There aren’t many artists that would proudly call themselves low-brow entertainment. But then there is only one Tim Rogers. He is self-deprecating to the core and is such a witty artist. His concert almost feels like the comedy sideshow you have when you’re not having an actual music gig and I mean that with the utmost affection.
The support for the evening was from country gal, Catherine Britt. Her sultry vocals were on fire as she sang “I Want You Back” with an acoustic guitar and Bill Chambers (father of Kasey) on lap steel. Then it was time for a murder ballad as the lights were dimmed low for the broody, “Sally Bones”. With the shadows and disturbed lyrics coupled together it made for the perfect environment to go off and form a pact with the devil.
But there was no need to enlist the dark prince or his equally black arts because Britt is practically a veteran in the biz having recorded five albums throughout her career (and did we mention she’s only 27?) The title track, “Always Never Enough” was offered as one she hoped we’d enjoy because her ex doesn’t and although it had fine, warm guitar tones, she does go into detail about their break-up.
“Charleston Road” is Britt’s love letter to her childhood home or “The most Bogan song” she’d ever written. This was followed by a proverbial “Up yours” to her detractors with “Mind Your Own Business”, written in response to people picking on her past misdemeanours. It was the perfect foil before the duet, “Troubled Man” where Tim Rogers nonchalantly traipsed on-stage and offered the right-of-reply from the perspective of a poor bloke in a similar situation.
Rogers would stick around for the final two songs, one was a Dixie-fuelled Hank Williams tribute song the trio have been hard at work on in their group The Hillbilly Killers. The three musicians and Rogers’ band performed the final track and there was only a brief period between drinks before Timmy and Co (including Cameron Bruce (keys), Gus Agers (drums) and Shane O’Mara (guitars)) returned for their set proper.
Tim Rogers’ show is like the professional unprofessionalism The Rolling Stones seem to embody. In a crushed, white suit there were many moments in the evening where he seemed almost like Keith Richards. The haphazard nature of the set made for a strange yet memorable experience that was held together rather loosely by a metaphorical piece of black gaffer tape.
The set started off normally enough with a new song that shares its name with the Small Faces classic, “All Or Nothing”. Initially Rogers seemed rather subdued even though he still did manage to pull out some strange interpretive dance moves, because he was sans guitar. It was heartbreaking to hear him sing the especially sombre “Part Time Dads” who basically “Eat a lot of soup” and are not really needed. It was a palpable sadness and staring-at-the-bottom-of-the-whiskey-bottle type of moment but this picked up with the stirring flurry of noise that ignited “Jimmy’s Delicate Condition”.
At different moments Rogers would throw out little lyrical couplets before a song and this just added to the chaotic nature of things. “Go On Out, Get Back Home” meanwhile, was some bouncy pop and “Drivin’ At Night” was rocking even though the band saw Rogers only armed with just his gaffer-taped, acoustic guitar.
Rogers revealed he’d been recently asked to give a lecture to some 11 year olds at school to describe what he’d learned from his life’s experience. Apparently Uncle Timmy told the kids that if you’re an ugly child you’ll grow up to be interesting (read: swimming in dick and pussy) while the good-looking ones will be washed up and clueless at 42. He added: “Good looking people don’t know how to f**k…so let’s get ugly and f**k the rest of our lives!”
This excellent combination of wit, venom and alcohol meant plenty of amusing repartee or jokes peppering the proceedings- like dedicating a song to the drug and alcohol council and a waiter or random lines about Portuguese meat and the like. You really had to be there in the moment to appreciate all this but one absolute pearler was: “It’s lucky I play guitar otherwise no one would look at me. I look like an old boot”. Bruce added the helpful: “Or a weightlifter’s knee”.
Yet the weirdest exchange of the evening came via a jam that played like a drug haze straight from 1967. Rogers leapt into the mic à la Jim Morrison and sang about shamans, bakers and film school while the band played on like a crazy version of The Doors. They were even set up like the American legends with Messer Rogers front-and-centre playing the messy frontman.
The evening did feature some more music with new songs like the electric fuzz and rather Dave McCormack-titled “I Love You Just As You Are, Now Change” sitting well alongside old favourites like “Goldfield Blues”, “You’ve Been So Good To Me So Far” and the You Am I classic, “I Left My Heart All Over The Place”. Rogers was mesmerising to watch in his full-animated glory. It was hard to take your eyes off him because one minute he could be singing like a wide-eyed, angelic child and after these softer moments abated he could be spitting out his words like a bratty punk.
The set concluded with Rogers doing a sexy, Rod Stewart-like impersonation in “If Yer Askin’, I’m Dancin’” where he was joined by Britt who entered the stage in the same non-descript way he’d done earlier. For the encore he, Britt and O’Mara played a stripped back, “Walking Past The Bars” with the former on his acoustic as the latter added little flourishes on the electric guitar. Rogers may have had some people scratching their heads at the new direction in his sound but it is still as fun and thoughtful as his old music, it’s just a little mellower at times.
Rogers and Britt took lead vocal duties while O’Mara played acoustic guitar for a sweet version of Bob Dylan’s “Boots Of Spanish Leather”. It was a tender moment for the couples in the room and perhaps because of this Rogers left us with some open and sentimental commentary. “I play in a rock band that saved my life. And I’m currently in a band that affirms life”. The guys then joined him back on-stage and they brought the house down with “Misty Mountain Hop”.
Only Tim Rogers could get away with closing his show with a Led Zeppelin number. But with Rogers you come to expect the unexpected because he keeps us all guessing with his musical tangents, banter and delivery, meaning it’s always fresh and great fun. In a two-hour period Timothy Adrian Rogers was the hilarious rock star-come-hobo, ardent music fan, guitar god, strange uncle and any other guise he decided to pick at any given moment, and he certainly doesn’t disappoint with any of these strange and hyper personalities.
Originally published on 1 September 2012 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/sydney/tim-rogers-catherine-britt-factory-theatre-31-08-12
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