All posts by Mark Mayhew

The Waifs – The Tanks Arts Centre

For any artist to celebrate a 20th anniversary is a proud achievement and The Waifs commemorate the release of their platinum-selling album, Up All Night, back in 2003. I remember hearing them often on Triple J at the time, particularly the hit single, London Still.

From their grass roots in WA, sisters Donna Simpson and Vikki Thorn accompanied by Josh Cunningham forged a career that led them to the top of the charts and stages across the world, supported by Ben Franz on bass and David Ross on drums.

As part of the celebrations for 20 years since the release of Up All Night, The Waifs graced the stage of Tanks Art Centre over two nights for us here in Cairns.

Proceedings began with the support act being locally-based artist, Tullara. Relishing the opportunity to play a full house, she played with much passion, energy and excitement. If the task of a support act is to warm up the crowd, then Tullara did the job very well. There were many people bopping their heads and dancing along. The mood was set in anticipation for the main artist.

I will comment that it was nice to not have music blaring between sets. It gave people the opportunity to have a conversation in a group without struggling to hear the person next to you, which can be a challenge if you have probably listened to too much loud music like myself. The focus was more on the live music.

Then The Waifs hit the stage. Although to “hit it” is something that folk bands don’t do, according to Donna whose stories delivered with a comical twist between songs made me think she moonlights as a comedian.

Back to the band, it is easy to see why The Waifs have had their success. A note perfect performance. The highly energetic Vikki has a very sweet voice and is quite an adept harmonica player. Donna has an equally pleasant voice and both sisters harmonise well. Josh is a great vocalist in his own right but his standout feature would have to be his lead guitar playing. Mostly on acoustic too, quite exceptional. Together with Ben and David, the band plays with much cohesion.

Donna made the comment that the audience was very chilled yet responsive on the Sunday night compared to the party vibe on Saturday. She made the comment a number of times and was appreciative of the ambience. Donna was told that it was due to the audience being comprised largely of people from Kuranda and the tablelands. I don’t know, maybe it’s to do with the thin air or possibly something else they’re breathing in up there.

In all, it was a great night and I would recommend seeing both the main and support artists. Something out of my usual tastes but nice nonetheless. And Tank 5 is a great venue too adding to the enjoyment of the night. I’ll have to do it again sometime soon.

Pic by Mark Mayhew

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