GATEWAY HOTEL – GEELONG
AUGUST 25 – 2023
GORD BAMFORD SIPS ON BREAKFAST BEER IN GEELONG
“It's 10 A.M. on this ocean pier/ and I'm sipping on breakfast beer/ breakfast beer it'll kill a hangover/ tip it on back so you don't get sober/ add a little clam and a Caesar on the side/ ain't no rules when you're on a vacation/ best dang time for a time well wasted/ ain't nobody gonna judge me way down here/ sipping on breakfast beer/ yeah Bud Light, Molson Ice/ Corona, it's all right here.” - Breakfast Beer - Gord Bamford- Jason Lee Owens Jr. - Meghan Patrick
When Van Diemen's Land major exports The Wolfe Brothers and expat Gippsland gaucho Gord Bamford arrived in Geelong they discovered an older demographic at their afternoon buffet at the Gateway Hotel.
It was not the Geelong football team who were parodied as being too old when they won the 2022 AFL premiership.
“We had a buffet with 30 people where the demographic was aged 82,” Tom Wolfe joked when his band hit the stage at the sold-out Cattery venue.
It's not clear if great grand matriarch Olive, who was celebrating her 102nd birthday at her home on the Esplanade on the coast at Torquay, dined at the buffet with the Wolfe clan.
But there were plenty of octogenarians on walking frames, sticks and wheelchairs in the packed 500 capacity lounge after early diners finished their buffets and decamped.
This was a concert for all ages and Gord Bamford's hot band featuring drummer Brendan Lyons in a Geelong guernsey and bassist belle Lisa Dodd emerged from the shadows with entrée song Rain On A Tin Roof.
Luckily for this veteran reviewer and other Geelong fans there was no rain on the Cattery roof the following night when the Cats bowed out to the Western Bulldogs who sadly missed the finals.
But many of the Cats older players including Tom Hawkins, an avid Kasey Chambers fan, were in hospital after season ending surgeries.
This did not take the sting from the wings of Bamford's band who raised the roof with their crowd favourites Redneck , Heaven On Earth, Heard You In A Song, Neon Smoke and apt Is It Friday Yet.
Bamford, 47 and father of three, told his audience he was born in Moe and raised in Traralgon before he left, aged just five, for Canada with sister Twila and singer mum Marilyn.
He added that his brother and some cousins were in the Gateway audience.
They enjoyed his soul stirring anthems Hair Of A Honky Tonk Dog, Fire It Up, Hash Tag, Postcard From Pasadena , Drinking Buddy and That's What Grandpas Do - a tribute to his ancestors in Australia and Canada .
Bamford namechecked The Wolfe Brothers before performing their historic duet Drinkalong Song and Dancing So Good.
But the elongated climax included crowd favourites Lips , Breakfast Beer and fitting finale Dive Bar.
Bamford may have been a hard act to follow but not for frequent touring partners The Wolfe Brothers .
WOLFE BROTHERS STORM ROLLING IN AND OUT OF GEELONG
“Round here we get high on that Cascade Blue/ start throwing them back when there ain't much to do/ everyone round here knows my last name/ yeah it's written on the road sign and written on the gate.” - Ain't Seen It Yet - Nick Wolfe-Tom Wolfe-Brodie Rainbird-Erik Dylan
The taped music following Gord Bamford and preceding The Wolfe Brothers storming onto the stage may have been a little deafening to fans who travelled down Highway One from the big smoke and Shipwreck Coast to witness how these Wolves survived.
But the stage entry was supersonic with Starting Something and That Kinda Night an inspirational entrée for the boys from the deep south of Van Diemen's Land who welcomed their audience to “the home of the Geelong Cats.”
The Girl, The Bottle, The Memory, No Sad Song and Storm Rolling In were not weather forecasts but riveting reflections of the band's journey from playing in school bands as teenagers and debuting on CD in 2010.
They toured nationally with prolific Golden Guitarist and Carlton fan Lee Kernaghan in 2018 after appearing on Australia's Got Talent and honoured him with his song Damn Good Mates.
Tom Wolfe recalled their first Golden Guitar in 2018 and Country Heart hit as honour to their drummer dad Malcolm, who died of cancer in 2016, and preceded them on their Fairy Glen family berry farm at Neika - population 217 without counting livestock.
“It's 125 years and we still have that family farm” Tom and Nick Wolfe reminded their fans of the farm started by their great grandfather in 1899 and featured on revered ABC TV show Landline .
The five-time Golden Guitarists also honoured their late mother Leigh and grandparents who injected the musical genes in their Wolfe Family Orchestra in another song.
But it was full steam ahead as they rocked their country with No Brakes , Kids On Cassette, Starts With A Girl, This One's For You and Korean War veteran inspired Hey Brother.
The brothers regaled the audience with memories from their recent visit to Warrnambool and tribute to a girl that was not inspired by the beefy belle dragged from the venue mid-song by bucolic bouncers.
It was that kind of night for fans, friends and some mature age women who danced from the shadows on maybe their first night on the tiles for the winter as lead guitarist Brodie Rainbird, keyboard ace Scott Targett and drummer David Ruberto filled the room on a joyous journey.
The band also honoured prolific hit writer and wife of Slim Dusty - Joy McKean who died at 93 on May 25 - with their smash hit Lights on The Hill.
They also reached deep into their alcohol of fame with One Beer At A Time, Throw Em Back, This Crazy Life and new tunes from their sixth album Living The Dream.
The new songs included New Dog Old Tricks, Put Your House On It, Diamond In A Dive Bar, Empty Pockets, She's My Rock, She's My Roll and Here's To The Ones.
Ain't Seen It Yet also impacted before the memorable encore featuring Brooks & Dunn hit Boot Scooting Boogie , Billy Ray Cyrus's Achy Breaky Heart , Garth Brooks Friends In Low Places, Alan Jackson's Chattahoochie and Steve Earle classic Copperhead Road.
But the fitting finale was the Wolfe Brothers original Till It Ends that featured Tom Wolfe waving an Aussie flag and telling fans: “we live in the best country in the world and we'll be back here soon.”
By then Geelong may be back in the finals for another country colossus premiership.
Review by DAVID DAWSON
Photos by ANDREW FRIEND - Country.Rock.Shotz.