Don Walker, one of Australia’s most acclaimed songwriters, has had an illustrious career. Best known as a founding member of Cold Chisel, Walker has since embarked on a successful solo career and had his songs performed by many notable Australian artists. His show at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Tales from the Landsborough Highway, is classic Walker – sensitively combining poetry with melody.
Having composed some of the most iconic Australian anthems, ‘Flame Trees’, ‘Cheap Wine’ and ‘Khe Sanh’ to name just a few, the initial excitement in the audience was palpable. Tales from the Landsborough Highway is not a memoir of Walker’s compositional past (alas, no Cold Chisel classics), but an exploration of the seedy truckstops along long highways drenched in blues and rock.
Walker’s voice is so deep and melancholy it’s more like talking emotively than singing. But backed by his band, The Suave F***s (great name!), his music comes to life. His satirical songs like ‘Angry Women’ and ‘Young Girls’ were crowd highlights.
David Blight on harmonica wonderfully complimented the blues and country-rock feel of the show.
There was limited dialogue, but what was said was pointed. There was however, an unfortunate sense of detachment which limited Walker’s ability to truly engage with the audience. Adding to this was the grand piano position (with the lid half opened) obscured about one third of the audience’s view.
Even though this Tales from the Landsborough Highway was not what I expected, Don Walker with his slow Australian drawl, original music and amazing band has provided a very different Cabaret Festival experience.