Icehouse is a band about to break through into the big time.
Having already conquered their native land and England, this pop-rock band
from down under claimed Salt Lake City Wednesday night in the middle of a
seven-week American tour.But in this case, audience approval was not necessarily an apt measure of their talent or performing skill, for it was given too easily.
The youthful Icehouse fans stayed on their feet throughout the show, dancing and swaying in the elegant aisles of Symphony Hall. They were just too easily pleased, screaming at mere notes, giving away instant adoration instead of making the band work for that kind of energy.
Of course, the band's timing isn't bad. They hit town in the same week their
single "Electric Blue" (co-written by Jon Oates) was named No. 1 by a local
Icehouse played 11/2 hours of strong, powerful, even songs, most with driving guitar riffs powered by hard-edged drumming. Selections from the band's five albums ranged from current hits, like "Crazy," "Electric Blue," and the encore "Man of Colours," to older songs like "Hey, Little Girl" and "No Promises."
Lead singer Iva Davies and his five mates seem to genuinely like performing. In a profession where pretension is an adornment as expected as a black leather jacket, these musicians fill the stage with their realness. They don't rely on gimmicks. They appear to be of the boy-next-door variety, enlarged just slightly larger than life.
Davies, a former professional oboist, has a powerful voice, and his vocals
carry the weight of Icehouse.
As a showman, however, Davies works a bit too hard. His motions and movements appear practiced, rather than spontaneous. But he flashed his appreciative smile frequently, whenever waves of screaming adulation made singing impossible.
Paul Wheeler's drums deserve particular mention. Wheeler appears to play with such intensity that, except for occasional showy flips of his drumsticks, he excludes the audience.
Simon Lloyd's saxaphone solos were often rushed, or swallowed by the rock
backup. But when allowed, like on "Hey Little Girl," Lloyd blew his horn withmournful richness. And it doesn't matter that Andy Qunta plays the keyboards so
well. His infectuous dancing shows more rhythm then the entire crew on
Stephen Morgan and Bob Kretschmer share guitar and microphone duties with
Davies. Kretschmer also helps with songwriting. And the trio's performing
interchanges added a needed flair to the concert.
Davies writes songs that display an intelligent, sassy wit. And the songs
were enriched in their concert renditions by thoughtful visuals, like the
celebration of Andrew Wyeth's paintings that inspired "Man of Colours," or
more simply, the starry-sky backdrop that anchored "No Promises."
A powerful song was "Great Southern Land," a song celebrating Australia's
200th birthday, about a country that walks "alone with the ghosts of time."
Men Without Hats opened the show, highlighted by their most popular song,