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Tim Freedman takes risks, on stage and off, to connect with his audience.

There are singers who would rather be staked naked on an anthill than banter with the audience during a concert. Aimee Mann, for instance, once hired vaudeville performers to entertain her fans between songs to avoid it.

But for Tim Freedman, the lead singer of the Whitlams, who's about to embark on his third solo tour, the banter is half the fun.

''I think it's one of the best tools a performer has to create a connection with the audience,'' he says.

''In the past I told the story about the band through songs, and then the second time I talked about love and break-ups, and this time I've made it a bit harder on myself, by narrowing the focus of the anecdotes.''

One of his favourites is a tale of his ''ups and downs'' in the industry, particularly with radio station Triple J, which recently voted the Whitlams' Eternal Nightcap album No.17 on its hottest 100 list. ''There's something intrinsically funny about the [musical] politburo as run by groupies and bad comedians, which is what no one ever has the guts to say about Triple J,'' he says. ''That'll get me in trouble, that'll be good.''

Of course, the thing with encouraging audience participation is that the people might bite back - even if inadvertently. Take his performance, the night before we speak, at a club in Albury.


''People started writing requests on the back of TAB slips and putting them on the piano, which is good because [I was on a roll]. Someone requested Imagine, which threw me for a second. But I actually happen to know it at the moment, because I was teaching it to my daughter, so [it was OK].''

Freedman isn't sore about being asked to play someone else's song, though; if anything, the experience was the gift that keeps on giving.

''[Without] a different dialogue with the crowd every night, it can be really programmatic,'' he says.

''And that person [who requested Imagine] became the butt of the rest of the good hour's [banter].''

July 6
, 9.30pm, The Basement, 29 Reiby Place, Sydney, moshtix.com.au, 1300 438 849, $35-$89.90.