Don Walker Nightfishing Tour at Tanks Arts Centre
After rocking to more than 7000 people at the Showground last year with Cold Chisel, one of Australia's foremost songwriters returns for an intimate show at Tanks, writes Jesse Kuch.
The title of one of Australia’s greatest songwriters doesn’t come easy – but after close to 40 years in the music industry, no one is arguing that Don Walker is just that.
As the key songwriter behind legendary rockers Cold Chisel, Don’s music is etched deep into our collective music psyche, from deliberate pop hits such as Choirgirl and Breakfast At Sweethearts, to stirring narratives on Australian life and culture, such as Khe Sanh, an unofficial anthem of restless youth and the Vietnam War.
Whether he’s rocking the big stage in front of thousands with Cold Chisel, or steering an intimate crowd through his more introspective solo works, one thing is for sure – this is a man who takes his craft seriously, an ambassador for musical integrity whose input into the past four decades of Australian music can’t be denied.
When Don hits the Tanks this weekend with his long-standing backing band Suave F---s in tow, this juxtaposition could not be more pronounced.
He will shift gears from performing in front of tens of thousands at Cold Chisel’s first tour of the UK in more than 30 years, playing at London’s Hard Rock Calling alongside Soundgarden, Iggy and The Stoogers and Bruce Springsteen, to the decidedly smaller but no less special setting of Tanks Arts Centre.
“It’s enormously enjoyable, completely different from Cold Chisel,” Don says.
“It’s a completely different world, a different set of songs, sound and emphasis in every way... With the solo albums and the Suave F---s band, I think it presents a very certain world view. It isn’t just a bunch of roots musicians doing a few blues songs. We think we are very integrated and present something no one else does.”
Don says to expect a retrospective collection of some of his best works, alongside a little bit of new material the band have been sitting on for a while.
“We’ve got more than enough recorded for another album and we’ve got a couple of songs to get recorded on the end of our Sydney dates,” Don says. “Hopefully that will be the last few songs, but we’ve said that before, too.”
No matter what form it takes, it’s clear the “song” is something Don knows well. He’s the first to admit he can pick out a diamond in the rough but admits a bit of mystery is always there and that unknown factor is what gives songs their own special life.
“With a song, I think I know a good idea when I see it,” he says.
“It can be a little germ (of an idea)– a song, after all, can be as small as 12 lines long. But at the same time, while it might only be a small slot window, it can give the illusion you’re looking into the slot window of the whole universe. If it’s gonna breathe and have a life of its own, it’s gotta be a little bit mysterious.”
Don says his support act this weekend – Canadian country and folk songwriter and guitarist Roy Payne – will also provide plenty for the crowd to sink their teeth into.
“I knew Roy through a couple of other people I’d been playing with and Roy played with. Back in 2006, when we were recording Cutting Back (Suave F----), guitarist Red suggested we get Roy in to play some baritone. I don’t think he wrote songs at that stage, but since then, he’s come together with a set of breathtaking songs. When he sings them, those songs live and breathe.”
>> Don Walker and The Suave F---s perform at Tanks Arts Centre on Saturday, supported by Roy Payne, from 7.30pm. Tickets are $35/$30, on sale at ticketlink.com.au or 1300 855 835.
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Suave: Don Walker and his band are in town this weekend.