The McClymonts are one of the most popular acts in Australian country music, and for longtime fans like me the reasons why are many, and consistent, but they can be distilled to this: they excel in the studio and on stage. This year they started their live appearances with an acoustic show at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, where they played the biggest room in town, the TRECC, and filled the space with their incredible harmonies. And hearing those harmonies was a powerful motivation for creating the show in the first place and now continuing in the same vein with their One Acoustic Night tour, with dates below:
15 November Mulgrave, VIC Village Green Hotel
16 November Wonthaggi, VIC Workmens Club
29 November Dubbo, NSW Dubbo RSL Memorial Club
30 November Wentworthville, NSW Wenty Leagues Club
6 December Young, NSW Young Services Club
7 December Bargo, NSW Bargo Sports Club
‘We have a lot of people say it’s nice to be able to hear the harmonies,’ says lead singer and eldest McClymont, Brooke. ‘Sometimes in smaller settings the band can be loud … Everyone’s been loving it and, you know, we are a harmony group, so a lot of people love to come and just hear the harmonies. Every night we have people say, “It’s so lovely to be able to hear the lyrics and to hear you girls sing the way I imagine it would have been when you were rehearsing in the lounge room when you were kids.”‘
The set list isn’t comprised only of the ‘quieter’ songs from one of the band’s five albums – it includes songs that are usually loud, full-band experiences in their set.
‘It’s really cool to see how those up-tempo songs turn out acoustic,’ says Brooke. ‘They kind of come into a life of their own, which has been amazing. The majority of the time it’s meant to be. It’s how they want to turn out. You have to come to the show and see how they turn out live. They’re a little bit different but not too far from the recordings.’
Given the number of songs in the band’s catalogue, it’s not hard to imagine that there might be some lively discussion about which are included on a set list for a new show – but not so, says Brooke.
‘We three girls are on the same page when it comes to the songs we want to do live,’ she explains. ‘And also we usually know what the fans like. We talk to them after the shows about what they want to hear. So [choosing the songs] wasn’t too hard – there were probably just a couple of gaps in there where we said, “What about this one? What about that one?” We came to a happy medium, which was really good.’
The set does include a song from the band’s very first release, the self-titled EP, and Brooke says it is ‘nice to go back and reminisce and rewind to where it all began for us.’
And performing songs from across the years doesn’t require much of a stretch, either. ‘I know why we wrote this song and what was happening at that time,’ says Brooke. ‘I could go back to that place of why we had written it. That’s the beauty of music. It’s like our life’s work, you know, all the stages of life you go through, we’ve got it all on the recordings [laughs]. Early, mid twenties, that was Chaos and Bright Lights. We’ve shown what we’re going through throughout all the albums, which is pretty cool.’
Of their most recent album, Endless, Brooke says, ‘That’s one of my favourite albums and it’s the most current with where we’re at, at the moment. It has some great songs on it.’
Fans will be pleased to know, however, that the band are working on new music, even if, as Brooke says, ‘The next one’s going to be a hard one because we’re still in that happy phase, all of us. None of us have gone through any break-ups. We’re thinking, Argh, what are we going to write about? [laughs].’
But the band has indeed written new songs, which they’re recording at the moment and which will be released in May – although audiences on this current tour will hear a couple of songs as a preview.
The album won’t be Brooke’s only new release in 2020: as was announced on stage during the McClymonts’ recent Country2Country show in Sydney, she is pregnant and due at the end of January, which means the McClymonts’ show at Tamworth, as well as Brooke’s gig with husband Adam Eckersley, are taking place on the first weekend of the festival – ‘then I go home and just wait for the baby’. Not that she’ll be having much of a break from music: ‘we never get a day off, really. It’s always busy, busy, busy.’
Brooke’s working life is made busier by the success of her duo with Eckersley: they released a wonderful, acclaimed album and have played many shows around the country. ‘I’m in two headspaces all the time with all this,’ says Brooke. ‘It’s a juggle. Thank god my manager looks after both projects. Him and I try to work it out together.’ Thankfully, Brooke says she loves the fact that the music for each band is very different – ‘I never get bored’, she says, even though, ‘to keep them both going is a challenge, but it’s worth it at the end of the day.’ Worth it too for music lovers, as Adam and Brooke offer something rich and complimentary to the McClymonts’ extraordinary output.
For the rest of this year, it will be those wonderful McClymonts songs and harmonies that Brooke will be performing on the tour, which has already kicked off in their home town of Grafton, NSW. For those who have never seen the band live, it will be a great introduction to their sound; for diehard fans the show offers a different way of experiencing their favourite songs. For everyone it’s the chance to see three of Australia’s best country music artists – who all happen to be from the same family – making sure you have a great night out. And, while you’re at it, you can admire the inspirational powerhouse that is Brooke McClymont, songwriter, singer, guitarist and effervescent live performer.