Richie Lewis, Australia’s favourite indie frontman of Tumbleweed fame, invited me along to capture his latest project – Richie and Friends, playing live in Sydney and Wollongong late last month, along with Front End Loader‘s Bow Campbell and The Too Easy Band as support. I was lucky enough to have caught them at The Music Lounge in August, so I was quick to accept the invite knowing I’d be very well entertained both onstage and off.
Richie and Friends has been a side project I believe for a little while now. Comprising Richie on lead vocals and guitar, Steve O’Brien on drums (Tumbleweed), the gorgeous Natalie de Silver on guitar and vocals (The Dandelion) and balancing the tall and bearded membership is Matt Houston on bass (Howlin’ Threads).
For those familiar with Tumbleweed, this show will certainly be a different experience for you. Although a full band, the set is a laid back affair, with the Tumbleweed ‘wall of sound’ swapped out for the gentle but confident sounds of Natalie on lead guitar and Richie perched on a stool rather than the headbanging and hair flicking we’re used to – Steve even plays a couple of tunes with brushes! This stripped back version means that Richie is free to interpret and perform some of the Tumbleweed catalogue that wouldn’t necessarily make it into a live set – such as their gorgeous new single, Patchouli Girl which the band refuse to play live. The single has been well received by fans with one particular admirer gifting some patchouli oil to Richie who proceeded to anoint us all (including punters) prior to taking to the stage at the Brass Monkey.
The set also includes songs from Hot Rollers, a project Richie had with Spiderbait’s KRAM as well as Richie and The Creeps and a couple of covers thrown in for good measure including a fantastic version of Confide in Me by Kylie Minogue. Most noteworthy though has to be the wonderful banter between the band members but especially Richie recounting stories about the inspiration behind the songs and some hilarious anecdotes along the way. Sharing lead vocals on a couple of tracks, Natalie de Silver does a beautiful rendition of Daddy Long Legs which she covered in her band The Dandelion and also takes the lead on Armchair Ride, making for a lovely contrast with the rest of the set led by Richie.
I can’t go past making special mention of Bow Campbell and the Too Easy Band. They were the perfect accompaniment as support, with the smooth tones of Bow on lead vocals, punters on both nights were well and truly warmed up by Bow and his four piece band. Driving blues backed up with a well played double bass and exceptionally well crafted songs.
Richie & Friends will be performing at La La La’s in Wollongong for a special Christmas Extravaganza on 23 December with special guests, The Escarpment (featuring Jamie Cleaves from Tumbleweed), The Bon Bons (Lax Charisma from Richie & The Creeps) as well as a surprise set by the mysterious The Blob. After a little break, they’ll be back performing in Sydney at The Gasoline Pony in Marrickville with the wonderful Bow Campbell and the Too Easy Band on 28 January, before heading into the studio to record new material for Richie’s upcoming solo album. Richie is keeping well and truly busy and has also been working on a play for the Newcastle Fringe Festival being held in March with bandmate Matt Houston, directed by Helen Hopcroft – so keep an eye out for that one too as it’s bound to sell out.
Christmas Extravaganza La La La’s Wollongong 23 December
The Gasoline Pony Marrickville 28 January
(keep an eye on socials for ticket links when available)
Strange Men – The Hum, Newcastle Fringe Festival 16-19 March