Tracks

  1. Woman’s Gotta Have It
  2. As We Speak
  3. Georgia’s Song
  4. Token Angels
  5. I Don’t Wanna Be With Nobody But You
  6. State Of Mind
  7. I Didn’t Take Your Man
  8. ‘Til You Say You Love Me
  9. Walk Away
  10. Mama Can’t Do
  11. Friday’s Child
  12. Naming Names
  13. Going Back To My Roots
  14. Token Angel
  15. T K O
  16. As We Speak

Band

Mick King
Guitar
Paul Abrahams
Bass
Mark Meyer
Drums
Amanda Brown
Violin, oboe, acoustic guitar
Mark O’Connor
Keyboards

Crew

Jim Blackfoot
FOH sound
Davros
Monitors
Simon Smithers
FOH rigger
Adam Zak
Lights
Yan Jamieson, Adam Burbury
Stage
Pat Pickett
truck driver

The first show was at the Mudgee RSL (NSW) in April 1991, a year after her debut album Émigré went platinum and won her ARIA awards for best female singer and best newcomer (single).

Her hit singles included ‘Token Angels’ (inspired by a tragic school bus crash in Grafton,NSW), ‘Woman’s Gotta Have It’ and ‘Let’s Kiss (Like Angels Do)’.

It was one of the first shows her band did after just three weeks of rehearsals. Already they were red-hot, quickly adapting to Wendy’s mix of soulful ballads and funk-jazz slammers.

By the time of the second tape, recorded three years later at Bunnamah Estate in Margaret River (WA), she had international tours under her belt, and her stage confidence had soared.

The second album Lily, which reached #2 and certified triple platinum, yielded more hits as

‘The Day You Went Away’, ‘Friday’s Child’ and ‘If Only I Could’ and even led to her making her acting debut as a nightclub singer in the 1993 movie Flynn about actor Errol Flynn.

“It was a very prolific time for me, very creative and magical,” Wendy recalls that era. “But it was a bit nerve-wracking because I wasn’t prepared, as a human being and as a dreamer.

“I was used to being in the back line, singing backing vocals as my chosen profession, and it took me a long time to feel more relaxed out in front. So I was still figuring out who and what I was.

“But listening to it now, I seem to have had a strong idea of what I wanted to do musically and what I wanted to say.

“I do marvel at that young voice, I remember in those days thinking I wish I had more depth, age and soul in my voice. Now that I have that depth, age and soul, I’m thinking ‘wow, listen to that clear young high voice.”

Many of the band and crew are still with her today. Jim Blackfoot, her front-of-house and tour manager for five years – who recorded Wendy Matthews Live 1991/1994 – remembers how the singer ran her touring party as a family.

“She was absolutely lovely, she was like a mother hen, concerned about every single person in the tour party that they were OK.

“Onstage she has a great time. Off stage, she never complained. In fact she couldn’t get to sleep after a show, so she and guitarist Mick King would come into my room when I was doing the post-show finances and serenade me until 3 in the morning!”

Wendy Mathews and her songs celebrate being a free spirit and outsider and lover of nature. She’s been these all her life.

Born in Montreal, Canada, her art school parents split when she was 14. Two years later she left school and went busking across North America with friends.

At 18 she was in Los Angeles busking, making jewellery and working as a session singer.

She did backup vocals on Little River Band co-founder Glenn Shorrock’s solo album, and he invited her back to Australia to sing on tour.

She stayed, singing backup on albums by Jimmy Barnes, Richard Clapton, Tim Finn, Icehouse and Cher, and joining bands as The Models and The Rockmelons (where she first started working with Jim Blackfoot) and Peter Blakeley and The Resurrection.

In 1989 she was part of the supergroup Absent Friends, which included members of INXS and The Models, who had a Top 5 hit with ‘I Don’t Wanna Be With Nobody But You’ (which is also on the ARCA live tapes) before going solo.

The nature of her relationship with her audience came from her childhood idol Joni Mitchell.

The legendary fellow Canadian said in interviews it was important for her fans to see themselves, and not her, in her songs and that how they responded was uniquely theirs and made them understand themselves better.

“I’ve kept that quote with me for years,” admits Wendy. “If you think a song is totally about me, and if you don’t see yourself in its lyrics, you’ve missed the point entirely. It’s about us all.

“People come to my shows not to headbang or jump in the moshpit or drop acid, but they dance, and they form conga lines. And if they start crying, which often happens, then I’m so honoured because they’re cleansing and expressing their inner relationship with the song.

“As that old quote goes, some people will love you and some people will hate you, and nothing of it has anything to do with you. It’s entirely their own reference in life. That’s a beautiful thing, and I feel honoured to be a catalyst in that.”

She has lived for the past 20 years on a 10-acre spread on a mountain top outside Coffs Harbour on the NSW in a mud-brick house. Her only companion is her six month half border collie half kelpie Odo, whom she got after her long time border collie companion Bear moved into her next universe.

Wendy is bemused by how strangers she meets insist that she lives in a teepee, is vegetarian, abstains from alcohol and meditates every day. It isn’t the case but she doesn’t worry: “they project on to people they don’t know but have accessed through lyrics or photos.

Wendy is currently writing her next album, to release through her own Barking Bear record label.

Two people in her life intensified Wendy’s living her life according to her own rules.

One is her mother, another free spirit, a one time art student who taught special needs children and, now at age 89, conducts eight classes of yoga a week.

The other is late US modernistic painter Georgia O’Keeffe, who left her husband and New York City to live in the desert by herself in a once-abandoned hacienda in Abiquiú, painting the New Mexico landscape and animal skulls.

Wendy who still has a photo of O’Keeffe on her table for inspiration, and who made regular pilgrimages to her home and museum, wrote the song ‘Georgia’s Song’ which is also on the tapes.

“In the song I tried to convey her love of the desert and her single-mindedness (she had trouble being a wife in the city of New York, which I could relate to), her independence, her strengths, and how you can be different from the crowd and still be inspiring to many others.

“I live very remotely up in the mountains and I couldn’t care less what people think of me. I’ve taken aspects of her life and made them my own.”