24 November 2012

Bob Evans and Thelma Plum at the Bella Union

I had two goals this week. To get lots of rest post hospital and to go to Bob Evans live at the Bella Union (at the Trades Hall in Lygon Street Carlton) on Friday night. The last time he was at the Bella Union, I was on a plane from England to America. I achieved both of these things - rested and went to his show, and this morning, though tired, I'm happy. Music truly is good for the soul.

Note - I may be inconsistent with referring to Bob as Kevin in this post. Bob Evans and Kevin Mitchell are the same person, yeah.

The Bella Union is the perfect venue for a gig - it's intimate, drinks are cheap, and there are tables and chairs, plus armchairs and couches. I've often thought of taking my own chair (one of those walking sticks with a fold out seat would be perfect) to a stand up gig, and so I am thankful for any venue with a chair that is close to the stage - the Bella Union definitely met my needs! I went on my own (like I do for most gigs) and sat next to a nice couple who are also into a lot of Aussie music. I also met a blog reader (hi Jackie!) and a dermatologist who saw me speak at the hospital last month.

The gig was opened by young Brisbane singer Thelma Plum and her guitarist Andrew, who has no surname. I adored her from her first song. Thelma Plum - how could I have missed her? Methinks I need to listen to more Triple J (she was a J Award finalist) - she is wonderful! I think she's the next big thing.

Her voice moves between angelic and ocker, her strine sounding a little Missy Higgins. Her clothes echoed this - she wore a pretty white dress paired with Blundstone workboots. She is strikingly beautiful. And very tall. I loved everything about her, and look forward to her upcoming EP - she told me it'd be out soon. You can download her songs via Triple J Unearthed.

Bob Evans, as I expected, was wonderful. He played a few songs from his upcoming album Familiar Stranger (due out in March 2013) including a heartfelt song dedicated to his daughter called Wonderful You (which, he said, is something you don't do in the rock and roll industry, but "fuck that"). My favourites were Hand Me Downs, Someone So Much, Waiting Room, Sadness and Whisky, Wonderful You, Don't You Think it's Time and Nowhere Without You.


Bob Evans' music makes me nostalgic - I think back to when I first heard him on Triple J, six years ago when I moved back to Albury to get my life back on track, and I am so thankful for that time, not only because I discovered his music. I also think about my little old car (it was 27) deteriorating, and as he sang Ode to My Car, I remembered how I played that song on its trip to the wrecking yard. He says it's a silly song ("not a metaphor for a relationship like some think, it's actually about a car") but I think many people can relate to their old car being at the end of its life.
The banter with the audience is part of the charm of his shows (I do hope that if he ever takes a break from music, he will have his very own radio show, because he's very funny and a good talker). Initially he commented on a few occasions about how quiet we were, adding that it means the night is all about him. A lot of the banter was very funny, in a self deprecating way. I like a musician who's not afraid to take the piss out of himself. He told us how his first album has sold as many units in 10 years to give it copper status "you never hear about copper albums", he said. He also introduced The Power Of Speech as a bossonova song, "the sexiest type of music, next to heavy metal", and talked a little of his "lack of prowess" with females when he was a teen - "I know, it's hard to believe when you look at me now", he said, pointing to himself. He took requests (but only of the songs he'd rehearsed), and invited a guy (Jesse from Warnambool) on stage to play the harmonica during Turn. He was surprised when Jesse more prepared than him, and did a great job on the harmonica. He also threw me out a hello when he spotted me while reaching for his wine.
There were a few technical glitches, and despite jokes about not being a professional musical, Bob Evans handled these moments with excellent improvisation and humour. In Hand Me Downs, his guitar lost power twice - the cord fell out. He realised things weren't working because he hadn't turned his guitar lights on. And then, cutting short a beautiful true acoustic rendition of Don't You Think it's Time (where he got off stage and sang amongst the audience), a fire alarm sounded. He got back on stage, found the key of the fire alarm on his harmonica ("it's G") and then mimicked the sound. I think the highlight of the show was The Fire Alarm song - the made up on the spot lyrics punctuated with choruses of fire alarm mimicking - absolutely exclusive to this show! It was very funny. A video is here.

After the show, Kevin met with fans, signing CDs (each audience member got a free Double Life CD) and teatowels, and posed for photos. The time spent with fans, plus regularly thanking us for spending our money and watching him play ("it always blows my mind that people watch me play", he said, later adding "Missy Higgins is also playing tonight, you may have enough time to catch the end of her show") indicates how much he enjoys playing music and values his fans. He was absolutely lovely. He gave me a hug (I'm still quite sore and I appreciate him being very gentle) and asked whether I'm feeling better, and hoped the couch was ok for me. I thanked him for the interview, and apologised for the questions being potentially too personal - he said he didn't mind answering them for someone he knows.

Thank you for a wonderful show Bob/Kevin! Can't wait for more new songs.


  1. Thanks for this review Carly! It looks like we both had a similar experience of much of Kev's jokes. He's such a gentleman and ever so funny. We got the same joke about Power of Speech and the intimate "unplugged" Don't You Think It's Time. :') It's a shame about the technical issues though... but you did get a listening to Turn! No one wanted to play the harmonica at the Sydney show so it wasn't played, oh well!

    It was hilarious hearing Ode to My Car as well, we got an infinite amount of laughs from the audience, and he also mentioned the girl metaphor... "no, it's just about a car."

    Glad to hear you got a seat! And word, Thelma was terrifically amazing. I check out a lot of Triple J artists but never came across her. She bears similarity to Phebe Starr but dare I say, Thelma is probably better.

    Thanks for the lovely post! I haven't yet had a chance to write a full account on my blog of the evening I had, but chances are it'll be pretty similar to yours! :)

    1. The show was so great! And I'm glad that though the jokes may be similar, they never sound rehearsed. The technical hitches just made for a funnier and extended show - great to see he can make up a song on the spot! Though sad there will never be a repeat of it! He said that has never happened at a show - he's never had a fire alarm go off! I think he sang that "someone was smoking a cigarette where they weren't supposed to, I hope it was not Thelma Plum or that could be embarrassing"!
      Such fun :)

  2. Oh wow, that sounds like a great night. I just love Kevin. One of these days I hope to get to a gig of his.

    1. Hey Kattie thanks for reading and for your comment :)
      He'll probably be touring with his new album next year so keep an eye out! The new songs are great!

  3. Great to see you made it to the show! And yes, you need to spend more time listening to Thelma and Triple J, we love her stuff, can't wait for the EP too. Love your pix, hope you're feeling well today xx


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