Tim Freedman’s Fireside Chat – Sydney Fringe Festival

Tim-Freedman. Image by Steve Baccon
Tim-Freedman. Image by Steve Baccon

Throughout Tim Freedman’s career, he’s had a fair few moments where his music has been thrown into the national spotlight, sometimes due to lucky coincidences and sometimes due to sheer artistic ingenuity. For example, the song Gough, from the Whitlams’ first album received extensive airplay on youth radio station Triple J, which was actually founded by Gough Whitlam himself.

Freedman concedes that “it would have to be a pretty bad song about Gough Whitlam to not get played on Triple J.” He also boasts spending only $42.20 on marketing for his band’s biggest hit, No Aphrodisiac, by making copies on tape, labeling them with only the song’s first lyric “a letter to you (on a cassette)” and dropping them in the letterboxes of every radio host in the ABC.

He’s a man with some great stories to tell, but you kind of wish in this show he spent even more time talking about his career and opinions. Called ‘Tim Freedman’s Fireside Chat’, he really had the opportunity to go even further with the banter.

[pull_left]His material works perfectly in an intimate solo show[/pull_left]There’s something very matter-of-fact about the way Freedman carries himself. He’s got a voice that’s completely free of any embellishment, simply telling the stories he’s written into his songs. He’s not a massively poetic songwriter, preferring to just tell touching, powerful and important stories in a fairly literal fashion. Strangely, it’s this quality that made Freedman an unlikely rockstar, and makes his material work perfectly in an intimate solo show.

Blue Beat should have been the perfect venue, but a decision by management to admit a bunch of people in the middle of a night out halfway through the set and serve them shots was seriously distracting. You have to expect a little bit of audience chatter during a show in a cabaret style venue, but when people have paid around $40 a ticket, they have a right to be disappointed when they have loud and persistent conversations in their ears. Thankfully, once they left, things got back on track.

Hearing some of these songs that have entered the Australian psyche with just Freedman at the piano is a revelation. They take on a different, fresh life and it seems like you’re hearing them just moments after he’s finished writing. His songs are usually poppy, boppy and melodious with Freedman driving the music home on a beautiful Steinway. He’s a great piano player, even in the more intimate moments. It’s a slightly different style of performance to what we’re used to from Freedman and it’s not really the ‘fireside chat’ it’s billed as. But after beautiful performances of No Aphrodisiac, Blow Up The Pokies, Fall For You and Keep The Light On nobody could possibly complain.

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