Lots of love for Waifs at Capitol | REVIEW

LOVE-IN: Siblings Donna Simpson, left, and Vikki Thorn, with Josh Cunningham, form the core of The Waifs, my newest favourite band.
LOVE-IN: Siblings Donna Simpson, left, and Vikki Thorn, with Josh Cunningham, form the core of The Waifs, my newest favourite band.

IT WAS pretty much a love-in at the Capitol Theatre on Tuesday night as fans of The Waifs turned out in droves to hear their favourite band in action.

As an entertainment writer it's tough to admit, but until Tuesday night, I was a Waifs virgin; I'd never seen them perform live, so this was me venturing into unknown territory.

Their opening act, the vibrant and vivacious Ruby Boots (aka Bex Chilcott from WA), was a breath of fresh, country air for this cowgirl.

GREAT START: WA-born Ruby Boots, left, was the perfect entree to The Waifs at the Capitol Theatre, Tamworth on Tuesday night.

GREAT START: WA-born Ruby Boots, left, was the perfect entree to The Waifs at the Capitol Theatre, Tamworth on Tuesday night.

Accompanied by the very talented Ben Franz on pedal steel and beautiful Belle Harvey on double bass, singing the most divine harmonies, Ruby sassed her way through a set of cool country originals, with just the right amount of twang. She sang a selection of songs from Solitude, her album released last year on the Lost Highway label, including Ruby Blue, Slow Burning and the WAMI-award-winning Wrap Me In A Fever.

Following interval, where I rushed out and bought a copy of Solitude, there was a stirring from the audience as their favourites took the stage.

The love-in feeling was a mutual thing.

The Waifs clearly enjoy being in Tamworth and loved performing at the Capitol to the faithful.

Having the luxury of days off to spend wandering the op shops of the Country Music Capital was a handy bonus.

They played old and new songs, from their 1996 self-titled debut disc through to their latest release, Beautiful You.

Donna Simpson, who wrote the title track, told the audience it was one of the hardest songs she'd ever written, as it was for a very close friend.

She dedicated it to the families of those "caught up in the hurricane of the ice (methamphetamine) epidemic".

The beautiful London Still stirred the Capitol chorus line as the whole audience joined Donna in song.

Josh Cunningham kept his guitar tech on his toes all night, switching instruments often, slipping easily between banjo, slide, acoustic and electric guitars.

Then there were the killer songs he'd written, such as Born To Love and Dark Highway.

Behind him on stage, there was a fair bit of switching going on too, with Ben Franz leaving the steel behind for upright double bass, electric bass and acoustic guitar, depending on the song.

Ben's co-conspirator in the engine room, Dave Ross Macdonald, masterfully maintained the beat throughout the almost two-hour, value-for-money concert.

Donna's sister, Vikki Thorn, would have been a shoe-in to win the harmonica championships had they been held in Tamworth this year.

Holy cow, could that girl play that thing! Now based in the American state of Utah, the Aussie singer-songwriter hasn't lost her accent or her passion for her home country, evidenced with 6000 Miles, one of the tracks from Beautiful You.

The fun banter between the sisters and their longtime performing partner Josh made it a most enjoyable evening.

They weren't allowed to leave the stage after their last song. A standing ovation ensured they returned for another two or three to satisfy the throng.

With sellouts on both nights (Tuesday and last night), it's a fair bet The Waifs will be back. I hope so anyway.

I might have been a virgin when I walked into the theatre, but I walked out a wanton Waifs-trel!