Linda Dunjey – the-waifs-kings-park-botanical-gardens-perth-7
Picture: Linda Dunjey. Full gallery

Review: The Waifs and Kasey Chambers at Kings Park, 3 February 2018

It was a balmy Saturday evening as thousands gathered in Perth’s Kings Park to celebrate a rich array of Aussie music talent. Four acts – some new, some comfortably familiar – shared a passion for story telling and good Aussie humour.

Fremantle singer-songwriter Stella Donnelly stole the hearts of the crowd with her quirky charisma. The 25 year-old opened the show saying “I’m trying not to s**t” myself.” It was the Triple J Unearthed Artist of the Year’s largest crowd to date, which also happened to be family-friendly (“sorry for all the swearing guys”). Donnelly appeared anything but nervous, her stage presence as confident as her raw and punchy lyrics.

No topic was off limits, singing about hate for her ex-boss, Tinder dates and Sportsbet. Donnelly tastefully balanced the light-hearted songs with her ‘Boys Will Be Boys’, addressing wrongful blame in sexual assault cases. The stunning set left no doubt this is a star on the rise.

The venue continued to fill as Israeli-born Australian singer Lior enchanted the crowd with his easy-listening melodies. The independent singer-songwriter knew he’d made it in music when he called the Virgin phone network, only to hear his own song as the hold music. While his sound wasn’t as vigorous as Donnelly’s, his warm presence was captivating and the crowd certainly wasn’t hanging up anytime soon.

On the back of Lior was a confident and comfortable Kasey Chambers. Well aware she wasn’t the only act on the line-up, she addressed crowd members who didn’t like her music: “Sorry, but an hour is a bloody long set.” Wearing her top inside-out and calling herself a dickhead, even those who didn’t like her sound appreciated her Aussie attitude.

Chambers fed off the crowd’s energy, giving them credit for belting out ‘Not Pretty Enough’ with gusto. Even she couldn’t tame them as they cheered her dad and guitarist Bill Chambers (whom she admits not paying in 40 years). She ended her set by dedicating ‘Barricades and Brickwalls’ to her roadie, Worm, who co-wrote the hit song.

The warm air was thick with anticipation as the sun set over the gardens and The Waifs took the stage. The Albany band recently celebrated their 25th anniversary of making music together and for anyone who’s ever witnessed the band’s on-stage chemistry, it’s easy to see why. “That’s 25 years longer than any of my marriages,” laughed vocalist Donna Simpson, who credits the band’s unwavering success to her unbreakable relationship with her sister Vikki Thorn.

The sisters sang with their bodies; Simpson swaying with her tambourine and Thorn twisting to her harmonica. It was as though the band were welcoming the crowd into a lounge room rehearsal, joking on stage and selecting songs spontaneously.

The crowd was visibly swept up in nostalgia, singing along to their of songs of road trips, fishing and WA’s quirks.

Punters eagerly accepted the challenge to sing ‘Bridal Train’ as loud as they could, the tune dedicated to war brides of the 1940s.

‘London Still’ earned the group mainstream success in the early 2000s, and there was still plenty of love for the track tonight.

Simpson told the story of visiting her millennial neighbours for a Triple J Hottest 100 party recently, describing their disbelief when she told them she had a number three entry back in 2002.

While younger crowd members may not have the same memories of The Waifs as their parents, they’ll no doubt share an appreciation for their honest Australian music.

Crafting beautiful songs about love, life and home for over 25 years, The Waifs will be a household favourite for years to come.

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