Rising above the routine reunion tour, currently the in thing, this comeback signals a whole new life for Australia's band of the 70s. It's also a shot in the arm for Aussie rock.
Little River Band's opening night performance at World Expo '88 was a stunning tribute to past achievements and a bellwether of future success. Special guest Glenn Frey (ex-Eagles) told the 20,000-strong audience he was honored playing with ''the best singing band in the world." The 100-minute offering from the lineup of old and more recent LRB members lent credibility to the emotional and broad claim.
It was as if time had stood still between the departure six years ago of founding member and lead singer Glenn Shorrock (which led to LRB's gradual demise) and the opener of this show the 1975 classic "Long Way There." Shorrock, with co-founders Graham Goble and Derek Pellicci, and later additions, Wayne Nelson and Steve Housden, produced mellifluous vocals accompanied by polished musicianship.
"Happy Anniversary," "Reminiscing" and "Home On A Monday" clearly had not dated; even those too young to remember "Help Is on Its Way" on the charts 11 years ago were singing along. For longtime LRB fans it was lump-in-the-throat stuff.
LRB purists may have missed Beeb Birtles' distinctive voice, or been amused by the presence of newest addition, keyboardist Jamie Paddle. He looked a generation younger than the other members. Elaborate string orchestrations of the past were replaced by his more synthesized sounds, which gave familiar songs a contemporary edge, while Housden's guitar licks were soft and seductive.
Offerings from new album "Monsoon" were true to the old LRB sound, with mellow ballads and up-tempo numbers gutsy and catchy. Shorrock's voice, so integral lo the LRB sound, gives the new songs personality.
LRB began in the U.S. supporting the Eagles and Glenn Frey gladly tripped Down Under to help relaunch the band internationally. He graced the stage for much of the show and gave a sizzling performance of "The Heat Is On" and a selection of abridged Eagles songs. Shorrock, Nelson and Goble backed him.
LRB, arguably Australia's top live band in its day, showed every sign of taking up where it left off. Future concerts could be even better witbout the constraints of Expo's curfew and tv telecast ad break schedules.
The show was full of memories and surprises, yet seemed only to scratch the surface of what LRB has to offer. Krug