Live Review: Jon Stevens + Kate Ceberano – The Palms, Melbourne (14.07.17)

Jon Stevens kicked off his Starlight Album Tour at the Palms in Melbourne, with special guest, long-time friend Kate Ceberano. Opening the show with some classic covers, Phil Ceberano and band brought a level of excitement and intensity often lacking by opening bands.

Later joining her brother on stage, Kate sang some her greatest hits: “Bedroom Eyes”, “Pash”, “Brave”, the cheeky “Young Boys are My Weakness”, Peggy Seeger‘s “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face” from her covers album, Nine Lime Avenue, and “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” to standing ovations. Describing Jon as, “The best root I never had!” her naughty humour had the room in stitches. Her voice shone, proving song-and-song-again why she is one our most loved Australian songstresses.

After a short interval and video package (which changed throughout the set), Jon took the stage, backed by a twelve-piece band: including a three-piece brass section, keyboard, bass, guitarists and back-up singers.

The release of his tenth studio album (highest charting  Australian release to date), Starlight was co-written with legendary Eurythmics songwriter Dave Stewart, and features an appearance by The BeatlesRingo Starr and a duet with “Absolutely Everybody”’s favourite, Vanessa Amorosi.

The show kicked into high-gear with the edgy “Devil In My Heart”, followed by the explosive first single, “Hold On” kicked the show into high gear! He followed with the killer new single, “Feel Like Letting Go”, and other album tracks: catchy “What Makes You Happy” and the incredible, “Starlight”. With its powerful lyrics about taking ones own life; the title ballad brought the audience to silence, leaving everyone in awe of his vocal power and range.

A pair of red panties was thrown on stage during “Oh Lord”. The 54-year-old remarked the oddity in taking the Lord’s name in vain during the incident. He seemed slightly stunned, yet chuffed, as he cheekily hung them from his back pocket. During the show, he shook the hands of the lucky ladies in the front row; Jon and Kate stayed back after the show to shake the hands of those not fast enough to nab front row tickets, as well as sign merchandise and pose for photos.

The solid set list included fan favourites: “Take Me Back”, “Reach Out”, “You Can’t Do Anything To Hurt Me“, “Hot Chilli Woman” and “No Lies”. No bullshit. No script. It was pure rock and roll with a touch of honest soul – something he explored on his 2011 release, Testify!

A highlight was hearing him sing a snippet of “Heaven On Their Minds” noting, it was the first time he’d sung it in 25 years, since he played Judas in the 1992 stage production of Jesus Christ Superstar, alongside John Farnham’s Jesus and Kate Ceberano as Mary Magdalene. With Kate later joining him for “Everything’s Alright” from the same musical, during the five-song finale, with Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s 1967 duet, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”; Noiseworks‘ “Take You Higher” and finishing off with “Proud Mary.”

The show was as much about the stellar instrumentals as it was about the powerhouse vocals. Everyone in large ensemble was given their time to shine when brought forward for an introduction solo. There was a real sense of familiarity, comfortability and joy from both stage and audience. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t enjoy the show – including those who may have been unenthusiastically dragged.

It was hands down one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to! Up-and-coming-artists could learn a thing or two from watching the seasoned performer. The New-Zealand born singer-songwriter started singing at 16, recording his debut album Jezebel in 1980, and eventually fronting rock-band Noiseworks. He later joined INXS (2000-2013), after the passing of Michael Hutchence, before forming The Dead Daisies.

In three words – Go! – See! – It!

TOUR DATES:

Wednesday 26th July 2017
Her Majesty’s Theatre, ADELAIDE SA
www.adelaidefestivalcentre.com.au

Friday 4th August 2017
Anita’s Theatre, THIRROUL NSW
www.anitastheatrethirroul.com

Saturday 5th August 2017
Enmore Theatre, SYDNEY NSW
www.enmoretheatre.com.au

Thursday 10th August 2017
Concert Hall QPAC, BRISBANE QLD
www.qpac.com.au

Saturday 12th August 2017
Twin Towns, TWEED HEADS NSW
www.twintowns.com.au

Friday 18th August 2017
Astor Theatre, PERTH WA
www.astortheatreperth.com