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MEDIA: Reviews: Live '96

Toni Childs (support: Stephen Cummings)

30 November 1996, State Theatre, Sydney

review by Chris McMahon - from Beat Magazine, issue 531, 11 December 1996

Mr Cummings competently opened the night's proceedings with himself and another acoustic guitarist performing songs from his new album. Possibly a little under awed by the night, he was still passionate enough to draw the majority of the venue's attention.

As I indulged my lungs in the foyer between the acts, I had a chance to observe the vast stratosphere of Toni Childs fans - most walks of life were represented in age: from young kids, to the elderly and in dress sense: from flannos to formal evening wear. And happily no division was held between these parties in the atriums of the beautiful State Theatre.

Ms Childs opened her set with Womb and Welcome to the World from The Woman's Boat album; these songs received an adequate amount of applause; however, the atmosphere in the theatre that night was strange, indeed. Some punters in the front stalls crowded to the front of the stage, but most chose to remain seated. In one of Toni's more rockin' tunes I took a moment to look behind me at the rest of the theatre that was pretty much sitting in their seats rigidly still, but when the song finished the applause was incredibly enthusiastic, loud and long lasting - it must be a generational thing. The average audience member was at least ten years older than your average rock concert demographic and I am sure that everyone enjoyed the night from the clapping, but it must have been hard for Toni to really perform in front of such a stoic, unmoving collective face.

Perform she did though - with disarming honesty she chatted with the crowd between songs, and presented most of her very well known songs that showcase that voice. In concert Toni's voice is pitch perfect and loose with the energy of performing. Her voice is rougher around the edges (her later Melbourne concerts suffered from her vocal enthusiasm in Sydney) and the band present a much funkier version of the songs than the recorded versions, to my surprise and pleasure. Performing newer songs early on as well as hits like the truly lovely I've Got To Go Now she really hit high gear from the last song in the main body of the set - Don't Walk Away and in the encore with Zimbabwe, Angel's Talk and a song she claimed to have not performed for some time and had re-learnt to play on this tour (it was still perfect) Many Rivers to Cross that closed the night.

The band featured a percussionist of extreme vigour pounding and caressing the bongos and assorted instruments of rhythm, the keyboards were heavily featured with the guitars well down in the mix to highlight Toni's voice.

Whilst the night had some nondescript low points, the truly lovely lady rocked the chandeliered house.

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