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Rob Greaves

The DINGOES ~ Live at the Caravan Club (December 2012)

Rating: 5 votes, 5.00 average.

0 Not allowed! Not allowed!
Dingoes plural of din-go

A member of the top Australian music group who came into being in 1973

Australia’s premier ‘country-rock’ group, something of a ‘supergroup’ variously consisting of between 5 and 7 members

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Left to right - Chris, Ashley, Brod, John and Kerryn

On Sunday December 30th I was among a fortunate 300 plus people who came to the Caravan Club in Oakleigh, a south-eastern suburb of Melbourne.

This was the Penultimate show performed by the legendary Australian group, the Dingoes. With a show in the evening of Saturday the 29th, and the show in the afternoon of the 30th supposedly being the final show, at the last moment because of the demand for tickets, a 3rd and final show was arranged for the evening of the 30th.

If the first and last shows were anything like the show I witnessed then Melbourne was indeed fortunate to have witnessed the Dingoes at their best on three occasions over two days.

In a ’cut-down’ version of the group we had, what I believe to be, the essential unit that makes this group so good. Broderick Smith, Chris Stockely, Kerryn Tolhurst, John Bois and Ashley Davies made it look oh so easy as they rocked us, rolled us, enticed us, caressed us and entertained us for almost two hours in a retrospective of their best material.

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We were transported back to those halcyon days of the best of the Station Hotel, to those days when we expected, and the Dingoes would deliver, the very, very best of our own homegrown music.

It was simply amazing! First of all I have to comment on how relaxed the guys appeared to be. On one hand we should expect this after all they have played together under all sorts of conditions over many, many years. However, as those of us who have followed their adventures from those very early beginnings know, clashes in personalities and dare I say it, clashes in egos have had their effect on this group, sometimes to the detriment of the music.

On Sunday afternoon as we sat, stood and danced in the small, but appropriately intimate venue of the Caravan Club (held in the Oakleigh R.S.L Club), all that past was forgotten. These guys played their hearts out and it may very well have been a toss-up as too who was having the better time, the Dingoes or the audience.

Broderick was at his very best. It has been noted previously that Broderick’s voice would never have him accepted into La Scala! Who the hell would care? What he does have it a powerful, slightly gritty voice, which is so expressive and utterly suitable for the Dingoes famous style of music. It is 40 years next year since Brod started singing with the Dingoes, and his career goes way back before that Melbourne’s well known and loved Adderley Smith Blues Band. Yet I do not believe that there would have been one person in the Caravan Club who would not agree, that he sounded as good as ever, and, his famous sense of humour shone through entertaining not just us, but also his fellow band mates.

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The dual guitars of Kerryn Tolhurst and Chris Stockley are in themselves, sufficient reason to pay to see this group. They are so complimentary, both played electric guitar, with Kerryn also on Dobro and Chris on Mandolin and lay down a wonderful wall of sound that sometimes punched through, slapping you hard in the face – demanding attention with licks and solo’s that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. In my mind, the old argument of who is actually the lead-guitar’? or similar questions, is an utter nonsense.

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The group has a unique sound the demands both of these true guitar giants deliver. Does the left hand compete with the right? Or do they work in harmony to bring about form and energy that provides a wall of sound that Phil Spector would be envious of. It is the later! They deliver with an ease and brilliance that has come from both a degree of simply being born talented and, having honed those skills over many, many years.

Drum and Bass – two elements of any group that can be overlooked, yes are so utterly necessary for providing that rich bottom end to music, and providing a platform from which the guitarists and singer can launch into flight. If this combination is not right, then the very best musician in the world would struggle to provide a coherent piece of music. With the Dingoes there is, and in the case of this show, it was, never in doubt.

Full, thick, rich, consistent are words that come to mind. With Ashley Davies holding down a rock steady beat, sitting in a groove of consistency that allows the other Dingoes the freedom to skate at both high speed and at times with devastating skill, knowing all the time that they are being supported by a beat that will always allow them to return safely to ‘earth’, is a freedom that most musicians long for. Not an easy set of feet to fill with the passing of John Lee, but he did it and played as if he had been with the group from the beginning.

Hand in glove! This is an apt description of the relationship on stage between drummer Ashley Davies and the final member of the Dingoes – bass guitarist and vocalist, John Bois. John, who’s recently released book on the Dingoes, “The Dingoes Lament”, punched us hard but tenderly in the stomach with smooth bass lines that both filled the gaps and sonically complimented the playing of the other Dingoes. It has oft been said, that the only time you notice the bass player is when he is an awful bass player. This is a backhand compliment that is not deserved by John. I guess it means that the bass player sits in the background and puts the bass notes into the holes to fill the gaps and keep the music coherent!

John does no such thing! His rich style and innovative playing reminds me of the better bass players throughout history, whose styles both knit the music together, as well as forming their own unique textures that at times, can render the guitars redundant. Add his vocal abilities and it is no wonder that to contemplate the Dingoes with John, is to contemplate the end of the Dingoes.

And so we were transported back into time, yet at the same time it was not, more of the same. There is a maturity to the group and a maturity to the music that (probably a more mature audience now) really responded to. When The guys played "Way Out West", we sang the refrain, 'Living and a working on the land" with gusto and enthusiasm that comes about from an audience that not just really appreciated the music, but have been part of this long, long journey.

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The music spoke for itself, and over the next couple of days I will add audio, and eventually video to this review to supplement what mere words cannot adequately do. But it was important to get the review out to acknowledge what a unique moment in Australian live music was offered to those few who managed to obtain tickets to what is probably the very last performance by this brilliant group. Kerryn is quoted as saying that it is now over. No more shows. I believe him, but I also have a nagging feeling I have heard this phrase used many times by many groups before.

I for one hope with the fortieth year anniversary next year, that for one more time, the Dingoes will thrill and entertain us, that for one final time the Dingoes will HOWL – and we will howl back!

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The following are three video clips from this last show (well, penultimate show), and they remind us just how good on stage they are, and how good they play live.

I hope you enjoy them. [Be patient, they take a minute load!]

After these three clips, there 55minute video of the concert. This is on You Tube and thus loads faster.

Damascus Road

Way Out West

The Last Place I Wanna Be

The following is a link to the 55 minute video of the Sunday Concert.

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Updated 8th April 2013 at 08:17 PM by Mick Pacholli

Rob Greaves


  1. Mick Pacholli's Avatar
    Brilliant Rob! So sad I missed it, I'll pray for a 40th year gig!

    1 Not allowed! Not allowed!