A night of high margin music and merriment with Mr Ed

The Basement, Sydney
Thursday, May 21, 2004


It’s been a long while since we've enjoyed an evening with the master of back catalogue plundering, Mr Kuepper.  He's had his head down in Brisbane working away at all sorts of stuff, we’re told.  Eager anticipation then for a fresh incarnation and some new material.  Nope, those songs just keep coming back again and again, sometimes better, sometimes worse. 

Much as a die-hard fan loves it, sometimes you wonder whether it’s time Ed re-embarked on the front catalogue to stretch his legacy and demonstrate he can still do really new things.

The sound at the Basement gig was pretty bad.  Ed’s playing sounded like white noise a lot of the time, and while Alex Compton’s electronic drums were OK, the bass synth was all over the place.  Ed’s use of the guitar synth just doesn’t have the texture, definition and dynamic range of the real thing – so doesn’t do many of the songs justice.  
Ed's also got into a sort of 16 beat strumming pattern over a driving/droning drum/bass beat (like the original version of "Eternally Yours", if you can’t picture that).  With his predilection, when playing live, for extended, building intros in many instances it wasn't until he started singing that we worked out what song he was playing.

What’s New?  Ed’s looking fitter and happier than I've seen him for a while.  He even has a new song, though it's best described as something unintelligible to do with Woomera, with lyrics penned by the literary lioness of the Elizerati, Linda Jaivin.  At least she looked like she got a kick out of hearing it played live.  Ed admitted it was a work in progress; good.  What’s familiar and comfy?  The set list, Ed still does a great Thunderbird puppet guitar dance and the superlative maroon microfibre shirt has come out for another lap of the country.

What worked?  He was cheerful for a change, and funny as usual.  Also, a surprising, rollicking version of "Know Your Product", by what he described a couple of times on the night as “my favourite Australian band”.  Maybe he should try playing with them?  

What didn’t work?  Bad sound from the guitar, and the latest version of "Eternally Yours" is a shocker.  The Basement food was also up to its usual standard.

Despite the gripes, the gig was good – it’s always great to see Ed play live, and he’s been in the game too long not to deliver, but is there something missing? Looking at the Ed proposition over the last few years, you get a big taste of margin management, milking the dedicated fan base.  The same material gets re-worked endlessly, how many more old songs are there to re-master now he’s done his own catalogue, the Clowns and the Saints too? 

The guitar synth led, stripped down approach to touring and playing is a great margin generator too - less of those expensive instruments, pesky musicians and their weighty kit to cart around, but is the compromise worth it? 

Rainy Night
You Can't Please Everybody
Swing For The Crime
Woomera Wine
Fireman Joe
Little Fiddle
Horse Under Water
Car Headlights
Messin Pt 2
My Best Interests At Heart
All Of These Things
Know Your Product
Eternally Yours
Always The Woman Pays (solo)
La Di Doh