[LIVE REVIEW] Jimmy Webb & Friends – Hamer Hall, Melbourne 09/07/2018

Multiple grammy award winner Jimmy Webb may not be a household name, but he is the man synonymous with more hits than I have had hot dinners. His illustrious career has been long and plentiful bringing joy to his fans for many years. Singer-songwriter extraordinaire, Jimmy has worked with everyone who is anyone in the business and we were to be treated to just a small sample of the hits over the course of the evening.

Hamer Hall was the perfect choice with its dynamic acoustics and comfortable seats, it is always a joy to attend shows in this iconic theatre. As I made my way in with none other than Brian Cadd walking next to me I knew it would be a who’s who of the music industry in attendance, all stepping out to witness the musical brilliance that is Jimmy Webb.  The show is titled Jimmy Webb and Friends, I certainly wish I had friends like David Campbell, Jimmy Barnes, Ian Moss, Kate Ceberano and Ed Kuepper to accompany me for a little sing-a-long!

This live collaboration was a spectacular affair from the first song until the last, with our Aussie superstars doing justice to every tune, all honoured to be sharing the stage with such a living legend of the industry. Jimmy’s stunning wife Laura Savini opened the show with a brief history of how the show was the brainchild of John Zaccaria, and it was his fabulous idea to add a full band and orchestra to the mix with some of our most prestigious singers on offer.

The man himself took the stage to huge applause and welcomed David Campbell to join him for The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. We know that good pipes run in the family, but he is definitely a crooner not a screamer like his superstar Dad! His voice like liquid velvet, melting hearts with every word sung.  Kate Ceberano was next with If These Walls Could Speak, looking radiant and sounding amazing, with a smile that could light up a room, Kate was such a pleasure to watch perform. Jimmy then performed a lovely compilation of gospels song starting with I Will Arise. His piano an extension of his hands, lovingly tinkling while he chatted, such a fine storyteller. Next, The Worst That Could Happen, and Where’s The Playground Susie? accompanied by Jimmy Barnes, with an all-star cast of backup singers popping out to accompany, each finding their sweet spot and serenading perfectly, Kate’s sultry vocals blending beautifully.

Whistles and applause saw Ian Moss take to the stage for Didn’t We? His voice as smooth as caramel and very different from how we normally see him. A nightingale in wolves clothing, singing sweetly and making the ladies swoon. Jimmy Barnes was the perfect selection for Galveston, he did joke that he got in first and picked what he wanted with Galveston being one of his all-time favourite tunes. He sang with passion, not a scream to be heard, he did a sterling job of this song made famous by Glen Campbell back in 1969. The father/son duet of Barnes and Campbell finished out set one with Wichita Lineman, I felt truly blessed to witness such an exceptional conclusion to what was a most amazing first half.

After a brief refreshment break Ed Kuepper made his first appearance with The Hive, then Jimmy Barnes joined him for a hilarious duet of Honey Come Back, singing to each other like lovers which gave us all a good belly laugh. The duo of Jimmy’s then shared their secret, a new song, When The Loving Was Easy, and what a cracker it was, Jimmy Webb pulling these rippers out of his never-ending songbook with ease. Kate and David took on the huge All I Know, making us all sigh, so beautifully performed it could warm the coldest of hearts. Ian Moss returned sans his guitar treating us to an exquisite performance of By The Time I Get To Phoenix, all I can say is WOW, Mossy knocked it out of the park with this timeless track, so very impressive.  It was all hands on deck for Up, Up and Away, voices mixing perfectly for this exemplary hit. Written at a time when drugs were at the forefront of most songs, Jimmy did reassure us that it really is just a song about ‘balloons’, giving us all a giggle. His humour over the course of the evening was very entertaining, and while it was a mature based audience, they certainly ‘got’ his jokes and laughed along enjoying every minute. David swooned through Adios sharing the vocals with Jimmy Webb a gorgeous addition to the setlist. We all knew MacArthur Park was coming and we lived in hope that Kate would be the one to sing it. Luck was definitely on our side as Kate glided onto the stage, stating she was feeling the pressure of singing this worldwide hit. She needn’t have worried, she was superb, the orchestra and band sublime as the song built as only MacArthur Park can. Mossy even treated us to a blistering solo in the middle which really rocked it up. Kate took it to celestial heights by its conclusion, leaving us all feeling like we were in seventh heaven. The Highwayman was our final song of the evening, Barnsey, David, Kate and Ed sang it with the respect it deserved, it was the perfect finale for this wonderful night.

We were all on our feet for a standing ovation as final bows were taken. The audience was spellbound from start to finish, with phones left respectfully in bags and pockets, everyone living in the moment, which is a rarity these days.  With only Sydney and Melbourne privy to these shows I feel like I got to witness something very special that will never be seen again. As Jimmy said, sometimes he wishes he could put things ‘on ice’ so they aren’t forgotten, well tonight’s show will be frozen in my memory forever.

Review Contributed by Cassandra Hale