Fast becoming an annual tradition in the manner of his former band Weddings, Parties, Anything’s Christmas Shows at The Central Club in Richmond, the annual New Years Day show for Mick Thomas and the Roving Commission at the picturesque Archie’s Creek Hotel is a brilliant way to kick off 2024.
Similar to those old Central Club shows, Mick puts a lot of care into choosing support acts that lend the day a sense of event, rather than the usual headliner with a couple of bands on beforehand.
This year’s show had a strong geographical connection to the local region with country blues Americana Mistry Harlowe Band opening the show with her songs inspired by Gippsland’s Snowy River region including the stand-out “Old Omeo”.
Led by Jeremy Gronow (Helvelln) and Gina Hearnden (The Hollowmen) Blackbird FC perform a set of relaxed country pop-rock including songs inspired by the Cape Woolamai “Magiclands” and Phillip Island “Island of the Dogs”. Their 45 minute set also included a couple of great covers Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers “Stop Dragging My Heart Around” before finishing with Neil Young’s “Powderfinger”.
The current line-up of Mick Thomas’ Roving Commission is for my money the best band he has toured with. With erstwhile companions Mark “Squeezebox” Wally on piano accordion and Jen Anderson on violin, joined by Ben Franz on bass, Dave Foley on drums and “Pocket Rocket” Brooke Taylor on vocals and guitar.
Match fit after touring the country for the last few weeks on their Christmas tour, the band sounded great – with the show featuring some great new material from Mick’s most recent album ‘Where Only Memory Can Find You’ a rollicking “Rising Sun” and the sombre “Shoulder Arms”. Keeping the geographical connection alive it was great to hear Weddings, Parties, Anything deep-cut “Walkerville”.
Well regarded for his well selected covers, Mick didn’t disappoint today with Brooke Russel killing it on a zydeco run-through of Cold Chisel’s “Home and Broken Hearted” before closing the show with a heartfelt version of The Pogues “Fairytale of New York” in tribute to Shane MacGowan.