"The Duchess Of The Deep End"
The calling to music is strong in Adele Pickvance’s family. Grandfather Bill played violin in dance orchestras in the north of England. Adele’s father Bill was a working musician in the clubs of Manchester, playing the organ with a trio behind the vocalists passing through. Every Friday and Saturday was gig night.
Nothing changed when the family moved from Bury in Greater Manchester to Australia where the teenage Adele continued to play the violin. Then one day her father brought a bass guitar home.
“I was drawn to it,’’ Adele says. “It had four strings too, and I always loved playing the second violin part, providing that harmony and support to the lead. The bass does that too. And when we arrived in Australia dad was picking up duo work and you need two people for that.”
The world Adele knew was playing covers. “It sounds funny now but I didn’t know you could write your own songs, I thought that was something other people did. Dad was in the musicians’ union and that was how musicians still connected at that time. Through that I joined my first band. We only played one show but I was impressed. Wow, writing songs and playing them!”
The musical genes also passed down to brother David, a successful composer for radio and television. Brother Jonathan plays drums in bands.
The Brisbane music scene was a fertile place in the ’90s, and soon Adele was immersed in the city’s vibrant alt-folk scene, constantly playing gigs and honing her skills.
She began playing with Robert Forster and drummer Glenn Thompson, from Custard, as Forster worked on material for his 1996 solo album Warm Nights. She played in the short-lived but superb Far Out Corporation with Ian Haug from Powderfinger and Forster’s co-writing partner from The Go-Betweens, Grant McLennan. A self-titled album was released in 1998. The songs were great and so was the bass playing from a woman who had taken the long way around to find her way into the rock world.
She then moved to Melbourne to record and tour with The Dave Graney Show.
When Forster and McLennan formed the second incarnation of The Go-Betweens, Pickvance played on The Friends of Rachel Worth, released in 2000. Thompson joined on drums for Bright Yellow, Bright Orange and the band toured the world. The band’s final album, Oceans Apart, was a five-star classic that won the ARIA Award for best adult contemporary album.
After Grant McLennan’s death in 2006, Adele played on Forster’s album The Evangelist, which contained the last songs McLennan had written. It marked the end of a era that taught Adele so much about music and the creative life.
Adele has also worked with artists including Clare Moore, Billy Miller of The Ferrets and Scott Spark.
In 2012 Adele and Glenn released the album Carrington Street, picked up by the German label Glitterhouse Records, reviewed glowingly in Europe and at home. In 2016 she released her first solo collection, the My White RabbitEP, but there was a question still unanswered. Could she write songs and lead a band too?
In 2018 Adele formed Adele and the Chandeliers, with guitarist Scott Mercer and drummer Ash Shanahan.
She’s still the "Duchess of the Deep End", as Grant said in his succinct review. Now with the Chandeliers, it’s Adele’s time to shine.
The band’s debut song, German on My Mind, was released in November 2019.
“I learnt so much from all the great people I’ve worked with, right back to that trio, Warm Nights, with Glenn and Robert,” Adele says. “When I look back in my diary, we were rehearsing two or three times a week, working on a single song for hours and hours, really nailing that groove".
“After all these years of playing this is the first time I’ve had to be a leader, organise the practice, book the studio, look for the shows, present the songs to the band, be the person up front singing the songs. It’s something I’ve had to learn but when you find the right people to play with, everything else seems to flow.”