The Waifs @ The Palais

The Palais is a beautiful venue, but it does feel strange eating Maltesers in reserved seats rather than swaying freely and spilling booze on strangers like you might at a regular gig. But the packed out fancy venue was a sign of how far The Waifs have come. From their humble roots in a remote Western Australian town, after two decades of solid touring and recording, the country folk band were here off the back of their seventh LP, Beautiful You.

The Waifs have long since entered the popular adult contemporary market, but still remain humble. As Vikki Thorn laughed during the show, “You know you’ve made it when your band’s name is next to Bert Bacharach’s.”

Opening support was the husky Mia Dyson. Her soul and rock ballads echoed around the theatre and evoked eye-closing from my neighbours. Dyson is a talented guitarist and the best moments were when she shared the stories behind her songs.

After a brief interval, The Waifs entered, eyes snapped open and applause filled the venue. The band were exciting to watch, with Thorn air-kicking and sister Donna Simpson shimmying. The classic single London Still evoked nostalgic goose-bumps, while Sun Dirt Water was sexy, soulful and showed they’re not just a simple folk band. With a beard of Ned Kelly thickness, Josh Cunningham sang The Highway Song, which speaks of being stuck on a highway with no help. The new track Beautiful You told the heart-wrenching and powerful tale of one of their friends turning zombie-like when becoming addicted to methamphetamines.

The Waifs are amazing storytellers, but their crowd banter conveyed their sweet personas, making you feel like one of their best mates despite the thousand-strong audience.

With a mix of old favourites and new songs displaying their iconic mixture of violin, cello, banjo and harmonica, The Waifs played a two-hour set with two encores. The second encore got everyone standing up to dance to an extended jam session. The Waifs are crowd pleasers, one-of-a-kind and iconic.

BY SHANNON MCKEOGH

Loved: The two encores.
Hated: Sitting.
Drinking: Bottled water.

First published in Beat magazine