WAIFS - PALAIS THEATRE
a fresh breeze when sisters joke of timing a five-week holiday with
their family to coincide with the salmon fishing season on the south
west coast of the nation.
Especially when Vikki and Donna Simpson delve in self-deprecation
by quipping they're "trailer trash" - third generation of
an Albany fisher family.
Not what you receive from image driven divas and drongos of unreality
TV fads and city fashion.
But The Waifs have long been divorced from music industry chains -
that's why they had a capacity crowd on a triumphant return to a city
that was a launch pad for their career.
Augmented by drummer David McDonald and bassist Ben Franz, they responded
to hush in the historic theatre by casting off with biographical Donna
Simpson tune Fisherman's Daughter and guitarist Josh Cunningham's
Flesh And Blood.
on acoustic guitar and Vikki Simpson injecting accessible tales with harmonica
in a surreal light show there was no need for forced patter.
Vikki revealed a humorous harmonica deathbed chat with her grandpa before
Donna tried out her new banjo, perched on a stool on Crazy Train.
Grandpa taught Vikki harmonica and encouraged Donna to strut her stuff
on banjo - not clear if he had a hand in their duelling dance routines.
The trio punctuated tunes from fifth album Up All Night with Take It In
from their debut disc and others from Sink Or Swim before the evocative
Donna songs London Still and Highway One.
imagery of life on the road, nationally and internationally, propelled
some finer moments - Vikki Simpson harvested hay from hell in their Austin,
Nashville and Jackson jaunt Three Down.
But a different journey of the sisters' grandmother Betty, with baby daughter,
to join her Colorado chief petty officer husband Bob, steamed wheels of
Vikki's tune Bridal Train.
Vikki, maybe jaded by pre-concert re-enactments of the journey source,
began to explain her eulogy but decided to sing it instead.
Cunningham, perhaps happy to play third fiddle, impacted on the occasions
when he sang lead on Lighthouse and A Brief History - a
heartfelt homily about playing with the sisters since meeting 12 years
ago in Broome.
This organic country folk mix ignites one of our best musical exports
of a new millenium.
Fluid playing and droll dancing enhances their charm on original tunes
and explains why they have graced stages with artists diverse as Dylan
and Michelle Shocked.
It also hints that The Waifs are destined to expand overseas success after
birth of Vikki Simpson's pending child.
And, yes, they exuded altruism by inviting support act Tim Rogers on stage
to guest on guitar for second encore song - Dylan's Lonesome When You
A fitting finale was their inspired rendition of When I Die (Won't
You Bury Me In The Town I Was Born) - a sibling of Mississippi stable-mate
Kate Campbell's Bury Me In Bluegrass.
This may be their last Aussie tour for 2004 - but a live album in May
will be swift solace.
DAVID DAWSON 2004
/ back to articles