Menubar Home

MUSIC: Live: Continental Cafe, Prahran

4 May 2001 - with Shane O'Mara, Rebecca Barnard, Bill McDonald & Peter Luscombe

When Love Comes Back To Haunt You
Some Prayers Are Answered
The Half Light
Skeleton Key
Melancholy Hour
Fell From A Great Height
Where Are You Going
Heart For Heart


She Set Fire To The House
Wishing Machine
Teardrops Will Fall Tonight
Taken By Surprise
You Put A Pain On My Heart
Atomic Electric (Rebecca)
Little Man (Rebecca)
Keep The Ball Rolling
New Cosmic Blues
The Big Room

In Deep (Rebecca)

Somebody's Always Pissing In The Swimming Pool
Your House Is Falling

On the 5th of May, 2000 I caught Stephen, Rebecca and Shane performing at the Continental Cafe. After two years overseas, it was good to catch a SC gig again and it was a wonderful introduction to the Conti. I think it was also the first time Stephen and I had actually met face to face.

Almost a year later, I was at the Continental again to see Stephen play. This time it was another very special show as it signified the last appearance by Stephen at the Continental. To mark the occasion, he was joined by Rebecca Barnard (vocals), Shane O'Mara (guitar), Bill McDonald (bass) and Peter Luscombe (drums) and together they did their best to bring the house down.

The first set was acoustic, featuring Stephen, Rebecca and Shane. There were few surprises in the setlist but having seen almost every SC gig over the last year, it took me about two songs to decide this was going to be one of his best. The only blip was Stephen losing his way in the second verse of "Melancholy Hour" but he soldiered on, commenting "so many songs, such a small memory". This was only the second time I'd heard "Skeleton Key" but it's already sticking in my head in a way few of the "Spiritual Bum" songs did (although I love that album).

After a short break, the second set commenced with the full band taking the stage. If anyone caught Stephen pacing the stage in front of the Casuals at the Dylan shows last show, this was a bit like that only bigger and louder. The new songs "Teardrops" and "You Put A Pain On My Heart" weren't tentatively offered but instead brashly asserted their places in the set alongside classics like "She Set Fire To The House" and "Keep The Ball Rolling". I'm guessing that Stephen instructed the band to "rock" because that's what they did. Everything was hard, tough and almost brittle, and if you want to call Stephen a great ballad singer, you've got to acknowledge that he's also a great rock singer. Everyone was tight, with Pete belting the hell out of his drums, Shane cutting loose at every opportunity and Bill hiding up the back keeping everything rumbling along.

Rebecca also got to farewell the venue with renditions of her own classic "Atomic Electric" (someone once told me Midnight Oil have even covered this live) and an expansive take on "Little Man". The crowd clearly enjoyed seeing this re-assembled version of Rebeccas Empire again.

At this stage the audience was fairly well pumped up but then the final songs lifted the atmosphere another couple of notches. We got a huge version of "The Big Room" and then when an encore was loudly demanded, they returned and Rebecca took lead vocals on "In Deep". Then it was time to get the place jumping for "Hell" with Stephen and Rebecca having a blast trading shouts of "Hell" as the song kicked into extended mode. The band again said their farewells and left the stage.

But that wasn't enough. The crowd (me included) demanded more. And so we got a second encore, catching the band off guard to the extent that they hadn't rehearsed anything else. They eventually settled for an acoustic-y version of "Everybody's Always Pissing In The Swimming Pool" and then had to figure out an uptempo song to finish with.

They tried Dylan's "Gotta Serve Somebody" but without the lyrics Stephen was hopelessly lost. The audience shouted out song titles, including "Stuck On Love" and a cheekily suggested "Gymnasium" (Rebecca laughed). They decided to try the Four Hours Sleep song "Satellite" but only made it to the first chorus before realising it was beyond them. Finally they decided to try "Your House Is Falling", which left Shane completely lost because he hadn't played it in a long time. Stephen didn't hesitate and while belting his way through the first verse, Shane watched his hands on his guitar to pick up the chords. By the time they hit the instrumental break, Shane had found his feet and launched into a blistering solo. I don't remember much beyond that, I was too busy jumping around enjoying myself.

And then, it was all over. The houselights came on, the purple curtain closed one last time and while the awful sense of loss remains, we can at least say they gave the beloved Conti an awesome farewell. Best SC gig ever? I'm not going to argue with that nomination.

review and photos by David Gilliver (site admin)

Shane's guitar pedals
601 x 329 (42kb)
Rebecca, Stephen and Shane
800 x 310 (22kb)
700 x 686 (48kb)
603 x 700 (26kb)
345 x 800 (47kb)
Rebecca, Stephen and Shane
799 x 426 (35kb)
Peter and Rebecca
523 x 600 (27kb)
534 x 700 (41kb)
Peter, Rebecca, Bill and Stephen
700 x 471 (35kb)
Bill and Stephen
700 x 602 (51kb)
562 x 600 (32kb)
Peter, Rebecca, Bill and Stephen
700 x 488 (47kb)
Peter, Rebecca, Bill, Stephen and Shane
800 x 368 (38kb)
500 x 378 (17kb)
Peter, Rebecca and Stephen
700 x 379 (24kb)
Rebecca and Stephen
700 x 517 (49kb)
Stephen and Shane
700 x 417 (34kb)
Rebecca, Bill and Stephen
800 x 600 (64kb)
597 x 700 (47kb)
Peter, Rebecca, Bill and Stephen
699 x 419 (45kb)
Stephen and Shane
700 x 517 (48kb)
the accidentally-resurrected Rebeccas Empire
601 x 428 (36kb)
Stephen and band
800 x 579 (64kb)

the Stephen Cummings site - email: feedback AT