Touring with Spike Milligan and opening for the likes of Harry Chapin, Frank Zappa, Sherbet, Cheech & Chong and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band is not the CV of your average musician, but then Glenn Cardier is not your average troubadour.
Without any doubt the most articulate and creatively insightful singer-songwriter in contemporary Australian music, Cardier has always done things on his own terms. He gave it his best shot throughout the ’70s, completely hung up his six-string for over twenty-five years before a ‘comeback’ in 2002 that has thus far spawned four outstanding albums…’ (Rattle The Cage, House Of Mirrors, Exiles From Eden and Stranger Than Fiction). (Trevor Leeden, Rhythms Magazine 2013)
‘Australian singer-songwriter Glenn Cardier’s enigmatic and compelling songs have enchanted audiences from London’s Marquee and Ronnie Scott’s Club, the Glasgow Apollo and Liverpool Empire, through to Sunbury and the Sydney Opera House’
In 1970, the former Queensland art teacher was talent-spotted by Festival Records after an appearance in a TV songwriting competition on Brian Henderson’s Bandstand. Glenn Cardier’s early folksy songs, performed solo on a nylon string guitar, displayed a highly individual style of songwriting as evidenced on his recently released limited edition double CD of unearthed treasures Old Haunts (The Lost Songs 1972 – 1979)
Cardier relocated to Sydney in 1971, recorded two albums for Festival and picked up the Australian Record Awards ‘Best New Talent’ The bespectacled, bowler-hatted singer-songwriter became a mainstay on the Sydney folk scene, performed at the first two Sunbury festivals and appeared on the ABC’s alternative rock program GTK.
Glenn’s restless spirit led him to the UK for four years, playing the folk clubs up and down the country, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny, and Roy Wood (Move, Wizzard). He cites these years as crucial to the development of his on-stage persona, the wry, dark humour and the punchy, distinctive guitar/vocal delivery. Dave Pegg from Fairport recorded his ‘Dance Numbers’, still a popular show – closer for the band.
In the 80’s, after touring extensively with old friend Spike Milligan and fronting the rocking Bel-Aires on the Sydney pub circuit, the ever-reclusive Cardier turned his back on performing for 25 years.
In 2002, prompted by a musician friend, Cardier dusted off the old ’56 Martin and played a string of Tuesday nights in Sydney’s Excelsior Hotel. Though he was largely unknown to the new audience, his style, wit and stage presence once again proved popular. ’It was like re-acquainting myself with an old friend’, he said. More importantly, a batch of new songs emerged.
Glenn recorded the CD Rattle The Cage in his downstairs home studio north of Sydney. He played most of the instruments himself, his intention being to gift the record to his friends and loved ones. ABC Radio somehow obtained a copy and Cardier picked up healthy airplay, particularly in Darwin NT. ‘I even considered using a band name for the record. I thought the old Glenn Cardier was long gone’ he said. Rattle attracted glowing reviews –
‘Rattle The Cage’ CD (2002) – ‘…his trademark combination of incisive observation and skewed wit is still intact here, wrapped in a blues-infused rock that shows off his seasoned voice. The years have made his voice gruffer and occasionally craggier but he hasn’t lost his knack of juggling a genuinely sensitive moment with one that raises a wry smile…’
House Of Mirrors (2004) followed – ‘…a national treasure…’ (Glenn A Baker) ‘…Cardier is our finest contemporary singer-songwriter BAR NONE…’ (Rhythms Magazine 2004)
Then Exiles From Eden (2008) – ‘ …Cardier can get gruff with the blues but hasn’t lost his silken acoustic touch. Four Stars!’ (Weekend Australian)
Glenn Cardier assembled the Sideshow in 2009. The band’s first gig was filmed and released on DVD. Live At Lizottes immediately aired on Fox. ‘…some of the finest songwriting this country has produced’ (Sydney Morning Herald)
In 2012, Glenn Cardier and the Sideshow recorded Stranger Than Fiction, a powerful collection of songs that was shortlisted for the Cooper’s Australian Music Prize that year, an extraordinary achievement for an independently produced album.
‘4 stars. Superb. Cardier deserves the respect afforded to Richard Thompson or Loudon Wainwright…’(Courier Mail 2013)
‘There’s no-one else on the Australian music scene quite like Glenn Cardier; from the finely chiselled storylines, and the razor sharp observations to the off- kilter delivery of his cryptic vignettes, he is a genuine one-off, a maverick, and you wouldn’t want it any other way.’
(Rhythms Magazine 2012)