Mark Seymour and the Undertow Review

Mark Seymour celebrates 30 years of song writing

Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne, 21st July 2017

Mark Seymour, best known as front man for Australia’s iconic band, Hunters and Collectors, is currently touring Australia, celebrating 30 years of songwriting with his latest band, The Undertow. To celebrate this monumental achievement, Mark has released a new album of 24 songs, Roll Back The Stone 1985-2016, which showcases his song writing and story-telling prowesses. It includes some of the best-known Hunters and Collectors tracks, re-recorded, as well as songs he has written independently from his old band.

Last night I had the privilege of seeing Mark Seymour and the Undertow perform in the beautiful Athenaeum Theatre in Melbourne. Also on stage was Mark’s daughter, Hannah, who provided strong, spine tingling backing harmonies. All 24 songs from the new album were performed, as well as other well-known Hunter’s tracks. ‘Holy Grail’ was the third song performed; solo and stripped back. A real anthem song, it is one of my personal favourites. In fact, most of the old Hunter’s songs were performed without the band, either solo or with Hannah providing harmonies. Old favourites like ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’, ‘Do You See What I See’, ‘When The River Runs Dry’ and ‘Say Goodbye’ were real crowd pleasers.

Each song was introduced with an interesting narrative, describing the origins that led to their creation. Many came from childhood memories, like ‘Classrooms and Kitchens’, a song that was written about his mother. A perilous family Sunday drive on an Alpine road in treacherous conditions inspired ‘Kosciusko’. Other songs carried political or social narratives and another message to come through was his ‘commit and believe’ advice.

One of the things that made the biggest impact on me was Mark’s passion. His amazing voice is as strong as ever, from the gravelly depths to the delicate highs. Many songs were sung with familiar gusto, accompanied by rollicking guitar playing. Others were serious and intense, providing the full gamut of emotions. Lead guitarist, Cameron McKenzie, was very impressive, making his guitar scream and wail with incredible precision. Together with dancing bass player John Favaro and drummer, Peter Maslen, The Undertows were able to provide a monstrous sound that equals any large band. ‘Westgate’ was particularly impressive for the amazing guitar sequence.

Full marks msut be awarded to the lighting technician, who created the most beautiful symmetrical lighting. Seated in the centre of the theatre, I was in the perfect spot to appreciate this wonderful spectacle. The sound was also faultless. Providing around two and a half hours of captivating music, Mark Seymour and The Undertows really gave the crowd their money’s worth, including a generous encore set. As I walked out of the theatre at the end of the night, the long queue lined up to buy the new album really impressed me. Mark promised to come out to the foyer to meet and greet, so I’m sure many patrons had a much later night. If you are able to catch one of the remaining shows, they definitely come highly recommended!

Tour Dates

Saturday 24 June – Theatre Royal, Hobart
Friday 30 June – Old Museum, Brisbane
Saturday 1 July – Old Museum, Brisbane
Friday 21 July – Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne
Saturday 22 July – Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne
Saturday 29 July – The Governor Hindmarsh, Adelaide
Thursday 17 August – The Basement, Sydney
Friday 18 August – The Basement, Sydney
Saturday 19 August – The Basement, Sydney
Saturday 26 August – Astor Theatre, Perth

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 Article & Images by Deb Kloeden