News

30 Apr 2014

Band by name alone. When should a band name extinguish?

CX learned a long time ago that music fans get riled about whether ‘their’ band has been dissed. So when Australian Story detailed the terminal illness and decline into loneliness of former Angels front man Doc Neeson, we had some flaming. Because we suggested (on Facebook) that it was time to put the band name away.

It reminded us of a similar story we ran back in 2002, about how Little River Band were and still are touring the USA – these days with a 100% American lineup.

Here’s our 2002 story:

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Soaring harmonies. Young crackerjack backing band. Ultra tight live concert mix. Classic hits. It’s Not The Little River Band, and they are back together again – fighting to use their name.

Sydney’s Enmore Theatre hosted the prototype Birtles Shorrock Goble concert with a full house last night, followed by two standing ovations. If ever a reunion or legacy rock act deserves success it’s this one, with the three founders of Little River Band reaffirming they deserve the tag bestowed upon them as ‘the best singing band in the world’.

Hitting the stage with exactly the same opener as the first time I saw the group in the late 1970’s, the soaring harmony of “Hey Everybody, Yeah …… Don’t You Feel That There’s Something…..” made hair stand on my neck. The band blazed into “It’s a long way there”, and the very rare magic of truly high musical and production values kicked in. For two hours, hit after hit followed, with every complex musical part played out as well as on the original recordings.

The show was notable for most excellent sound. Sydney’s Enmore Theatre is a difficult barn for a rock act, and many – including Oasis – have fought the room acoustic. Former LRB engineer Ernie Rose ventured out of his studio environment at Metropolis to drive a Soundcraft MH4 console with a Crown powered EAW KF 750 PA from Norwest, and had the audience looking at each other in wonder.

The soaring harmonies actually seemed to work better this time around, and certainly sounded stronger than on record. The band shot to number one in the USA on the back of voices that fit like a glove, and strong hits mainly penned by Goble.

Musicians, engineers, and industry people need to experience the Birtles Shorrock Goble sound to reassess what is a leading edge concert sound and band package. The mainly Melbourne based musicians backing the trio are staggeringly good young musicians.

Dorian West plays keyboards, plus flugelhorn and trumpet for certain songs. For example in “Days On The Road”, Dorian takes the second solo on trumpet where on the record it was a flute which has made the song sound so sophisticated and leaning towards being almost jazz. He plays the flugelhorn solo at the end of “Reminiscing” which is just like the record.

Dave Beck on drums plays very solidly, he’s definitely a song guy as he is very observant of what is required. His “feel” for things is amazing.

Jason Vorherr plays bass and joins on certain vocal lines. The guy has learned every bass lick from every song that has been recorded and is playing them live in the set.  Alejandro Vega is from Chile, and plays percussion. The rhythm section has been extended by the addition of percussion.

Finally, young and good looking Simon Hosford is on lead guitar and adds a very tasteful style. He plays very well together with Beeb Birtles on the dual guitar lines helps out on certain vocal lines as well. This guy encapsulates all styles from several different significant lead guitarists through the bands long history. His contribution was probably the musical highlight of the night.

The band have the five part harmony of “Reminiscing” on the record covered for the live shows.

Adding Beeb Birtles and Grahame Goble on guitar, with lead singer Glenn Shorrock at ease and at home in the role, the combination is smooth, tight, musical and together.

Ernie Rose has assumed a rare feat, being part of what at the time was one of the best sounding live acts of the 1970’s and 1980’s, he has now stepped back in front of new technology and produced a live concert mix that equals any of the best we have heard in the past decade.

This is a revival act that faces an uphill battle to conquer its target market, the USA heritage rock touring scene, because there is already a Little River Band there. The name was assigned to a member of the band in 1992, English guitarist Steve Housden. He maintains a band that also contains former bass player Wayne Nelson, with pickup singers and musicians. They tour the USA each year, playing gigs like The Twin Cities Rib Fest and the Casino Rama as The Little River Band, despite never having written any of the dozen or so major hits that sold 25 million albums.

The American Little River Band promote themselves as ‘Australian’, have no Australians in the line up, and didn’t write the hit songs they play.

A court hearing in Australia recently upheld the legal rights of Housden trading as We Two Pty Ltd, to use the Little River Band name, forcing Beeb Birtles, Glenn Shorrock and Grahame Goble to bill themselves under their own names. In Australia the inability to perform as LRB may have limited ticket sales, with a test run of regions and main city theatres selling very well this month. But as LRB the act may well sold in larger venues.

There is no announcement of the future plans of the group, which are complicated by the fact that Beeb Birtles now lives in Nashville. A DVD of a concert on the Australian tour will be released next year.

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