The Fly by Night Musicians Club is a not for profit community musicians club and music venue located in the heart of Fremantle, Western Australia.

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Ian Moss: Matchbook Tour | Live Review

The Fly’s new(ish) setting at Victoria Hall offered the ultimate backdrop for a night of gritty blues and soulful funk. Ian Moss is a big name in the Australian music industry and his Matchbook album tour brought him back to the heart of Fremantle for a catalogue of classic hits.

An almost sold-out crowd squeezed their way in to see the man behind one of the most iconic bands to emerge from our country’s music scene. Known best for his work with Cold Chisel; supporting Jimmy Barnes on vocals and playing guitar riffs, writing melodies and songs for the band, Ian Moss heated things up in a brilliant live music performance at The Fly Saturday night, presented by Starr Special Events.

Helen

First up though was Perth’s folk-pop songstress Helen Shanahan. Her wistful vocals were a contrast to what was about to come, as she delved straight into a collection of moody expressions and lyrics with Across the Sea. Giving punters a taste of her new album (set to be launched at The Fly May 5th backed by a full band), her most notable track from the evening was I Only Hide. With lyrics that delivered invaluable honesty and an organic songwriting style, Helen seemed her most comfortable when she really belted the songs out, showing off her sublime tone structure. Her set was finalised with Camouflage. 

Ian Moss gave fans a most powerful start. Kicking off with CCR’s Green River, his funky blues-style exploded on stage instantly, setting the crowd up for a fun night of nostalgia songs and newer numbers certain to impress. Fuelled by passion and energy – both of which continued throughout the set, ‘Mossy’ owned the moment on stage. He was quick to show off his intricate guitar skills which were finger licking good, complete with the almost-flawless guitar parts he energetically seduced listener’s ears with. Whilst the guitar sounded twangy in parts, it added a raw authentic feel to the set that complemented it. Combined with his bluesy vocals, Mossy was in his element from the get go – and the audience felt every bit of it.

Out of the Fire from his 1989 Matchbook album was a definite highlight and his insights into the song just as entertaining. Written and recorded in his home studio, Mossy questioned his decision initially; “oh fuck, do I really want to work at the place I live in!?”. But the constant battle paid off, with the end result being a well-constructed song that was written in under 10 minutes – something he agreed doesn’t happen very often at all.

Turning up the funk notch to a whole new level, Mossy eased into Mr Rain. On the flip side to the previous song, he admitted this baby took 10 years to finish. The ‘unfinished’ song eventually turned into a catchy masterpiece though, with the help of Sally Tiven writing the lyrics.

Ian Moss

Telephone Booth got a buzzing reaction from the crowd. Such a Beautiful Thing oozed as much funk and rock as the other tunes, leaving me surprised he went through the entire set without breaking a string. That Maton guitar was getting a serious workout! “There’s a lot of fucking verses in that one too” he said, after breathing a sigh of relief once the song ended.

Taking a break from the Matchbox album to include some Cold Chisel songs, Choir Girl made the list first. It was interesting to hear Mossy’s version of the song – he’s no Barnsey, but he doesn’t pretend to be. Instead, he added a unique touch to the tracks we know and love and pulled it off perfectly in his own brilliant way. The consistent crowd involvement was a refreshing change too, egging everyone to sing loud and groove along. Mossy did the song justice and if he hadn’t done so already, earned himself massive respect from the audience.

Bringing out the “rescued guitar” for a song he hadn’t played in a while, Mossy gave a detailed insight into the tragic story about machetes and injustice from the Dutch War years in Broome on the Pearl Lugger. Red Sea was moving, emotional and bittersweet beautiful. The song brought us back to Freo as he spoke of the men in the story who were hung at Fremantle jail, only minutes away from where the crowd clung onto Moss’ every word.

Other Cold Chisel classics Mossy added his own magic too were My Baby and Saturday Night, where he worked the crowd into a two-part harmony. Taking it back to the Matchbook days, Mossy finalised the set with Tucker’s Daughter which received a standing ovation from a good part of the audience. Fans were lapping it up and screamed for more as Mossy exited the stage. But all was not over yet.

Coming back for not one, two or three encores, Mossy returned to the stage with no intention to slow down. His ‘encores’ became an entire second set, much to the excitement of everyone. It was slower than his initial funky blues-inspired first half, with rolling ballads and soulful sways.

Ian Moss

Taking time to reminisce about the days he played at the Fly’s old venue and how fantastic it was to be back there again, in a newer, charismatic venue, Mossy introduced a snippet of his new album to share with fans. After listening to the final mixes that day, he played the latest number, Broadway. Although it wasn’t as as boogie-driven as the other songs from the evening, it offered a lighter, soulful flavour to it that was rhythmic and addictive.

When the War is Over was a more emotional version of Cold Chisel’s and Mossy’s interaction with fans was on point. A very bluesy cover of Georgia on my Mind heated things up again before his finale of encores which consisted of the ultimate Cold Chisel favourites; Cheap Wine and Flame Trees, before he finished (for real this time) with Bow River. 

All great musicians are storytellers in their own right. Whether he wrote them or not, Mossy nailed it by giving detailed insights into the songs that had weaved their way through his veins over the years. There was a purity about his performance that was rough, yet polished, casual but still maintained its own professionalism. As a solo performer, he held his ground; showcasing himself as an energetic and colourful artist who is real. Whilst some of his fellow peers from Chisel’s era are touring for the sake of money, it was refreshing to see Mossy doing it for the right reasons. And that in itself is enough to go see Ian Moss live.

Ian Moss

Written by Jayde Ferguson | Toward Music 

Photography | Rob Walker

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