Pseudo Echo

The Abbey. 16 Sep 2012

As I lined up to get my wrist stamp for the Pseudo Echo gig on Saturday night, a little boy wearing some sort of tribute outfit excitedly scampered up to the door with his dad, who proudly proclaimed his son to be a massive fan of ‘The Echo’ – this band may have had their hey-day in the eighties, but it’s obvious their music lives on in the heart of many.

The start of the show prompted a mass of people to evacuate their seats and run up to the stage for a dance, giving the intimate surrounds of The Abbey a distinctly John Hughes prom scene ambience. I got the feeling that Pseudo Echo had a special significance to many of the people in attendance, of the ‘I used to listen to them on cassette or record in my bedroom during my teenage years’ type.

Like a John Hughes film, the vibe of this particular evening represented everything that was good about eighties culture, with the good-natured, unself-conscious audience brimming with enthusiasm and having the absolute time of their lives.

Equally spirited was the band themselves who, despite presenting a little more casually than their dramatic aesthetic of yesterday, absolutely ignited the place: Brian Canham on lead vocals and guitar, Ben Grayson on synthesiser, Darren Danielson on drums and Simon Rayner on bass-synth. Though many years have passed since the days of Funkytown, these guys made all their old hits sound as fresh and full of energy as the day they first hit Australia’s airwaves.

A veteran of the music industry, Canham looked relaxed and charismatic as ever on stage, hamming it up in a tongue-in-cheek rock star fashion, engaging in friendly banter with his enamoured devotees between the steady stream of supercharged electro-pop.

Kicking off with Stranger in Me, it was obvious the band were as tight as a pair of stone wash skinny jeans, the sound emanating from the stage smooth and polished, but by no means lacking an edge. This was followed by In Their Time and Dancing until Midnight, but with some distinct favourites among the audience, it was the melodic Don’t Go that compelled onlookers to abandon their drinks and join the camaraderie by the stage.

Thrown in to the mix of classics were a few of Pseudo Echo’s new songs, and the first of them, Fighting the Tide, went down well with the crowd and slotted seamlessly into the set. Next was the pseudo-spooky His Eyes, A Beat for You, an extremely upbeat version of Walk Away and the oh-so-dreamy I Will Be You.

Lesson in Love No. 1 from their Teleporter album, Living in a Dream and Fast Cars all went down a treat, but it was the high-octane Destination Unknown that people went nuts for, creating a frenzy of revelry and gyrating among the throng (even Canham admitted Canberra was going off that night). 

The guys then pulled out their first ever single from 1984, the very catchy Listening, before launching into another one of their newbies, Suddenly Silently, which permeated a modern version of their trademark new wave sound and seemed to get the nod of approval from fans. However, the unmistakeable highlight of the evening was of course an electrifying, slightly free-form rendition of Funkytown; the finale that completely brought down the house, with Canham unabashedly going to town on his guitar.

As much as everyone would have liked the show to continue through the night, we were treated to just one encore, Love an Adventure, before the band retreated backstage for a well-earned rest.  Pseudo Echo still have incredible showmanship after all these years and showed Canberrans a bloody good time at a well-suited venue. I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say they’ll be welcome back to the capital, but I hope they don’t leave it so long between visits next time. Go The Echo!

Deborah Hawke