Thirsty Merc still a magnet for the good times with popular live show

Thirsty Merc: Band members Matt Smith, Phil Stack and Rai Thistlethwayte have an extensive tour through March 2020.
Thirsty Merc: Band members Matt Smith, Phil Stack and Rai Thistlethwayte have an extensive tour through March 2020.

Surf, sand and bikinis.

That's what you see in the official video for In The Summertime, a song that appeared on Thirsty Merc's debut self-titled album in 2004.

And then the first lines drop: I don't have a job, I never liked them, I just want to play in the sunshine...

If you want to find the road to endless fame in Australian popular music, that's a helluva good starting point.

Fifteen years later, Thirsty Merc is rolling along, playing festival bills with the likes of Jimmy Barnes and selling out pub shows from Hobart to Perth and lots of points in between, like the Tacking Point Tavern in Port Macquarie, the Blue Cattle Dog Hotel in St Clair, The Regal Hotel in Meredith, and the Broken Hill Musicians Club.

On Saturday the band returns to the Shoal Bay Country Club in Port Stephens. They played the first gig at the then newly-renovated grand old hotel in March 2018. "It was insane, a great turnout, a huge response," says Rai Thistlethwayte, the band's front man.

 A first: The band's live album was released in October, supported by a national tour through March 2020.

A first: The band's live album was released in October, supported by a national tour through March 2020.

"It's classic summer touring," Thistlethwayte says of the current run. Fifteen years after that breakthrough first album, which also included Someday Someday, Thistlethwayte says it never gets old.

"I don't worry about stuff," he says. "It's all about getting stuff arranged - flights, accommodation. Making sure we're getting all the gear, logistically sorting it out.

"There's no time worry about anything.

"The fun bit is playing the show."

The current tour, on the back of the release of a live album, recorded at The Gasometer Hotel in Collingwood in Melbourne, kicked off at the SSA Club in Albury.

"The live album a good cross section of parts of all our albums," Thistlethwayte says. It includes She's All I Got, Mousetrap Heart, In the Summertime, 20 Good Reasons,Tommy and Krista, Someday Someday and Build a Bridge among its 15 tracks.

But the tour isn't just about the album.

"We always throw in some new stuff," Thistlethwayte says. "We even play out old stuff we haven't tried for 15 years, just to keep it interesting."

Thirsty Merc shows have a strong rusted-on following, but there's also an "inspiring and quite surprising" contingent of 18-to-25-year-olds, Thistlethwayte says.

He guesses the younger set is drawn by "viral" recommendations on social media and Bondi Rescue's use of In The Summertime.

At the end of the day, it's about the music. Searing rock. Anthems of life. Build a Bridge. Emancipate Myself. The Good Life.

Thistlethwayte explains their popularity thus: "We write melodic songs with real themes, that are relatable, presented in lyrically honest fashion."

What's a good show?

"We don't think about much more than people go away feeling they've had a great night. Got away from a week of work. It's part of that musical communication, the soundtrack of my life."

Thirsty Merc plays Shoal Bay Country Club on Saturday, December 7, and Lizotte's on Thursday, Dec 12.

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This story Thirsty Merc national tour fuels summertime desires first appeared on Newcastle Herald.