|L-R. Richard Burgman, Jeremy Oxley, Peter Oxley. Photo by Carbie Warbie|
21 March 2014
Far from the hordes of Cat Empire fans across the road in Federation Square in average age and explicit enthusiasm, tonight the Forum attracts a more discerning crowd. Selling out the first of two shows, Australian power-pop legends Sunnyboys are amidst a comeback the likes of which they couldn't have predicted a couple of years ago.
Much like the red wine his surname suggests, Ron S Peno and the Superstitions are an acquired taste. Here he, and his proficient band, hold the reverent, attentive and largely over-40, crowd in his thrall. Moving like a flamenco dancer demonstrating ineffective swimming strokes, Peno is a galvanizing presence, but it’s not until the last third of the show that his voice opens up and we can hear what he’s feeling. Then, it's captivating. Call Your Name is the turning point of the set and by the closing with Myself in Thee the sound is huge and game is won.
After a brief video comprising live and promotional footage from their early days and a scene-setting interview the Sunnyboys stride out, accept the euphoric applause and launch into a thorough overview of their three albums. After opening with As I Walk, early song Love to Rule and Tunnel of My Love guitarist Richard Burgman (a man who doesn’t stop grinning all night) says 'It's been a long time boys and girls and we're very glad to be here'. Singer/songwriter Jeremy and brother bassist Peter Oxley are joined by another brother Jim for an exuberant take on Happy Man, and Alastair Spence jumps in on keyboards for Let You Go as the audience increasingly resemble the crowd across the street.
“How does it sound?” asks Burgman rhetorically to his bandmates after a brace of thrilling guitar pop that takes in What You Need, It’s Not Me and You Need a Friend and a lot of inter-band smiling. “I think they like it boys!” he laughs. The first set closes with a Nuggets-worthy I’m Shaking, before returning for Trouble in My Brain, the immortal Alone With You and a rugged Show Me Some Discipline. Howled out for a third encore, the victory lap of early single The Seeker introduced as “a song we haven't played in 20 years,” fills the room with joy. A stunning show, and not just to those who were lucky enough to grow up with the catchy musings of Jeremy Oxley on their Walkman.