A freelance writer and traveller who likes to explore the spiritual, literary and hidden gems of Adelaide and beyond.
Songs in the melancholy hour
Having heard little about Stephen Cummings post The Sports (apart from a Medibank Private commercial, which I dare not mention). I attended his most recent show with an open mind. Interviewing him a few days previous for Weekend Notes he sounded quite affable and keen to promote his new CD, Nothing to be frightened of. He played at the Wheatsheaf Hotel on September 11th.
The stage at the Wheatsheaf Hotel is set with a few old rugs and a few chairs and amps, in a room with walls of galvo. It has a retro feel with old mismatched tables and chairs. This large pub was packed on a Thursday night. A no pokies venue, it has a large open feel and relaxed vibe. Be warned Stephen Cummings peppers his performance with a collection of old jokes. Some of them hit the mark, but perhaps because of his wandering, quirky style, some don't. He relates 'I let my mind go wandering…' His style does wander, into past encounters, musical riffs and old acquaintances and songs.
He sits sometimes as with his face to the sun, while waiting for his musician colleague Shane O'Mara to finish tuning his guitar. Then he turns his attention to singing his laments. His back catalogue as a solo singer was a mystery to me. But what a find this turned out to be. I can't believe his music has eluded me this long. He led off the show with 'Love comes back to haunt me' from the album A new kind of blue.
A song of such beauty and it has to be said, lament. I was struck and awed by the words and sentiment. I was sitting with a few other long-time fans that knew all of his songs. They were astonished that I knew none of his back catalogue. They identified Stephen as always having a sad and blue feel to his songs. Other standouts to seep into my consciousness were 'Some prayers are answered' and 'Melancholy Hour'.
Despite telling me on the phone that he played the less obvious songs by the Sports he came out with their classic, 'Don't Throw Stones'. There were a few tracks from the new album, still fitting in with the lonely and soulful vibe. Towards the end of his second bracket of songs Stephen lost his way on a few songs and was annoyed with himself at doing so. He mumbled a few apologies and finished with another perfect song lament. I am now left to reach back into this fine catalogue from this singer, songwriter and craftsman.