Welcome to my parlour
Deborah Conway has been an iconic name in Australian music since the 80s. Her band Do-Ré-Mi burst upon the scene with the single Man Overboard in 1985 bringing a sophisticated sound to what was at the time an overly disposable pop scene. That band didn’t really go the distance despite a truly unique sound and the pinup looks of the sultry-voiced Conway. Their music, however, remained memorable and seemed to become more significant as time went by.
The next time I saw Deborah was in 1991. She was giving an impressive vocal performance in Peter Greenaway’s movie Prospero’s Books, followed that same year by a wonderful album of pure pop (String of Pearls).
But it was with the album, Summertown (2004) that Deborah and her life and musical partner Willy Zygier did something truly interesting. They began to play people’s homes. I’m not sure if this is a phenomenon that began overseas but at the time I’d never heard the like (here in Melbourne, it reputedly began with musician Matt Walters who eventually created a website to bring punters and musicians together).
For a reasonable fee, you could get the famous duo to play in your living room (or backyard) and invite the neighbours over for the gig – come – party.
Conway and Zyger used this gimmick to promote their album to great effect. And other bands followed suit. Now, I love music as I’m sure is obvious by the content I post. And to me, this was just the most wonderful idea I’d ever heard (I recently saw an online competition with the prize being a living room gig by U2).
Soon after hearing about this fascinating new approach to live music I actually caught Deborah and Willy at a more traditional venue, the Northcote Social Club (At the time – though sadly no longer – the closest thing to seeing a band in the living room you could get in Melbourne) The show was exactly what I’d hoped and at the end of the gig, there was Deborah herself selling and signing copies of the album.
I said, “I really didn’t expect to see you doing this.”
And she quite sensibly replied, “why not? Someone has to do it.”
All of this had me thinking about how overblown the music INDUSTRY has become in most people’s eyes. After all, these are just people like you and I doing what they love. Why can’t it all be as intimate as a Livingroom gig or a chat with a fan after the show?