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by Simon Reagan

'On an overcast Sunday afternoon, I sidle up to the bar at Castro’s and carefully select what I assume will be my only beer for the afternoon. I’ve come to see Australian alt-pop trio and sometimes-four-piece The Little Stevies, and while I’ve heard good things, I certainly don’t feel up for the long haul after a blurry Saturday night. Of the three sets they were due to play, I was up for one, perhaps two.

The band had left their drummer at home for this show – a wise move given

the size of the venue and the sound system. Stripped back to a three-piece,

with acoustic guitar, ukulele and bass, the young Aussie artists took the

stage looking relaxed and confident. ‘Hi, we’re The Little Stevies and we’re

here to play some tunes for you’. True enough.

As the first chord was struck and the first notes sung – in stunning

three-part harmony – it became clear that these were going to be no ordinary

tunes. Sibylla and Bethany Stephen have a vocal blend that can only be

achieved through genetics – the natural successors to

siblings-from-down-under like The Bee Gees or the Finns. Rounding off the

sound is Robin Geradts-Gill, whose airy tones slide seamlessly into the mix.

The first set begins quietly, immediately bringing the hubbub of the bar

down to practically nothing. Everyone, it seems – even those just there for

a drink – are transfixed.  As the set comes to an end, we are promised ‘a

more rock’n’roll second set’ – a prospect too intriguing to pass up. So it

was I came to be enjoying the second set – and second beer – with The Little


As promised, the tempo picks up the second time around. I’m impressed with

how rhythmic and full the sound is – I must admit to being a skeptic when it

comes to bass without drums. But Bethany’s distinctly beautiful

finger-picking acoustic guitar and Sibylla’s jangling uke parts – and

occasional shaker forays – are wrapped up perfectly by Robin’s melodic

basslines, and the result is rich and satisfying. The band never skip a

beat, and have no shortage of great songs, despite saying they didn't have

enough material for three sets. The occasional cover fills in the gaps – an

acoustic rendition of Michael Jackson’s ‘Black or White’, complete with rap

breakdown, brings the house down and ensures that I’ll be sticking around

for the third and final set.

Taking the stage again, it’s obvious that the band are enjoying themselves

as much as the brimming crowd. The Little Stevies are in no rush to begin

each song, indulging in plenty of witty and interactive banter. The crowd is

in high spirits, and it seems I'm probably not the only one onto my third

beer. A request from up the back leads the whole room into a round of

‘Waltzing Matilda’, followed by a complete cover of ‘Land Down Under’ which

they describe as ‘the best song about Australia ever written by a Scottish

guy’. By the end of their set no-one is keen to let the band go, and they

are cajoled into an encore of ‘Because I Have You All’ (from their new album

‘Attention Shoppers’), which is everything The Little Stevies do best –

soaring harmonies, a rousing chorus and uplifting sentiments.

My presence at the three-hour mark is testimony to The Little Stevies ability both as songwriters and performers, and my wait in the queue for a CD proves worthwhile when I finally get home and put it on the stereo – but that’s a whole other review. With stagecraft that belies their fresh faces, and songs and voices to boot, The Little Stevies have shot to the top of my must-see list, and I’ve already started figuring out when I can catch a set with drums before they head back to the Land of Oz. I’d recommend all music-lovers do the same!'

Simon Reagan


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