The Whitlams Black Stump Band

Nicki Alchin
2nd Apr 2023

Indie rock royalty, Tim Freedman, is mixing things up a bit these days. His show last night at The Factory Theatre in Marrickville with The Whitlams Black Stump Band is testament to his desire to try new directions from time to time.

2022 was a trip down memory lane for Tim and his fans. He and The Whitlams toured around the traps to perform from start to finish the album Eternal Nightcap, released some 25 years ago in 1997. Upon its release, Eternal Nightcap gained acclaim from not only fans but also the industry, and subsequently won the 1998 Aria Award for Best Independent Release, as well as landing the band Arias for Best Group and Best Single for No Aphrodisiac after the public had voted the single in the number one spot of the 1998 Triple J Hottest 100 (famously announced by Gough Whitlam).

Fast forward to 31 March 2023 where I caught Tim once more on tour. This time round though he was showcasing his alt country super group version of The Whitlams ... The Whitlams Black Stump Band to be precise. A band born in 2021 during the depths of covid, it is a surprising detour for one of Australia’s most loved bands, featuring some of Australia’s finest roots musicians, namely Rod McCormack on banjo and acoustic guitar, Ollie Thorpe on pedal steel and electric guitar, producer Matt Fell on bass, and long-time Whitlams drummer Terepai Richmond on drums, and just for a little surprise, we also had for a song or two, George Washingmachine on stage playing his violin .

Tim kept faithful Whitlams fans happy on the night by playing a good selection of favourites by rolling into No Aphrodisiac for the second song. We also got to hear Ballad of Lester Walker, You Sound Like Louis Burdett with its local flavour citing Marrickville and Tempe, the reimagined Blow Up The Pokies (re-released under the Black Stump banner) that The Wesley Mission featured in a recent campaign, and finishing the night with an encore that featured Charlie No. 2 - Buy Now Pay Later.

I am hoping the die hard Whitlams fans were also equally as happy with the selection of tunes that Tim decided to present with The Whitlams Black Stump Band such as the Perry Keyes penned tune The Day John Satler Broke His Jaw (in tribute to the great man whose funeral was held that day in Qld), 50 Again, Kate Kelly (sung as a duet with Felicity Urquhart), Fallen Leaves (a co-write with Perry Keyes and Matt Fell) and Your Boyfriend's Back In Town (to be on the new album). We also heard some Black Stump renditions of tunes by Kris Kristopherson and The Grateful Dead.

Tim was in fine form being very chatty with tales both old and new of song writing, touring and life in general. He was thankful to be playing with his talented super group and having a fine support act in Felicity Urquhart (vocals, banjo and accoustic guitar), Josh Cunningham (vocals and accoustic guitar - ex The Waifs) and James Gillard on double bass who, with their tight alt-country trio set up the night perfectly for Tim and The Whitlams Black Stump Band.

The final sweetener of the night for die hard Whitlams fans was the chance to chat with Tim at the gig's conclusion while he signed merch, including the 5 track Black Stump taster of their forthcoming album. All in all, a fun night of fine song writing and musical performance. No doubt we will be lining up for whatever music outfit Tim decides to tour with next.