Live Review and Photos: Kip Moore + Randy Houser at Hordern Pavilion, Sydney – 16th March 2023

Review and photos by Peter Coates –

Hordern Pavilion, Sydney
16th March 2023

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Randy-Houser-SYD-1053-560x373.jpg

This was the second show of this CMC Rocks week of sideshows and festival, after Melbourne the night before, and a sold out crowd at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney had streamed in from the country and was ready to get down and party.

Randy Houser may be one of the undercard for CMC Rocks , but he has perhaps the best voice in country music, and from the first line of the Whistlin’ Dixie he is right on song, with a voice like honey smoked JD that hits the spot immediately.  After Boots On we get the monster hit of  How Country Feels, with some great guitar interplay and a massive crowd reaction.  Randy lets the super tight band let rip with a hoe-down middle eight that absolutely rocked, and there was lots of crowd singing in an extended back half of the song.

Randy often throws in a cover, and tonight we got a well-known Alan Jackson cover, Chattahoochee, which got everyone in the crowd singing along.  A nice rollicking classic with honky tonk piano throughout.  Randy provides a short interlude around Home mong The Gum Trees by John Williamson, a favourite of son Huckleberry, and regaled us with some Australian wife tales! 

A new song written through Covid, which is based on memories of family and reflections of the hectic life before the pandemic, when Randy recorded an album in the basement.  Note to Self is a gentle ballad with his amazing voice soaring in the prechorus.

Like a Cowboy is such a powerful song, and got all the mobile phones in the Hordern lit up!  Randy has really warmed up now, and his lead vocals are frankly ridiculous in all their gravelly baritone glory through the final refrain.

The backing band are super tight, and seem to be having a good time onstage, and way too soon we get a barnstorming version of Runnin’ Outta Moonlight to close the set, which is just a great country rock anthem with big crowd shoutalongs and the band showing their chops!

The crowd kept surging in from the heat outside until the lights went down, and they erupted in a roar as Kip Moore and his band took to the stage.  He opened up with Fire and Flame, and then Fire on Wheels before the first real favourite, Wild Ones, which is a cracker of a song that got the crowd pumping.  Kip has a big live sound, with keyboards and 2 lead guitarists as well as his own guitar, and sometimes you feel that he is not sure if he wants to be a country singer or a rock star – Plead the Fifth is more of a  90s pop rocker that brings Bryan Adams and Jon Bon Jovi to mind, and then the guitar driven rocker of Beer Money which adds a touch of Springsteen to the mix.  Guitar and keyboards come to the fore, and there are some call and response vocals with the crowd.  This rolled right into Red White Blue Jean American Dream which bounces along nicely and features some tasty lead guitar.

Gentle guitar and Kip’s best vocal performance so far was a feature of Magic, and then it was That’s Alright With Me.

She’s Mine Is another upbeat singalong west coast country rocker with some fine piano to close it out, and Midnight Slow Dance is not sure if it is pop or country but the band really lay into this one before and after the stripped back middle-section.  Maybe Kip is the JBJ of country music after all.

Just Another Girl sees Kip roaming the stage without guitar and features keyboards and piano, and then the band launches into the Aussie classic rocker of Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again which is delivered with real intensity, although I am not sure he understood or appreciated the Aussie chorus response that is traditional here!

That Was Us delivered with passion, before and acoustic solo spot with a Kip taking the lead and the band providing some great backing vocals into the epic Dirt Road. 

The Bull picks the pace up again with Kip leading the pack through this slightly Celtic tinged heavy ballad, and morphed seamlessly into Running For You, a slow burner with some glorious background vocals from the band and which builds up to the final chorus before Kip does some guitar work, and this rolls into Heart’s Desire that is sung in part with the crowd at full volume.

The guitars rip it up into Somethin’ ’bout A Truck which is the perfect cliched, tongue-in-cheek country rock number that sees the crowd go ever so slightly nuts!  There is a great slide guitar solo from one of the guys, and some more straight up rock guitar from the other.

Kip has the audience very much in the palms of his hands and runs through a couple more until the closer Last Shot, which brings a big night to an appropriate close.

Saturday night at CMC Rocks is going to be huge.