The following review by Bertis Gambon appeared in On The Street, 27th June 1995. On The Street ( is a weekly free Sydney music paper. Transcribed without prior permission by David Patterson (

Robert Forster - Phaat Chalice, Sydney, Saturday 24th June 1995.

Robert Forster once said something along the line that all his songs are in fact stories based on conversations overheard in buses, and it's an interesting point to keep in mind when considering his work. With a song-style combining the domestic observation of someone like Ray Davies crossed with a bit of Dylanesque neuralgia, what sets him apart from his influences is an obsessive focus that is at times so personal it's embarrassing. Kind of Morrissey with a wider lens.

It's a characteristic evident in a line from "The Circle" (a track off "Calling From A Country Phone"). Concerning that "time of evening when old friends turn to each other..." it illustrates well the idea that, where Morrissey and Dylan tend toward a private world of individual revelation, Forster is defined by his ear for the conversational. Consider the beautiful "Dive For Your Memory" off "Sixteen Lovers Lane".

Such a trait also marks him as a performer. For it is his acute sense of audience/performer relation - his sense of being watched - that informs his stage presence, and which made tonight's show so compelling. Every reaction, every misplaced chord and wince, gave rise to its own passing drama.

Such an old-school claim on out attention cuts little beef with a musical generation where the required image denies the "God-head" as it were. Indeed, his stormy exit halfway through the final song seemed so incongruous I couldn't sleep for blushing afterwards.

Always the showman however, Forster was soon coerced back onstage to finish a rather delicate version of "Clouds". And, at any rate, this little event (brought on by someone who'd rudely walked onto the stage mid-song) proved a memorable end to a fine night.

Playing one show only and not touring with any product, Forster offered a number of nice readings of old songs and gave warning of a new album besides to be recorded in England at the end of the year. Starting off with "Danger In The Past", the concentrated on his solo work for the most part, while the Go-Betweens tunes ("Love Is A Sign" among them) were drawn from the later period. The exception, though, was "Rock & Roll Friend" which, along with "Baby Stones", was one of the night's highlights.

Solo acoustic mode made for some interesting re-interpretation, a bit of altered phrasing, and what have you, while the three new songs he played tonight, "Crying Love" in particular, show the familiar wit to be as sharp as ever, with a maturing melodic sense definitely in evidence.

On the strength of these songs alone. not to mention the delicate nature of the performance tonight, Robert Forster is still very much among the living - all of which should make the new album a must-hear.