Words By Tracey Moyle.
Inspired by his Friday afternoon Double J radio show Liquid Lunch, Tim Rogers bought his musings about music, friends, poetry and a love of general conversation to life at Brisbane Powerhouse in Brisbane with Liquid Nights In Bohemia Heights.
In such a unique way he has combined music and the stage to create a mythical radio station in a fictional town Bohemia Heights, creating a fourth wall effect carried through ‘radio’ interviews with some of his closest friends.
Walking into The Powerhouse Theatre it was immediately evident tonight’s show would be something as rare and engaging as Rogers himself.
The front section rows of chairs were gone and large round tables with black cloths and dim lamps crowded the floor with chairs placed to face the stage in a jazz club manner. The lights were moody on the stage set up to imply and old time radio room with sound booth and special effects, the presenters desk to the right and music stands to the left. We took our regular theatre seating at the back. The show begins with a fictional cricket game being played in Bohemia Heights and Rogers providing updates. The ambiance is surreal with an old-world feel but the humour is relevant.
He was joined on stage by Tony Award nominated sound designer Russell Goldsmith, with his Foley sound effects and constant trivial updates on Jack Foley himself. Broadcasting legend Jonnie Von Goes provides the booming radio voice over and Melbourne queens of indie-noir Kelly Day and Jane Hendry otherwise known as Broads joined the stage with their acoustic guitars and melodically haunting vocals to provide the musical interludes and a song here and there.
The stage was set for this one-of-a-kind show and the audience although not knowing what to expect recognised it would be something as unique as Rogers himself. There were fabricated local business call outs and community announcements laced in humour – a cat is missing. Old Sid the cat has been missing a while. Rogers pulling out his guitar for a quick little song, breaking into the Daryl Braithwaite 70’s classic Old Sid.
The support music, sound effects and voice-over provided sponsored breaks from Pimms with Rogers surmising the broken Pimms machine was keeping the numbers down at the fictional cricket match currently being played in Bohemia Heights. The humour in the news flash and traffic reports provided playful banter and Rogers introduced the hauntingly beautiful harmonies of Broads. Their mesmerizingly ethereal sound ringing out with a hypnotic effect singing, Last Night When We Were Young.
More cricket updates followed and banter by Rogers on life, with a beautifully caring voice from the heavens booming – “Sweetheart…..” with messages for Rogers from who knows where. Is it a ghostly encounter? Is it the voices in his head?
More beautiful melodies from Broads followed by a poem read by the silken vocal chords of Von Goes – “ I Don’t Want to Grow Up” with Rogers sharing his thoughts on never growing up.
A little more banter then the first guest is announced. A very large audience welcome for Phil Jamieson. The Grinspoon frontman and long time friend of Rogers performed Comeback and Better off Alone. Just Jamieson and his guitar with his stellar vocals, created a special moment for every fan in the room.
A radio style interview followed with the friends reminiscing about the fun they had over their many years, the changes and challenges time brings and lessons learned over time. The adoration between these two mates was heart warming. They spoke of their friendship, Jamieson’s infectious lively personality, family and turning 40.
Following more radio banter Brisbane’s own Patience Hodgson (The Grates) arrived to talk to Rogers about growing up in Brisbane, her love of bedazzling, roller blading and saving guinea pigs. They touched on anxiety, how parenting has made her more mindful and reminisced on the old days. Her story telling was light and heart warming and it seems Rogers has surrounded himself with some beautiful souls in his musical lifetime.
Again more community announcements and the voice, possibly his conscience appears again from no where… “Sweetheart…..”.
Intermission for 15 minutes and the show returned with more radio banter followed by next guest, Brisbane born journalist and author Trent Dalton. They spoke about his life and the balance between truth and fiction in his award-winning novel ‘Boy Swallows Universe’. Dalton’s tales of his childhood were captivating, told with honesty and acceptance of a less than perfect upbringing. He spoke of his desire to live life his own way and his adoration for his family and the grounding effect parenting has on him. More on the topic of anxiety and being away from his family when working but told the tale of how when ironing his shirts in a lonely hotel room he finds his happiness taking on the persona of Tim Rogers singing You Am I‘s Heavy Heart, making life seem less lonely. Another inspiring guest and good friend of Rogers.
Next we were treated to an old school radio drama “The Shadow” presented as on old time radio serial with all on stage support participating in this crime solving mystery.
More offbeat entertainment from Bohemia Heights community radio.
The final guest of the night was Pub Choir queen Astrid Jorgensen. Her story of discovering the power of music in high school, realizing she could sing, making friends and her ingrained need for alone time. Her passion behind the popular Pub Choir concept is simple; to “let people know they can make music whether they can sing perfectly or not” and “through music they can make friends.”
She points out that although no one is perfect,” working together at something makes us all great.” Her bright positive attitude toward what she does and her honesty about fear of performing was enlightening. Rogers tells of his own struggle with stage fright. Jorgensen believes she is a master at the ‘art of doing nothing’ and although like so many of us, feels she lacks social skills she is defiantly a master at organising thousands for a mass sing along at any Pub Choir. Rogers appropriately quotes French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascale “ All of humanity’s problems stem from mans inability to sit quietly in a room alone”
Following Jorgenson we were treated to the beautifully soothing acoustics of Broads with their melancholic country style ballad Dear John. Their perfect harmonies have a hypnotic hold on the room.
The night was pleasantly humorous, full of jokes, innuendo and puns, wrapped up in theatrics, fictitious story telling, heart-warming real life tales, music, poetry and philosophical quotes and importantly friendship. With a last community notice that “Old Sid the cat had been found.”
Finally we had Dalton appear on stage, in pj’s with an ironing board, pressing a shirt singing Heavy Heart out loud. Bringing his heart-warming tale to life.
Liquid Nights in Bohemia Heights was definitely one of the more unique blends of music and theatre and banter I have seen. It was a fusion of imagination and reality, a voyage through the lives of many friends, an ode to how dearly Rogers friends hold him in their hearts and them in his. The honesty of dealing with life realities and the importance of embracing music, embracing true friendships and family were the messages that came out strong to me. But despite what message people took from the night they left happy.
Liquid Nights in Bohemia Heights continues for two more nights. If you are lucky enough to get out to see it you will not be disappointed. Tim Rogers hosts Liquid Lunch on Double J Fridays from 2pm, repeated Saturday from 3pm and available anytime online
Saturday 10 August – Brisbane Powerhouse (with Patience Hodgson, Trent Dalton and Astrid Jorgensen)
Sunday 11 August – HOTA, Gold Coast (with Patience Hodgson, Trent Dalton and Astrid Jorgensen)