I almost didn’t want to write this review. Something about the idea of trying to sum this performance up with words repulsed me. It seemed pretentious, inauthentic and completely at odds with what I experienced on Friday night at an unassuming little bar named Jive in Adelaide.
Wanderers, formerly known as the Wasted Wanderers, are rising stars of the Adelaide music scene. The concept of the show was two one hour sets, the first dedicated to the Little River Band, the second to Crosby, Stills and Nash. Had I known nothing about Wanderers previous to this, this show would have been the kind of thing I’d have simply skimmed over in the Fringe guide for fear that the poor sods attempting to recreate some very special moments in music history would fall embarrassingly short. I’d also have been very pleasantly surprised.
But I wasn’t surprised. Because I knew what I was in for. Since discovering them on the Zoo Stage of Womadelaide in 2016, I’ve been loudly touting the giftedness of this band. Frontman Dusty Lee was joined by two additional guitarists / vocalists for this show, as well as keys. I’m unsure of how long they had practiced together before the show. It sounded like they’d been doing it for a lifetime. Their craftsmanship was next level. Rather than listening to a cover band, you felt as if you were experiencing it the way it might have felt to be at one of either band’s original shows.
LRB has enjoyed many incarnations over the years and all were represented skilfully in the first half of this show. Classics like “Home On Monday” and “Happy Anniversary” were mixed in with hits like “Lonesome Loser”. Undoubtedly, the highlight was the passionate delivery of “Help Is On It’s Way” to end the set.
The Crosby, Stills and Nash half of the show was far more eclectic. And Neil Young was certainly not forgotten. Trying to encapsulate how well the heart of CSN was mirrored by this band is futile. Suffice to say, “Déjà vu”, “Marrakesh Express” and “Teach Your Children” were flawless and had the crowd in a trance. The most enjoyable piece of the set for mine was a heavy and emotionally loaded version of Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock”. A song, as Dusty pointed out, that was famously covered by CSN&Y and which beautifully captures the energy and meaning of that ubiquitous event despite the fact that Joni never made it there.
Yet, I think the most telling song of the night was a solo performance from Dusty of what he termed as his, ‘favourite Graham Nash song’, as he floated gracefully through a piano-only version of “Our House”.
My mixed emotions around reviewing this performance were based on the fact that it’s very clear that musicians of this stature are not doing it because they want the limelight. They’re doing it because it’s who they are and when that’s who you are you don’t have a choice, you have to do it. On the topic of why they decided to put the show together in the first place, Dusty offered this, ‘Because, Fringe.’
I need say no more.