Review: Eskimo Joe with WASO — Fri 23 February 2018, Perth Concert Hall — Xpress Magazine

When a band announces their intentions to perform with an orchestra, there is always a bit of fear there that it won’t be as good as you anticipate it to be; that it could potentially change the songs in ways that you don’t like; they choose the wrong songs or it just doesn’t work. So while there was a buzz of excitement at the Perth Concert Hall on Friday night for Eskimo Joe, there was also that little bit of fear.

That fear definitely eased off when WASO (West Australian Symphany Orchestra) opened the proceedings with an instrumental version of Comfort You before Eskimo Joe stepped on stage for New York, Older Than You, Planet Earth, Liar and Sarah. Any remaining doubts that anyone had just vanished and everyone in the hall knew that they were in for an absolute treat.

“He’s got the wrong guitar,” Kav Temperley said to the audience. “We tried to keep it profesh!” Stu Macleod responded. “You come and see Eskimo Joe and you’re gonna get Eskimo Joe.” The room burst into laughter and they kicked on with Wake Up and Come Down. They had a false start with From The Sea as Temperley laughed “Oh wow! It goes like this.” They also played I’m So Tired, Breaking Up, Smoke and Running Out of Needs. In between songs, Temperley would speak about the background of some of the songs and it was great watching the camaraderie between him, MacLeod and Joel Quartermain, reminding everyone there just why we all love the Eskies so much.

While WASO must be commended for their arrangements, the lighting team deserve a special mention too. Not only were the lights fantastic but they really complemented the music and helped to build the right atmosphere for the songs – especially for Black Fingernails, Red Wine – with the orchestra behind it and red lighting, the song was taken to new heights. Ditto for London Bombs.

Temperley told us that the next song was written while they were in America. They were there for an Australian showcase, G’day WA and introduced by Bindi Irwin and John Travolta. It was only moments before they walked down the red carpet, that they were told about Heath Ledger’s death. Consequently, while sitting in a hotel room in Houston, Texas and watching all the news reports about Ledger, Temperley picked up his guitar and wrote Foreign Land. Just hearing about the story put a whole new meaning to the song and made it even more poignant.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s come to that time where we play our last song. It’s been our absolute pleasure to by invited to play this by WASO. We wrote these songs and to hear them presented like this is absolutely amazing.” Temperley said as they ended their set with the one-two of Love Is A Drug and Sky’s On Fire.

At shows like this, you usually have the audience singing along with every song however, there were times that you could have heard a pin drop because everyone in that room was so transfixed by the performance. When Eskimo Joe first wrote all of these songs, there would have been no way that they could have ever thought that they would hear their songs performed in such a way.

“You really have to take your hat off to every single person involved in the arrangements.”
Xpress Magazine

You really have to take your hat off to every single person involved in the arrangements. Not only did they do a brilliant job but they managed to ensure that they were understated in the right parts, letting Eskimo Joe do what they do best; lifting up the arrangements where needed and overall, taking the already great songs and making them transcend in ways that could only be dreamt about. It is a testament to the talented musicians in WASO and they truly deserve all the praise.

A wonderful performance. My only personal complaint is that they no longer play Sweater (would have loved to have seen what the orchestra did with that song). Not so bad in the scheme of things. A most entertaining night.

Review: Karen Lowe
Xpress Magazine