Fanny Lumsden would have been rightly disappointed when her latest album Fallow was released on the day it was announced that borders would be closed due to a pandemic. Over 12 months later she is going strong in spite of a lack of her usual touring opportunities, and Fallow has even exceeded expectations on its way to collecting the singer her first ARIA Award. Following this success Lumsden and her band headlined their first WA shows as part of the Country Halls tour.
Perth’s hardest working band The Little Lord Street Band showed their versatility by opening the show in duo mode. It was a format that was well suited to the seated venue as people lifted their eyes from their dinner plates to engage with the couple. James Rogers played slide guitar as Natasha Shanks’ rich voice lead them through the blues-tinged Setting Your Tale On Fire. There were songs about Shanks’ father (Could Have Been Someone), relationships going sour (Heartache Moon) and a shambolic new song (Time and Place) that showed its potential even with the misfire during the chorus. The obvious chemistry between Shanks and Rogers, as well as the melding of their well-suited voices makes The Little Lord Street Band an appealing proposition even without their rhythm section in tow.
It was clear from the outset that Fanny Lumsden is a seasoned performer who knows how to deliver a live show that caters for most. The hand painted backdrop and art adorning the stage set the scene and the band arrived in red one piece boilermaker outfits, while Lumsden herself was in a pink safari suit. Elastic Waistband and Peed In The Pool were upbeat numbers that showed off Lumsden’s knack for telling tales of small towns and everyday lives. The “trick” of throwing in a well known cover early so as to not lose the crowd is a staple of rural shows, but the addition of a country flavoured Boys Of Summer fell flat on account of it being a rubbish tune to begin with.
Lumsden’s anecdotal observations of small town Australia are littered through her songs whether she be reminiscing about stealing lollies from the local pool during Land Of Gold, or championing the plight of women who work the land during Fierce, she is a skilled storyteller. The singer and her band unplugged their instruments and moved amongst the crowd for an acoustic take of Soapbox that showcased a tight set of harmonies that only come about when your husband and brother are in your band.
Lumsden is able to shift from conversations about the Blue Tree Project and her song Real Men Don’t Cry to telling tales about a day spent on the set of Play School and their children’s song Teddy Bear Twist with ease. Sibling Tom Lumsden stole the show with his sweetly toned backing vocals and exaggerated dance moves as he took the lead on doing the teddy bear twist, leading the crowd through the dance sequence for Dig and hit the high notes on Kylie’s Can’t Get You Out Of My Head.
Coupling a honky-tonk tune with the mention of Chiko Rolls is the type of Australiana that sets Lumsden apart from her peers, yet she is just as accomplished when playing it straight, as she did during the encore of These Days. With a show that has been crafted throughout country halls over many years, Fanny Lumsden left no stone unturned to guarantee that everyone attending could have a great night out. Fanny Lumsden and her band The Prawn Stars are an underrated treasure.
Photos by Linda Dunjey