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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Iain Shed­den spin­doc@

PRESS con­fer­ences can be dull af­fairs; the big­ger the star, the more con­trolled the en­vi­ron­ment can be­come. So it was pleas­ing and re­fresh­ing to hear and see Barry Gibb hold­ing court in a Syd­ney ho­tel this week and keep­ing the me­dia throng en­ter­tained for a full half-hour (gen­er­ous by press call stan­dards). Flanked by his gui­tarist son Steve and singer and niece Sami, both of whom are in his band, the former Bee Gee was happy to an­swer any ques­tions that came his way at the launch of his first Aus­tralian solo tour, which be­gan in Syd­ney last night. He even gave the au­di­ence a taste of that dis­tinc­tive falsetto, while re­veal­ing that his voice had im­proved since he gave up smok­ing 12 years ago. ‘‘My voice can do things that I was never able to do be­fore,’’ he said. Steve Gibb, heav­ily built, heav­ily tat­tooed and whose mu­si­cal tastes are more Metallica than main­stream, re­vealed that grow­ing up with a dad who wore white flares and penned disco clas­sics hadn’t had an ad­verse af­fect on their re­la­tion­ship. ‘‘I al­ways thought my dad was the coolest guy,’’ he said. ‘‘For me, I looked up to him in­cred­i­bly. I thought ev­ery­body got up in the morn­ing and wrote songs. Then when I went to school I re­alised I was kind of unique. Some kids didn’t get it, or some kids didn’t want to get it. The truth is I was al­ways proud of him. I al­ways thought he was far too hum­ble.’’ Hav­ing a fa­mous dad had many ben­e­fits. Such as ‘‘when you’re a four or five-year-old and you’re into KISS, and you’re dad says, ‘Do you want me to take you to see KISS?’ — and he lit­er­ally takes to you to see KISS, and they take their make-up off and you go, ‘What do you mean? They’re not from space?’ That was mind­blow­ing for me. It was at that point I re­alised it was all show busi­ness.’’ WHILE we’re on the topic of show busi­ness, let’s have a lit­tle Q & A about Q the best mu­sic show the ABC has dur­ing prime time on Mon­day nights for most of the year. Ques­tion: Is it about time the pro­duc­ers of said show stopped try­ing so hard to tap into the card­car­ry­ing mu­sic fan de­mo­graphic by bring­ing on mu­si­cians to rub shoul­ders with point-scor­ing pol­lies? An­swer: Yes, to use a po­lit­i­cal catch­phrase, it’s time. This week it was the turn of Tim Levin­son, bet­ter known in pop and hip-hop cir­cles as Urth­boy, one of the hottest Aus­tralian tal­ents of late and a con­tender for this year’s Aus­tralian Mu­sic Prize. Levin­son, aside from be­ing a gifted song­writer and per­former, is also ar­tic­u­late and savvy and made a rea­son­able fist of join­ing the de­bate on is­sues such as La­bor’s strug­gle in the west­ern sub­urbs of Syd­ney. ‘‘I felt like a kelpie hang­ing out with some grey­hounds and it all went so quickly I didn’t get to say half the things I’d thought I would,’’ he posted on Face­book. ‘‘I’d planned on throw­ing a few grenades in the convo but it wasn’t to be.’’ Nev­er­the­less he looked out of place and not ex­actly com­fort­able be­ing there. He was by no means Kate Miller-Hei­dke, who suf­fered death by a thou­sands cuts on the pro­gram last year, although to be fair she had to con­tend with a dis­cus­sion — about the bud­get — that she ad­mit­ted later she knew very lit­tle about. Maybe it’s time to tar­get an­other pro­fes­sion to join the pol­lies, aca­demics and ex­perts on the show. Or if they are go­ing to per­sist with musos, maybe they should get tal­ent that isn’t so po­lite and wouldn’t mind be­ing to­tally ob­nox­ious for the du­ra­tion. Then at least they would blend in with the pol­lies a lit­tle bet­ter. Ques­tion: Did fel­low pan­el­list Amanda Vanstone look per­plexed while Urth­boy was per­form­ing his song on Mon­day night? An­swer: Yes, she cer­tainly did.

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