COSTA HALL, GEELONG - 30 January 2004

They came from afar as Gippsland and Shipwreck Coast dairy belts to catch this towering troubadour from Medicine Hat in Canadian province, Alberta.

Terri Clark in concert
Photo by Elvie Browne

Terri Clark may have not been on high rotation on me-too-metropolitan commercial radio hits and memories mausoleums.

But the enthusiastic be-hatted, front line phalanx of fans knew all the lyrics to the multi-award winning singer's U.S. chart toppers.

So there was a roar from the crowd when Clark and six-piece band tore into their turbo tonking from the first riff of the title track of her fifth album, Pain To Kill.

The Amazonian avatar prowled the stage, brandishing electric guitar, sabre-like, as she segued into 1996 hit Emotional Girl.

Clark regaled fans with tales of the Geelong gateway billboard urging folks to get horny and Coogee beach bunnies who sunbaked ''sunnyside up."

The risque Aussie lifestyle was not, she said, a staple of puritanical U.S. and Canadian land and seascapes.

So she switched to acoustic as she revisited 1995 self- titled debut disc for If I Were You and When Boy Meets Girl, punctuated by A Little Gasoline.

That was a tune that had a life of its own on Nu Country FM when deceased midnight DJ Peter Cresp-Gerrard inadvertently programmed it on repeat for a famed five-hour stint.
Clark, now 35 and single, bemoaned her desire to make the acquaintance of a live roo had only been partly sated by road kill surrogacy and a stuffed on stage roo named Matilda.
It was that sort of show.

She was back on electric for recent hit, I Wanna Do It All, and No Fear - theme song for the 2000 Canadian Special Olympics, and collaboration with two- time Aussie tourist Mary Chapin Carpenter.

Guitarist Kevin Post, guesting on pedal steel, and fiery fiddler Jenee Keener, fuelled the roughage on Aussie penned hit, Now That I Found You.

Clark sat on a stool for an acoustic medley of covers from her teen era at famed Tootsies Orchid Lounge in shadows of the Ryman - Grand Ole Opry mother church on Nashville's Lower Broadway.

The female melange included Mama's He's Crazy, Coal Miner's Daughter and Walking After Midnight by The Judds, Loretta Lynn, and Patsy Cline.

Terri Clark
Photo by Elvie Browne

And the male medley featured Hank Sr standard Your Cheating Heart, his son Bocephus tune A Country Boy Can Survive and Rose Coloured Glasses by singing mortician John Conlee.

There was also a facially contorted rendition George Jones epic, If Drinking Don't Kill Me Her Memory Will.

Blending of male lead and female choir on John Anderson's Swingin' was a bonus - her facial contortions a touch of the absurd on the Jones hit.

She followed with a bluesy cover of Love Me Like A Man, designed to showcase her vocal range.

Clark's interaction ignited the three-guitar attack on I Just Wanna Be Mad, assertive Better Things To Do and You're Easy On The Eyes.

So did a cowbell-clanging cut of her Warren Zevon penned hit Poor, Poor Pitiful Me.

But the final encore - refried rock - did little for an audience who may have preferred more fiddle and pedal steel.

Clark appeared to be latest in a long line of international acts persuaded to substitute rock covers for original material - because of a misconception that audiences didn't know their original music.

Sure, you don't hear much of their music in the big smoke but this audience was weaned on ABC and community radio and TV.

But if they have paid rural petrol prices and almost $50 a ticket it's a fair chance they want to hear the songs for which the artist is known.

Terri Clark
Photo by Elvie Browne

Good country songs have long been far more stimulating than generic rock filler.
So turbo tonkers Twang Thang, Catch 22, Working Girl or Was There A Girl On Your Boy's Night Out might have been a more fitting finale.

Geelong born Gold Guitarist Adam Harvey had the unenviable task as the solo entree act.
That was despite returning to a genuine hero's welcome after being the male island in the Sara Storer Gold Guitar winning Tamworth flood.

The young veteran, just 28, proved that his extensive national and international gigs and overseas writing sojourns have embellished the best male voice in the Australian country genre.


So did a high-octane version of Willie Nelson classic Crazy and a new song penned to his daughter, performed to balance Little Cowboy Dreams - written for son Conway.

Harvey's well-worn comedy was obviously fresh fodder for much of the audience but the new jokes were much better value.

It's a hard act opening for an international artist but there's an inherent danger too much comedy can detract from Harvey's real strength - his natural charisma, unique vocals and strong original material.

Now, if he reduces the comedy quota and diverts his passion to his stone country he will earn even more cred and sales.


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