Even have been playing the Corner Hotel on X-mas Eve for so long that X-mas Even has become a long standing annual tradition. This year, we were fortunate to choose from four gigs, over two nights, with early and late evening shows. And whilst they didn’t exactly fall on X-mas Eve-n, the 6pm show on Wednesday was replete with X-mas spirit, literally and figuratively.
Going strong since the bands inception in 1994, Even wear their power pop influences proudly on their sleeves, and we are the better for it. The Corner is sadly not packed to the rafters as is usually the case, and punters are spaced out within the Corner’s confines due to COVID restrictions. As “Stop and Go Man” off Even’s debut album Less is More kicks off the set, and awakens us from our isolated stupor, we revel in its pop magnificence, guitarist Ashley Naylor’s impressive guitar licks and solid back end care of Wally Kempton on bass and Matthew Cotter on drums.
Title Track “In Another Time ” released in 2011, reportedly Davey Lane’s favourite Even song, slows the pace down a notch, and those towards the back of the stage are treated to “The Corner Pole” which has its own Facebook page and facemask, its cartoon eyes peering back at them in delight.
“I couldn’t decide whether this would be on a Nirvana album or Split Enz. It ended up being on an Even album, ” confesses Naylor, before playing “No One Understands me” off their debut album, with it’s Nirvana – esque guitar intro, blended with a sixties pop rock sensibility. “Beautiful Day Never End” sees Naylor on guitar accompanied by support act Clio Renner on keys and backing vocals, proudly clad in an Even T-shirt.
Rock-pop masterpiece “Rock and Roll Save my Life” is the start of a four song medley, followed by the Master’s Apprentices cover “Living in a Child’s Dream”. It includes a surprise performance by Link Meanie on The Meanie’s tune “The Reason Why” his characteristic guttural scream injecting some punk into the pop laden set. Wally Kempton then takes over vocal duties on KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Please Don’t Go,” and the medley ends with a “Rock and Roll Save my Life” refrain.
“We had our time in the sun, now we have our hammocks in the shade,” jokes Naylor, when referring to a successful period in their music career, when they had singles in the Aussie charts. Fittingly they launch into some of their popular singles, “Shining Star,” “Return to Stardust”, the nine minute ode to Pink Floyd, “Not sure how long it’s going to go today,” quips Naylor, “Life gets in the Way”, and 1998’s single “Black Umbrella,” which is de rigueur to carry as a Melbournian.
“Don’t Wait” off their debut album Less is More, ends another X-mas Even show at the Corner, a set filled with witty repartee care of Ashley Naylor, a special appearance by Link Meanie, the rock- pop brilliance of these musical stalwarts, summing up the night’s performance and their musicianship, to coin a phrase from a mysterious Even poster that an unknown Melbourne resident pasted on walls in 2019, Even are one of the best bands in Australia.