Review: Thirsty Merc at Wests New Lambton

Rai Thistlethwayte

Thirsty Merc are celebrating a 10-year milestone with the release of their acoustic anniversary album (AAA) and a national tour. Newcastle Live went along to catch one of Australia’s most awarded bands at Wests New Lambton on Wednesday night. 


We walked in to a starlight room that was just under half full. Most people were sitting down with a few die hards milling around the stage to secure the best spots for when the band finally hit the stage.


As we made our way around the room to grab a spot we noticed The Voice contestant Simon Meli, the support act for the night having a quiet one on what would be his last show on the current thirsty Merc tour. From all accounts Simon’s performance showcased his obvious talents and was extremely entertaining for the early crowd. Once we settled in we also noticed other industry folk getting ready for a night of Aussie music. Glenn and Larelle from 2goodreasons were ready for Rai and the boys to hit the stage, Marissa Saroca who’s just returned home from the Philippines and is performing around town and Sharon Knight who was ready to kick up her heels and sing along.

Now down to business. I couldn’t write this review without saying that the start of the set was pretty average. The first three songs with the boys all on acoustic guitars just didn’t resonate for me. I couldn’t tell if the problem was the choice of songs, the room or if it was something to do with the mix and the audio production, because there were plenty of problems with both during the night.


But then things changed. The first thing that became obvious after the shaky start is that these guys can really play. Phil Stack seemed to be all over the fret board of his double bass whilst creating these atmospheric beds that Rai Thistlethwayte and Matt Smith were able paint over the top of. Rai in complete control of the jazzy licks he was pumping out of his Nord keyboard and Matt pulling sounds from both his electric and acoustic guitars that reminded familiar to the original but just different enough that the song was able to take you down a side street you’d not driven down before.



Highlights of the night included a brooding version of the 2007 hit, Hard Way, the crowd sing along to 20 Good Reasons and the encore of In the Summertime.


I couldn’t help feel that this show would have been so much better in a room like Lizottes or The Small Ballroom. All in all it though, it was a great night with a truly talented Aussie band that was let down a little by poor audio production and a room that just wasn’t able to capture the intimacy of an all acoustic performance.


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