There was a festival in Mornington Peninsula on Saturday, and it made me muse on the fact that if Buzz Magazine was still around, I probably would have been sent on assignment, and would have seen Dave McCormack play something billed in an interview in Beat as a ‘family friendly’ set. I may even have been offered an interview, although if the stories the editor told me are true, David might still hold a grudge against the paper for printing the headline ‘Custard Thickens.’
David McCormack and the Polaroids,
The Toff In Town, Melbourne, February 27, 2011
Luckily, I wasn’t made to face my fear of driving distances to the festival, since I’d noticed a slip of an advertisment at the bottom of a page in the paper for a show at the Toff on Sunday. Although I was dubious of the venue’s usual cabaret-style seating for a gig, for a ten dollar entry fee for the front-man of my all-time favourite Australian band seemed like a no-brainer.
I arrived part way into the second support band, Trevor Ludlow and the Hellraisers, but I hadn’t been watching them from the bar for long when my attention was drawn away from the band by someone shouting remarks about their playing and music at the stage. I quickly found the source of the comments sitting at a table near the mixing deck. Mr David McCormack himself, sharing private jokes across the room with the band on stage, trying to keep straight faces.
They seemed like a pretty good band, playing a laid back kind of rock and roll, finishing on an instrumental number that they aptly compared to The Munsters theme, if they had made a surf film.
Once they’d finished, I grabbed a couple of drinks and took a place at a table at the front of the stage, joined by someone I would later learn to be a part of some kind of concert bootlegging ring. It wasn’t long until, without fanfare, Dave and his band started setting up on stage. It was while they were still setting up, in fact, that David introduced himself, and started playing Under Your Thumb from the current album. It was this early on that Dave and his band started to get their first laughs. I’ve never really found the comedy in musical comedy, but I got a few laughs out of the gig, without wishing they’d just hurry up and play more songs like I usually do.
As well as some old Custard classics, it was good to finally hear the songs from the Polaroids albums live. A highlight was an extended version of Living Under The Flight Path… played, at Mr McCormack’s request, with all the stage lights off, no houselights, and, after stepping off the stage and into the audience, without even the light of the candles on the tables, which he systematically blew out, before sitting with me at the table to play a verse.
The new pianist, some guy called Brian, seems a welcome addition to the band, and David pointed out Brian’s obvious talent – along with the fact the pair had only met hours earlier – several times throughout the set. He proved his skill during an extended piano solo during If I Put An AVO Out On You… which turned into a protracted jam session, twisting the song in unexpected ways.
It has been over ten years since I saw my last Custard gig – their final in Melbourne at St Kilda Festival – and it was good to hear those songs live again. I hope it won’t be so long between drinks next time.