The Waifs made their Hamer Hall show feel like a catch up between old friends

Josh Cunningham recalled with a laugh The Waifs first gig review, in which they were labelled as “Backyard Sunday afternoon barbeque music.” The crowd clapped as he continued to recite the critics words, which he remembered perhaps a bit too well. 
Celebrating their 25th anniversary, the members of The Waifs were proud to announce they’d been together longer than the average marriage. Their relationship with their audience seemed happier than most marriages. The crowd cheered and whistled with unadulterated glee throughout most of the two hour show, with many on the ground floor of Hamer Hall taking to the aisles to dance.
Cunningham’s bandmates, the founding sisters Vikki Thorn and Donna Simpson, are immensely talented, with the flawless harmonies between their sweet and gutturally emotional voices at times absolutely breathtaking. The vocal stylings of the pair are truly hard to match, though the enthusiasm of a huge, passionate, and adoring crowd came pretty close.
The first half of the show was dedicated to newer material, their album Ironbark dominating the setlist.  John Butler took to the stage as a welcome surprise guest to play Syria, before settling in for a few more songs. They told stories of meeting in Western Australia, and of the band visiting his home which at the time housed an indoor skateboard ramp – on which Cunningham knocked himself out.
“I learned about live music from these guys,” he proclaimed earnestly, before requesting Lest We Forget as their final track before he left the stage. The final arc of the show was dedicated to the singalongs, the loved favourites, and boy did the audience participate. Feeling Sentimental was a standout moment, with Cunningham – who makes all of his own guitars – pulling out a tiny little one to play, and their harmonies soaring all the way to the top of Hamer Hall, probably even to their hometown of WA.
As the final songs played to a room of clapping, cheering and dancing, it became clear how they’ve maintained their dedicated fanbase and place in the music scene for so long.  The energy was palpable, the happiness infectious, and the Australian icons finally bowed to a well deserved standing ovation.
Words by Claire Morley
Image by Lee Dot Photography
Highlight: Black Dirt Track made for one of the most emotional, personal, and beautiful moments in the night.
Lowlight: Dedicating a song to Cyclone Debbie. A slight misstep in words, most likely, but came across as a disingenuous moment.
Crowd Favourite: The personal connection and engagement between the band and the crowd. It felt like old friends catching up.