The Capitol, Brisbane 31 Oct 1997

Doors opened to the venue at 8pm. I arrived around 9.30 and there was a young woman soloing on a guitar – not bad. Before she finished her performance, she told the audience that she had heard that it WAS Deborah Conway’s birthday that day, so we had better be nice to her. I had also thought that Deborah was born on Halloween, but I wasn’t sure of the fact. The soloist went off stage, followed by a delay of about 15 minutes. I was shocked when two bald women, and one who looked like Marilyn Manson appeared on stage. Had Deborah ditched Willy and co. for these rather alternative musos? No, it was another warm-up band, which played until about 10.45 pm, and was not bad.
Deborah finally came on at 11pm to thunderous applause. She was in that by now famous red-sequened dress, but had a guitar over her stomach so we could not yet see the dress’s main feature. She opened with the first three tracks from My Third Husband, then took off her guitar to reveal her protruding stomach to the audience – “Yes, I have had sex recently”, she announced. She then went on to play Alive and Brilliant and a few other old tracks, which recieved great support from the audience.
Deborah played several songs from My Third Husband, a few from Bitch Epic, a couple from String of Pearls and also the crowd favourite, Man Overboard. She returned in a sleeveless white dress for two encores, the second of which began with just herself and Willy.
On three occasions the audience tried to sing Happy Birthday, finally being successful on the third try. Deborah looked to Willy in amusement and said, “I can’t do it to these people, I can’t tell them it’s not really my birthday. Look, the Queen has a birthday that’s not really her birthday, so I declare this Deborah Conway’s Birthday”. The crowd cheered in delight.
Although Deborah was not as chatty with the audience as she has been in past gigs, she gave a stunning show, proving that even if she has developed a maternal instinct, she has in no way lost her performance instinct, and remains the queen of Australian pub rock.
Sarah Keenan

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