a side entrance, make their way through the audience and take their spots on stage. Here to launch their new album The Age of Entitlement The Basics ; Wally De Backer (drums, piano, vocals), Tim Heath (guitar, piano, vocals) and Kris Shroeder (bass, vocals, drums), resplendent in white shirts and black ties are intent on having a good time on stage, and their show is replete with between song banter, in jokes, and funny anecdotes courtesy of all three band members. Shroeder is the most vocal, supplementing his wit with the aid of red wine, the glass sitting idly next to the bottle, on top of the piano.
Opener on the album “Whatever Happened to the Working Class” kicks off the set and highlights the friendly camaraderie and spine tingling harmonies between the trio. The Basics have band chemistry in spades and while Shroeder is the rowdiest of the three, De Backer’s quiet instructions put him in place, and Heath’s sharp, hilarious one liners are used sparingly yet effectively throughout the set.
“I’ve got a music stand and the only thing I’ve got to put on it is the set list” exclaims Shroeder. Rarely played gem “With This Ship” is given an airing, and proves to be one of many highlights throughout the evening, despite the false starts and stumbles, which add to the appeal. In some respects it’s like watching an intimate band rehearsal, but this just adds to the crowd’s enjoyment. “Tunaomba Saida” a homage to the Benga style of music followed by “I Don’t need Another.” Many know how stupendously good De Backer’s vocals are, his drumming is just as fierce. So much so that he breaks one of his main brushes, and resorts to playing with drumsticks, much to the delight of the throng who want them to rock out.
The Basics are renowned for taking requests from the audience, and this includes chords and lyrics provided by the crowd for songs the band actually know. Old 70’s rock ballad Nazareth’s “Love Hurts”is given The Basic’s treatment giving us some old fashioned nostalgia, quickly followed by David Bowie’s “As The World Falls Down”, but it is “Baby I’m Amazed” (Paul McCartney/Wings) sung by De Backer, that leaves the crowd in awe.
Schroeder says he could imagine the street press summing up the show by saying “The Basics vacillate between different genres throughout their set.” Yes that’s true but in summary for all their dishevelled glory, The Basics put on a show worthy of accolades. It is seared in memory as something truly brilliant and a band to see.