Fremantle Arts Centre
Wednesday, March 9
As the Waifs closed their set with the chugging mayhem of Crazy Train, it reminded long-time fans why they've been fans for almost two decades.
Alongside a killer cover of Me and Bobby McGee, at the time this was one of the songs which alerted WA pub-goers in the 90s that something truly special was in the making.
Now instead of just a sisterly duo, there's singer, songwriter and guitarist Josh Cunningham and long-time band members Ben Franz on bass and David Ross Macdonald on drums. Together, on a cool autumn night, they reminded us about the art of being joy-filled players and heartfelt storytellers.
While their music is based in folk and roots, they can also rock, waltz and roll like a train. Stories of real life pepper the lyrics which are driven by acoustic guitars and signature harmonies.
The band's sixth album Temptation has just come out and while the crowd are yet to get really familiar with the songs, Buffalo came up beautifully and a little mournful as part of the set's slow and intense start.
The gospel-inspired songs written by Cunningham - the title track and Moses - didn't hit their mark as well as on the new album but it is early days.
The highlights were pretty easy to pick. They started with the band's hit, the melancholy London Still, written by older sister Donna Simpson and penned on her dad Jimmy's birthday a decade ago. Gig night also happened to be his birthday so Jimmy turned up on stage later so the crowd could sing him Happy Birthday.
A trio of songs from Up All Night continue to be among their finest moments - Fisherman's Daughter, Lighthouse and Highway One - as they speak to the band's history, a travelling life, killer harmonies and passion for crafting a great melody.
The much-loved favourite Gillian made an appearance, as did the sweet Take It In across a set nearly two hours long, which ended with a very pregnant Vikki Thorn blowing up a storm on her mouth harp at the rousing end of Crazy Train.
There's always plenty to make you smile and dance, and excellent company to be had when the Waifs come home.