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It’s been five years since your last London show...

I booked this tour three times and pulled out because some things got heavy in Australia.

I can’t believe it’s been so long. I did seven days at Ronnie Scott’s and I should have kept coming over to build it all up, but life got in the way. I have a new album now to add to the old Whitlams’ stuff, so long-term expats will get both.

I’ll love the 30 per cent Brit accents at the merch desk.

What sort of show can we expect?

I’ll play songs from all seven albums and I’ll also tell some racy little showbiz vignettes about getting songs on the radio in Australia.

One of those involves stumbling into Gough [Whitlam, former Aussie PM after whom the band was named] and [his wife] Margaret’s 65th wedding anniversary with a radio programmer, which was the greatest luck of my lucky, lucky life.

Will your recent solo album Australian Idle be a focus, too?

Absolutely. The engineer of the album just got nominated for Engineer of the Year in the ARIAs [Australian Recording Industry Association Music Awards].

It’s between him and Gotye apparently, so I’ll see how the songs sound without a well-engineered soundscape – just me and the piano.

How about your Two Little Boys cover?

I was asked to do a version when Rolf [Harris] was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame a few years ago.

My version is so different to his that I hope it stands on its own. Rolf is a force of nature – I love him and everything he’s done.

How will the show compare to your recent seven nights with an orchestra at the Sydney Opera House?

The Union Chapel show will be just me on stage. The [Opera House] Concert Hall under the sails was 90 people [the Sydney Symphony Orchestra], some of whom had been playing their instruments since they were in the womb.

Composer Peter Sculthorpe’s arrangements were lavish and surprising and there was a grand piano in the dressing room.

I got to annoy all these classical musicians, and sit in the middle of that grandiose sound. It was like being hit in the head with a velvet hammer.

What are the benefits of taking to the stage as a solo performer?

There’s a better margin. Less and better wine. Better company. It’s all good.

Eternal Nightcap has also been voted the 17th best Australian album of all time – how does this recognition sit with your early aspirations as an artist?

No one dreams of such recognition, but luckily, life can surprise. I am indeed proud of the accolade, it means the songs moved people.

Triple J in Australia played so many songs from the album that it became a soundtrack to an era for many people.


Interview: The Whitlams' frontman Tim Freedman on his UK solo tour and new album, Australian Idle
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