OCTOBER 6 – 2019
ROD LAVER ARENA
TIM MCGRAW & DANCE HALL DOCTORS
DON'T CALL TRAVIS COLLINS CRAZY
“So call me crazy but sometimes I feel you here/ and I chase your footsteps and watch you disappear/ and I hear your voice and I see your face/ like you never left this place/ and I don't know what I'm gonna do/ I'm trying to move on/ and I can't figure out who's holding on.” - Call Me Crazy - Travis Collins.
Traffic turmoil precluded this reviewer catching the entrée of seven-time Golden Guitarist and inaugural CMA Australian global winner Travis Collins strutting his stuff.
But the 35-year-old singer proved his overseas tours and writing sessions were fertile fodder for working an enthusiastic crowd.
Collins interplay with his band meant his delivery was animated and accessible with his vocals front and centre in the mix.
It also meant that he could mix and match a hedonistic hell-raiser like High Horse and Just Another Girl from his sixth album Brave & The Broken with his suicide awareness anthem Call Me Crazy.
“This is a torch for my guardian angel,” Collins revealed before he performed Call Me Crazy - inspired by the suicide of his wife Rebecca's father in 2013 in the Hunter Valley .
Collins is an active ambassador for R U OK ? - an Australian organisation providing information and guidance on depression and suicide.
Equally memorable was his jubilation jaunt Happy , that was also accompanied by his vibrant video when screened on Nu Country TV on April 20.
Collins dynamic delivery proved he was a worthy winner of the 2019 CMA Global artist award.
MIDLAND – MR LONELY WITHOUT DENNIS QUAID
“We got debutantes and socialites/ and mamas from the PTA/ we got bachelorettes dressed up in white/ and little black dress divorcees/ long live the blues, they're keeping me in business/ some wanna dance and some wanna party/ whatever they need, they call me.” Mr Lonely - Mark Wystrach-Jess Carson-Cameron Duddy- Shane McAnally-Josh Osborne.
Texan trio Midland may have grown to a quintet for its Australian tour but there was one major guest missing when they performed their latest hit Mr Lonely.
Yes, you've guessed it - Texan actor Dennis Quaid, now 65, who starred in their video on Nu Country TV on August 24.
The audience didn't seem to mind when they kicked off with Playboys and Burn Out before revving up signature song 21 st Century Honky Tonk American Band.
For those unfamiliar with the band's music the excess reverb was mass distraction from the lyrics.
But for diehard fans it was a vibrant visual experience for the trio who now live at Dripping Springs - locale of the first of Shotgun Willie Nelson's 46 July 4 picnics.
The song is on their second album Let It Roll that doesn't appear to have been released here yet.
They took their name from Kentuckian singing actor Dwight Yoakam song Fair To Midland and scored a Top 10 hit with Drinking Problem - one of 15 songs they wrote at Sonic Ranch near El Paso , West Texas.
That song was familiar with the audience who may have recalled lead singer Mark Wystrach was an actor-underwear model before meeting bassist-video director Cameron Duddy and lead guitarist Jess Carson at Jess's wedding in Jackson Hole , Wyoming .
The trio was augmented by energetic road guitarist Luke Cutchen and drummer-multi-instrumentalist Robbie Crowell who swapped his drum kit with Duddy for the final two songs - Lost In The Night and 14 Gears.
But back to the middle stanza - they debuted the punny Drinking Problem , written with Josh Osborne and their producer Shane McAnally, on a five song EP that followed their debut album On The Rocks in 2017.
They also energised Put The Hurt On Me , Fast Hearts And Slow Towns and Roll Away before slowing the tempo for Mr Lonely.
It would seem Mr Lonely may have been a case of life imitating art - a bucolic beau proposed to a buxom belle in the mosh pit between the Midland finale and McGraw and The Dance Hall Doctors arrival on stage.
Luckily all mosh pit inhabitants were issued with wrist bands to ensure their safe return if nature called after an ample sampling of spirits, beer and wine in four packs with allowance of spillage.
TIM - THE REAL MCGRAW SHOTGUN RIDER
“Horses are running wide open I just gotta ride/ to those honky-tonk bars that stay open way past closing time/ songs about free thinking and drinking sure light my fire/ that flame leaves a scar on my heart like an old branding iron/ she said, Rodeo man, where are you going?/ don't you know that the life of a cowboy is no good alone?/ if you tear down that fence of rusty barbed wire/ then I'll lay down beside you and be your shotgun rider.” - Shotgun Rider - Marv Green-Troy Verges-Hillary Lindsey.
“My name is Tim McGraw,” the treble Grammy winning maestro quipped.
“This is my third time I have played here, twice with my wife. I have been doing this for 30 years. I was 24 when I made my first album. I have got some old songs and some new songs. The older you get the harder it is to sing.”
Aged just 52 and with more than 20 albums, 50 million sales, two score acting roles, 23 years marriage to Faith and three artistic daughters it didn't seem like singing was much of a chore.
It wasn't hard to revive many of his other hits including Where The Green Grass Grows, For A Little While, and Everywhere.
He also debuted new song - the powerful Thought About You , illustrated by a time capsule lyric video featuring his mother Betty who raised Tim and his two sisters alone, and other family and career snapshots.
The song, penned by Lee Thomas Miller and Brad Warren and Brett Warren who played the Continental Café - then ID'S in Prahran - on their nineties Australian tour, is on Tim's new album set for 2020 release.
Equally as powerful was another new song Neon Church ( Hallelujah Amen .)
And, of course, biographical Good Taste In Women .
“This is the story of my life,” McGraw revealed.
“I have been married to Faith for more than 20 years. We have three golden girls. I sing with Faith on tours. But she's not here this time. I only get to sing with her and them at home at weekends.”
KICKING HIGH WITH ST NICK
“Spent forty-eight dollars last night at the county fair/ I threw out my shoulder but I won her that teddy bear/ she's got me saying sugar-pie, honey, darling, and dear/ I ain't seen the Braves play a game all year/ I'm gonna get fired, if I don't get some sleep/ my long-lost buddies say I'm getting in too deep.” - I Like It I Love It - Jeb Stuart Anderson-Steve Dukes-Markus Hall.
McGraw chanced his arm with a gridiron throw of another Sherrin.
Earlier in the season Tim offered to sing at the AFL grand final in an interview with this reviewer.
He revealed he had been a guest of Collingwood at a previous preliminary final against St Kilda.
Nick played in that final but Tim was photographed in the Herald Sun in a Collingwood jumper.
“I think they played the Saints. The energy was fantastic. There were 80,000 people there. Put my name up, that would be great.”
Since then Nick, now 36, married Catherine Heard - daughter of a Waco, Texas, rancher - and exhibited a passion for country music including attending the Lee Kernaghan-Dierks Bentley concert at the Palais in 2012.
Nick upstaged Richmond premiership full forward cousin Jack who performed Mr. Brightside with The Killers after a previous footy season climax.
Dual Grammy winner Tim played the father of Michael Oher, an offensive lineman drafted by Baltimore Ravens in the National Football League, in award winning 2009 movie The Blind Side with Sandra Bullock cast as Oher's mother.
Tim's dad Tug McGraw, who died at 59 on January 5, 2004, was a Major League Baseball relief pitcher and coined the phrase, Ya Gotta Believe .
After high school graduation Tim attended Northeast Louisiana University on a baseball scholarship as member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.
But a knee injury playing baseball for the college prevented a professional career in sports.
Meanwhile back to the tennis court main stage.
The singer performed another Grammy winning song Humble And Kind - penned by Massachusetts mother of five Lori McKenna - to an evocative video backdrop.
“This is my last show in Australia on this trip,” McGraw announced as the stage lights ignited.
“But not forever.”
Tim then followed the footballs into the audience and played every corner of the arena and plucked babes in arms into his arms as he acted out the sentiments of another huge hit Live Like You Were Dying.
There was a traditional hush as the lights darkened and the band followed the star backstage.
But the audience knew there was an encore in the Sabbath wind.
It was no surprise that encore was Real Good Man and his embryonic smash and crowd pleaser Indian Outlaw.
This enabled Tim remove his shirt, but not his hat, to the mosh pit patrons and matrons who took selfies of his posterior for posterity.
But there was one surprise for those awaiting the Wattle Park No 70 tram.
A country fan driving a Dandenong Hyundai spotted two passengers awaiting the Yarra tram so he drove along the tracks, did a swift U-turn, and beckoned two older women to join him.
Yes, a true Cowboy/Indian Outlaw.
Photos by Carol Taylor.
Review by David Dawson