Festival / Gig REVIEWS
Morgan Bain and The Swoop
(Jake & The Cowboys/Go-Sets)
Mojo's, North Freo, 20th March 2015
Unfortunately I walked into Mojo’s as Jake and The Cowboys were already into their set. Uncharacteristically the set must started bang on time and parking can be challenging in North Freo. No excuses and a lesson learned.
I say unfortunately for into the second song I caught the easily accessibility of the rock-pop melodies and Gene Pitneyesque vocals caught your attention and sucked you into. With the friendly stage banter and presence of the band it’s easy to see why Warner are interested. Let’s hope the waiting is not for too long. Defiantly an act to watch out for.
Surprisingly as soon as they departed Morgan and The Swoop pounced to set up stage. YES !! Waiting time for the Man With The Plan was cut in half.
The set began with a funky bass and drum jam with Morgan (vox/keyboards/guitar/harmonica/sonic effects) and Teischa (keyboards/vocals/percussion) walling on and joining to get set opener “Somebody Else” under way and fully firing.
Next up “In the Middle” resonated with the guitar getting fuzzy and the rock/soul/funk grooves getting deeper and deeper. I think (Ha!) that it was on “I Think I’ve Got You” were Morgan put on a customised harmonica set-up I’ve never seen the like before. Sonic sounds to blow away the blues.
Morgan the Sound Master introduced the only song he and Teischa have written to date so far. Swapping vocal lines this was a winner.
As the fourteen song set flew by Morgan sang the praises of those that had paid to get in. I’m not sure if this was a dig at the plethora of photographers that were buzzing around the stage taking shots of an up & coming musical flying machine that are going places big time. (At this stage it’s worth noting Ausland181 are a self-funded mob).
Also in line for negative praise were the shit kickers from the past who pulled you down but now names are up in lights, and the buzz is buzzing, try to get on the train as baggage handlers. We got the message Morgan
As the next stop for the Train is opening act of the prestigious West Coast Blues ’n’ Roots keep an eye out for those shit kickers who reappear like Ghosts from the Past.
The crowd were feeling the funky blue vibes as a double bass was pulled out by the six string bass player virtuoso extraordinaire. The Swoop are an excellent musical unit. This was exemplified by a heavy blues number were Morgan and Teischa were swapping vocal/keyboard solo’s meanwhile The Boys at the Back were having their own deep rooted funk rhythm party.
Nearing the set end Morgan pulled out a song that’s in a song writing final. Its chorus line layered grooves shouts out WINNER !!
Morgan Bain and The Swoop are indeed a magical, live multi-layered, Hammond sound soul soaked, musical adventure and from the first lesson learned make sure you’re in front of the Main Stage at precisely 11:20m at the West Coast Blues ‘n’ Roots Festival, Sunday 29th March.
Closing act of the night Go-Set are a fun-time punk ‘n’ Gaelic rock band from “somewhere In Victoria”. Featuring bagpipes on a number of songs the boys ripped through an entertaining no nonsense pub band of the best kind.
Unfortunately there are no pics to accompany this piece as the lights at Mojo’s aren’t conducive to my current equipment. However the Rock Angel Tess may change all this if she hooks up with the Ausland181 crew as travelling photographer.
After tonight there is only one place to be Sunday, 29th March 2015 T 11:20am. Main Stage at West Coast Blues ‘n’ Roots Festival waiting to greet the Magical Musical Mega storm the are Morgan Bain and The Swoop !!.
Rag Doll / Legs Electric / Uriah Heep
The Astor Theatre, Perth, 24th March 2015
Local Perth outfit Ragdoll bounced into action, with a lightning fast energetic guitarist, hardworking drummer and bass with rugged rock vocals tying the sound up. The three piece’s 25 minute set was a non-stop attack, reminiscent of a swathe of late seventies NWOBHM hopefuls.
However their sound is more polished than most and reflects the tightness of a guitar (Leon) and drum (Cam) unit that’s been playing together for some five years. Leon definitely enjoyed the big stage and gave it a run for the money. Bass and vox (Ryan) unpins the sound like a railroad track for the rock train of Ragdoll to steam on.
Good enough to purchase a couple of CDs from the merch desk.
Following the changeover (more of which later) a slim figure wandered on and a fuzzy, fat Sabbath-esque bass started echoing out. The rumbling seemed to clear the air for Abby (bass) to be joined by drummer (Kylie), vox/tambourine (Ama) and lead guitar (Laura) walking on and linking into the groove.
With all but the drummer standing with their backs to the audience you could be forgiven for thinking Legs Electric were giving the audience the arse, but it only took one number for a show of ass to turn into a show of class.
Having first come across Legs Electric a couple of years ago their sound has progressed from a good time outfit ala Girlschool/The Runaways et al into a sophisticated musical maelstrom of lead breaks, drum flix and bass that integrates into a rock zone that fits the likes of Aerosmith.
This could be due to a combination a new bass player, manager and Ama grabbing the vocals by the throat and singing, or rather screaming, with much more confidence, tone and power than earlier years.
With a new EP CD to promote the girls were meaning business, with power house drumming driving the set through to the end.
Back to the merch desk to pick up Legs Electric’s debt recording!
During set change over’s, although I’m sure Ragdoll and Legs Electric would disagree, it was a delight to see both supports moving their respective gear, taking down and setting up. Paying their dues indeed but one wonders how much longer before they make their big breaks and can have the luxury of a crew to do their bidding. As both are local Perth bands it’s good to see that Perth musical talent is alive and kicking.
And so to the legendary Uriah Heep. Having only really been exposed to the eighties comeback albums “Abominog” and “Head First”, which received a pounding on a friends turntable, I can’t say I’ve been/am a diehard fan. Although not a sold out show there was not many empty seats in the balcony and the floor was comfortably full. For a Tuesday night in Perth I think that says a lot for the esteem the Heep are held in by the Faithful.
Into their fifth decade of musical mayhem they are held in the same reverence as their counterparts Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin by some.
By no means do they rest on their laurels having released on average an album every two years with the latest, “The Outsider” from last year being as relevant as classic’s such as “Demons and Wizards” and the afore mentioned “Abominog”.
Indeed playing five tracks off this latest release demonstrated they are having as much fun as ever.
Fun is a theme that vocalist Bernie Shaw likes to iterate and you can see they are having fun up there. Keyboardist Phil Lanzon conducting the crowd was a delight to see. I haven’t seen drums being hit so hard for a long time and the power house Russell Gilbrook unleashed muscle that resembled someone half his age. Bassist Davey Rimmer also performed outstandingly, with finger runs giving the tunes a hook and groove.
The dexterity of Mick Box is mind blowing, waving magic in the air, his solo’s cut and thrust giving classic’s such as “Easy Livin”, “Gypsy” and ”The Wizard” a new life.
Going into closing mode the crowd sing along “Stealin” was led by Bernie Shaw, to whom every night on stage “is a Saturday night”. He took time out to acknowledge the packed Astor for making the effort on a Tuesday night.
Asking if Uriah Heep are still relevant is akin to asking does it snow in Perth. Of course it doesn’t so why even ask in the first place! Good times and great music is a necessity to a good, good life.
It was, to use the words of Legs Electric, a night of “Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll”!!
The Capitol, Perth 27 March 2015
Have purchased “Microscopic Wars” a couple of weeks ago I was looking forward to catching the Melbourne outfit Kingswood in the raw.
However the night didn’t get off to a good start as the new photographer to the Ausland181 fold did a no show. Apologies for the quality of pix in advance.
Then arriving in at 9:15pm meant I had missed BOTH supports. Doubly disappointing as Kingswood vocals (Fergus Linacre) went on to give Tired Lion (Perth) and My Echo (Melbourne) both a good rap in a closing “Thanks”.
When Kingswood hit the stage, after a prolonged intro track, the BIG drum sound was the first thing that hit home. A big, solid sound that was driving and workman like without being extravagant was a feature of the set.
Kingswood have also added a rhythm guitar and sometime keyboards to the on-stage line-up so the sonic sound scape was also a bigger and fuller one. The use of keyboards, sometimes Fergus, sometimes the new addition on rhythm, also added to the driving, sometimes moody sound rather than flatten it. “Eye of the Storm” was a classic example of this.
The Capitol was near full to capacity as befits the recipient of the ARIA’s 2014 Best Rock Album.
While at times the influence of such acts as Powerfinger/Queens of the Stone Age is unmistakable on the album in the live environment Kingswood are indeed coming into their own, and creating their own trademark sound. The outstanding guitar work of Alex Laska is an example. At times his elongated solos were never tedious but attention-grabbing and with his style / sound of his own he is carving a niche for himself.
The set even included a “Tim & Linda” (?) proposal on stage moment. It seemed to go down with the crowd. Apparently Tim had got in touch with band and said he do anything to make it happen. The figure of $5000 was flippantly cast around on-stage. Ah Young Love.
The next song being “Sucker Punch”, not “Icftydlm”. As the latter’s line of “You don’t love me” not being the song that Tim & Linda would want to hear.
Some of the outstanding moments included “All Too Much”, the heart wrenching “Eye of the Storm”, “Micro Wars”, blues based “Ohio” and, what seemed to be, a more off-beat “Piece by Piece”.
The stop-start of “Tremor” seemed to produce an out-of-body experience for me watching the scene before unfolding, as though indeed being in the eye of a storm, no pun intended.
All in all a great rock act to catch live and as quoted by Fergus, Perth holds a place in their heart (for being the gig they played on the “Microscopic Wars” release day) be sure to catch them when they return to a venue near you.
Or did Fergus forget the Newport on Sunday 29th March? So if you’re not West Coast Bluesing make it a date.
Ausland181 Walks the Bon Scott Tribute Trail in Memory
John Butler Studio Launch, Fairbridge, WA, 10 April 15
The launch of a new state of the art recording studio in Western Australia was not just a very special musical event but became a knowledge sharing experience that was an enlightening and spiritually enriching experience for all.
The new recording work place, situated in the heart of Fairbridge Village, Pinjarra some 83km south of Perth, has been endorsed by the still-living musical legend John Butler. John Butler accepted the responsibility of having the studio named after himself not only for the quality of technology it possess but also for the spiritual representation that the new facility signifies.
I will leave others to talk at depth of the opening speech by Fairbridge WA Inc CEO Mark Anderson, that touched on the programs run by the charitable organisation. The work they do with young people who are at-risk, disadvantaged or living with a disability and their considerable success stories talked to the heart.
Likewise I shall only touch on the very moving Welcome To Country Ceremony led by Aboriginal elders Uncle Harry and Kuta. Kuta had the whole room transfixed as the assembled held on every word. Each spoken word hung in the air, as though suspended on the raw nerve endings that were being exposed to one and all. The emotional electrical storm was just beginning to build.
So with the opening platitudes done the first band onstage were Raksha, a six member band who won the 2014 Fairbridge Festival Quest competition. As the average band member age is seventeen this was an impressively gifted band who epitomise the artistic talent that the studio, and aforementioned community programs, are designed to cultivate.
The bands musical talents were displayed in the five number set in a number of techniques. Waterfall guitars dancing majestically with Mother Earth, rising vocals leading into an explosion of a jumping, pulsating, electric chord based rhythms, sing along chorus lines, creeping keyboards that insurrected into a revolution of reggae beat flower bursts.
It was as if we were witnessing their collective maturing before our eyes. This was personified by lead vocalist Amber Scate singing more powerfully on each number. Equally she gracefully shared the vocal duties around as the set progressed.
When asked for their reaction to opening for John Butler and Mam Kin as they walked off-stage? An emphatic “Awesome!!” was the reply.
The next act was Fairbridge Festival regular duo Grace Barbie and Jamie Sell. The rich depth that Grace’s vocals adds to Jamie’s guitar is astounding. The rough, raw slave language of the Seychelle Islands known as Creole is expressive and the journeys Grace and Jamie took the audience on ranged from palm tree filled beaches of blue seas under sun filled skies to crowded market jabbering’s of cheating husbands and wicked women.
Starting with the opening speech, then with the building of energy from both preceding acts the emotional static in the recording studio theater was edible when Mama Kin and John Butler walked onstage. It is not often you have the talents Mama Kin and John Butler on the same stage never mind to be performing as a duo.
This was a very rare musical treat that was about to be experienced by the special audience. The strength of Mama Kin’s soul filled vocals intertwining with John’s complex, energised, intricate and multifarious finger work belies any words that can be written.
Enough has been said about John Butlers musical talents in the past but not enough about the story it represents. On a very high level you have the ten year old who moved from Los Angles with British born father and United States mother to the WA country town of Pinjarra, the resulting quest for identify, his love of country and indigenous ways underpinned by the deep felt relationship with the local Canning family, his passion for spirit being free and at one in today’s fast paced, ever changing society, of living life respecting all, and others in the complicated landscape of justice, business and respect for Mother Earth and country.
John’s extraordinary and remarkable 12 string guitar was embellished and adorned by Mama Kin’s soulful and powerful blues infused vocals. At times thunderstorm torrents, at others seemingly flamenco influenced tempos weaving and embroidering stories of judgement (“Jenny”), being stripped raw (“My Bare Bones”), landing at a crossroads and making changes in life (“Coming Home”) and refocusing on the simple, most important things in life (“Losing You”). This was also the first time Mama Kin and John had aired these newly penned songs in the open so it was indeed an honor for the audience to be here.
There was also humor as John remarked he was unable to deny “his ego and play solo” when Mama Kin left stage for John to perform as one. He swapped the 12 string guitar for a banjo and “Better Than” was launched into. As you would expect this piece was exceptionally intricate. Also it very cleverly interwoven excerpts from the classic “Better Man” into it.
The last song was the very new blues based melody that was inspired by the fighting spirit of an indigenous dancing group from Pinjarra. Like a western showdown the sliding blues rocketed the audience into John Butlers complex stratosphere. And for a short, graceful and grateful time we sailed into another world.
Mama Kin, John Butler, and I’m sure all that attended this magical, musical event and now waiting for the new stories that will emerge. The new, prodigious and technically proficient John Butler Studio, Fairbridge Village that is a tool to help paint the tapestry of life is now well and truly open.
Adam Hall with the Soul Sessions Fidelity, opening night at The Fly by Night, Victoria Hall, Freemantle,
11 Apr 2015
Intermittent torrential downpours didn’t stop a sell out crowd attending the official opening of the Fly by Night’s new venue – the Victoria Hall.
While a smaller venue than the Military Hall, the Victoria Hall stood out amongst it’s surrounds with great mood lighting, a red carpeted entrance, welcoming volunteers and the bar snugly tucked around to the side.
‘Oh what a night’ as Frankie Valli sung many moons ago – an international line up of Adam Hall (Perth), Richard Jackson (USA), Alemay Fernandex (Singapore) and Macshane (Perth) had much of the audience dancing in the aisles throughout the two sets with a crazy good mix of sultry blues, soul, motown and rap.
Alemay Fernandex commanded the stage with her powerful blues sound, complimenting her husband Richard Jackson as they belted out a number of classics from Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye.
Adam Hall’s trumpet solo’s were sublime, however this guest reviewer found some of his Michael Jackson renditions cringe worthy....why, why so many Michael Jackson covers when this talented line up could have had the audience in raptures with more blues, soul and motown renditions?
The highlights of the evening for me were provided by Macshane our local Perth rapper on the mike– he commanded the stage and his freestyle lyrics brought the house down!
No encore, however the audience left the Victoria Hall well satisfied, I overheard two well known local rock artists sharing how good these artists were...
To close, while still negotiating their lease with the local council, this guest reviewer believes The Fly by Night will sell out many, many gigs and events in this cosy new venue.
Rock on ‘The fly’!
Guest Review by Gay Reed
Candice McLeod / Ensemble Formidable / Kallidad
The RoseMount Hotel, 15 Apr 15
It was a pleasure to catch the last four songs of Candice McLeod. Small in stature but huge in voice Candice has a laid back country western style that was soothing and equally electric in nature. Songs of heartbreak in the best Dolly Parton meets Loretta Lynn style.
The electric and eclectic nature of Ensemble Formidable were indeed astounding and awe-inspiring. The eight piece jazz outfit got the light twirlers enthused and performing. Very soon after the gathering onlookers were swinging stage front. With the groups enthusiastic and, at times eccentric performance from the red shirted trumpet player, they won over the audience with the quirky jazz and swing notes.
As stage time neared for headliners Kallidad the watchers and hearers ballooned in numbers. The freshly face painted trio were warmly greeted as old friends as they marched on stage to perform their Mexican magic. Fresh from their Fairbridge Festival success they continually improvise the recorded songs so you never really hear the same tune exactly twice over. This helps them to stay fresh and enthused, and with Jackinko (Jason) forever on the move and Raven (Tom) gracefully gliding over the stage it’s also a show of movement and light. Senior Bang Bang (Jules) is also making more trips from the signature Boom Box to the drum kit so at times the sound fills out. His pulsing and rolling rhythmic style adding depth to favorites and new tunes alike.
Songs titles included “Poco Loco”, “Amigos! Glorious! Amigos! Victorious!”, “Glameretto”, and dedicated to WA “The Wild, Wild Western”. As well as being their last WA show of this particular tour leg it was their largest indoor venue to date. The light show of the Rosemount was nothing short of spectacular.
The enormity of the event also touched the band. Several times Jason gave heart felt Thanks to everyone for making the effort to come out on a Wednesday night.
Kallidad were also joined by their famed Belly Dancing crew. The story was shared of how the acclaimed addition to the Kallidad party actually came about.
The Belly Dancing teacher and troupe leader, having seen them at Nannup in 2014, asked if it was OK to use their music as a backdrop for lessons. Being caring and sharing guys they gave the nod. So when they returned to WA there was a troupe of delectable ladies ready to gyrate, rotate and whirl with them on stage - if the offer was acceptable.
As you would expect, quicker than a mongoose up Senior Bang Bang’s trouser leg the offer was agreed to.
Such is the bond and dedication of all that one of the dancers, Sarah, spent her last night in Perth before departing for overseas adventures dancing on stage with the merry gang.
The one hour and thirty five minute set came to a close just before midnight with the crowd refusing to leave without one final encore. Heading back for their home town of Sydney the next day one can only hope Kallidad return soon. If the rumored Alice Cooper/Motley Crue support slot at the Perth Arena, 23rd May, gig doesn’t come off then hopefully it will be before the withdrawal symptoms become unbearable.
Now for the sad news. Just in case your wondering why there are no Kallidad pix supporting this review as I clicked the shutter for the first shot the battery died. The good news is the gig was being recorded for video!
With Kallidad shows magic happens!
Fairbridge Festival, 10-12 April 2015
With over a 100 acts spread over 13 venues and two days and three nights this was never going to be easy to catch all of the magnificent and gifted acts at Fairbridge Folk Festival world event. Apologies in advance to the performers I missed but here what follows are some of the names I was lucky enough to see.
The intermittent rain did not appear to dampen any spirits, be they performing or not. The myriad expanse of music talent that abounded was astounding and seemed endless. As many of the appellations were new to me it was more by chance and the randomness of the Universe that I arrived at many of the stages.
So without further ado here is a taste of the performers and sounds that I had the pleasure of encountering.
Friday night was orientation and coming across the bluegrass guitar stories of Jane Germain with her Lazy Boys who were fast on the fret board was a delight. The young folk quartet, Oh Pepi followed. With their boundless energy and enthusiasm being upbeat while they broke hearts with some of their story lines. Solo banjo performer John Flanagan enchanted with his skill and dexterity. The dancing progressions and propelling bass lines integrated African beats expanding into almost Gaelic back beats. This lead into the more traditional Irish folk of The Nuala Kennedy Band.
Friday night finished off with my personnel “Find of the Festival”, Katie J White and her excellent recently fabricated band. If my memory serves me the newest member (keyboards) having only jammed with them once prior to Fairbridge. The power of Katie’s soulful voice is the first striking aspect of the funky based congress. Very soon the plucking finger work of the pumping, strutting bass hits home. Once you recover the realisation then kicks in that the guitar work of Daniel Hearn is very tasteful, adding a rock element to the tunes. . The solid drumming with deft touches provided a solid foundation but yet filled out the sound. Finally the sax and keyboards add even more soul and deft layers of texture respectively to each composition. Friday finished on one hell of a high!
Saturday gave the opportunity to replay your favourite acts of Friday, catch up on old musical friends and float on like a leaf on the Universal wind. As Confucius was heard to say “Life is like a Chinese dinner – a combination” and so it was for Saturday as I meandered on the river of time. A revisit of Jane Germain and the Lazy Boys allowed the obligatory morning coffee to settle. Wanderings around the venues to get acquainted with the festival layout led to finding the soulful blues guitar storytelling and banjo picking feast of Harry Jakamarra. Harry shared the exciting news he is about to start work with Australian blues folk legend Jeff Lang on a collaboration release. The afternoon also included a sweet experience of helping connect the Mexican Death Fiesta Mayhem trio of Kallidad with Pirate 88 Freo. Subsequently being in the newly opened John Butler studio for a flamingo fast interview was a merited occurrence.
The buzz of the afternoon settled into the Youthopia stage for the unique recipe of Reggie, rock, jazz and folk of six piece youthful Raksha. The previous day they had the honour of being the first act for the opening of the John Butler recording studios in Fairbridge Village.
Preparing for the arrival of Pirate 88 Freo friends Kallidad I arrived at the Hoopla stage with The Rouges in mid-set. The volume of the rebellious audience was only matched by the fiery passion of the performance of the onstage posse. It was dancing-beer-hall atmosphere that had the volume turned up. I wonder if Kallidad were a tad nervous at following such an exploding presentation?
The audience thinned and were replaced in numbers as the death masked trio strolled on keen to let their music do the talking. Their six string draw being as fast as any famed Western gun slinger. They rampaged through their set with the high volume dancing audience reaching decibel limits that must have heard in Pinjarra. A performance that placed Kallidad in a leading position to be voted “Best Performer of the Festival”.
Although the festivities continued that was enough to send me happy and to the temporary HQ tent home.
Sunday was another floating morning with the friendly Fairbridge breeze blowing me to the Youthtopia stage. There it was privilege to watch the unquestionable talents of the winners of the multi-category competition for youths. In particular 13year old Shannon (?) White is a future star with a voice of Melissa Etheridge meets Nancy Ames.
To round off my festival the Katie J White band played a storming funky Reggie infused rock set to prove my initial encounter with the band was not a false premonition.
There was not enough hours to sample the many workshops or select sumptuous meals from each of the festival vendors. Mention has to be made of the camping shop which helped out those in need of replacement tent pegs and poles as well as other essential camping nick knacks.
Yes Faribridge Festival I will be back !
Michael Franti & Spearhead
Tijuana Cartel, Donavon Frankenreiter, Blue King Brown
Redhill Auditorium, 18 April 2015
Driving into the Perth Hills on a gorgeous warm evening, prior to the night chill coming in, it was a pleasant escape form Perth city. Red Hill Auditorium, the venue for tonight’s show, is situated in the beautiful Swan Valley home to many of the fine WA wines. This was the last show at Redhill for the summer events and what a stealer line-up it was.
The unique Tijuana Cartel kicked off the preceding and brought the audience down from the terraced seating into a front stage forum. Their melding of differing musical styles into a musical melody started the dancing for the night. How to define their sound?
Take the flamenco like guitaring style of front man Paul George, mix it with some electro beats courtesy of Carey O'sullivan, and add in a splash of samba like conga & percussion of Dan Gonzalez mix in some Arabian musical patterns and you have the ingredients for a chilling party. The forty five minute set included fan favourites Persian, Kanned Arabs, Run Away and White Dove. In addition guest musicians were invited to play trumpet, violin and drums at differing intervals. An awesome start to the night!
Donavon Frankenreiter was new to this scribe and turned out to be a laid back trio who to these ears were influenced by the classic West Coast sounds The Doobie Brothers, at times intermingling with Southern Rock and the surfing vibes of Jack Johnson. Latter research found that Jack Johnson is in fact a good friend of Donavon. His soothing vocals added to the harmonising atmosphere of Red Hill while at times his guitar solos shredded the night air. Playing lead guitar Donavon was backed by very competent drumming and a seated twin-neck bass/rhythm guitarist. Nearing the end of forty-five minute Donavon called up a (seemingly) random punter onto the stage to sing. The band and, I propose the rest of the assembled, were astonished by the vocals capabilities that the random displayed. Perth has got talent!!.
I must be falling behind with the musical times as the next set was also the first acquaintance I’ve had the pleasure with Blue King Brown. The set commenced with five core members (drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, percussion) on stage before being joined by the two backing singers from West Papua. Then the fireball vocalist Natalie Pa'apa'a bounced on stage. Mainly Reggie based tunes that were diverted by samba tempos were a hit with the dancing floor. Natalie highlighted the political landscape of West Papua is highly volatile with the intrusions upon human rights by the Indonesia military on orders. Additionally the Aboriginal Flag was brought out to protest at the enforced closures of Aboriginal Community in WA. As the music and lyrics of Blue King Brown prompted peace, love and the ongoing struggle to find ones true self, along with harmonised backing singers, it was clear why the political shout out held particular relevance to this vocalist and band. The amazing energy of Natalie was sustained for the whole set supported by the gifted band that surrounded her.
The ambiance of love, peace, joy and freedom that had been established by the preceding bands was set to be multiplied a hundred fold by Michael Franti & Spearhead. Their unique mix of Reggie, funk, a little rock and even some jazz is a liberation for the soul. The dance pit stage front was packed with jiving bodies, and responded to Michael’s request to spread the love with hugs with energetic gusto. The only time Michael was still was when he was at the mike. Like Natalie before he bounced and danced his way around the stage. I even lost count the number of times he danced into and among the crowd, going walkabouts with a chord less mic. One sojourn into the sea of fans was also accomplished with an acoustic guitar without a note being dropped or a beat missed.
It was as if the steeped layers of the auditorium was made just for a Michael Franti show. It wasn’t just a set, a band playing on stage but it was an expression of love, of humanity, of joy and laughter. There was even a marriage proposal onstage that was getting so dragged out that even Michael urged the question to be made without a delay.
Michael gave out his heart and soul in this communion of good energy. He also explained his story of being adopted and brought up to treat others even better than you want to be treated. This philosophy is reflected in Spearheads lyrics and onstage enactment of attitude. Nearing the end those stage front were invited on stage for a wild melee of dancing and jiving. One young person sang the lyrics to a song as he was prompted by Michael.
When the stage eventually cleared the band played a few more numbers. As they finished they keep the party going with techno dance tracks blasting out of the stage sound system. You never even noticed them leave!
As with the previous band one of their narratives is living in a society that is not being driven and shaped by economics but economics being shaped by people using kindness, freedom, love and joy as the motivating force. And some might say that is Rebellion!!
Legs Electric / Lepers & Crooks
Mojo's Bar, North Fremantle 23 April 2015
The drawcard of Legs Electric as support to the main act was enough to make me turn around and head to Mojo’s after San Cisco exposed themselves, so to speak, to the demanding glare of an on stage performance at The Fremantle Arts Centre.
Once the Mojo’s stage set up was complete Legs Electric walked on stage. With instruments strapped on or drum sticks in hand the rumbling bass, drum rolls and guitar feedback noise level began to build. Their intro was like an equivalent to a sporting team’s pre-match huddle. With backs to the small but enthusiastic gathering of rock music connoisseurs, loyal fans and the odd rock star the energy intensity rose before their full frontal musical attack was launched.
As Legs Electric burst into full flight of the first number I was glad that it had been a “Temporary Road” home before a crossroads brought me to Mojo’s Bar. The sound and sight of these musical whiz’s in action proved fuel a “Strange Addiction”. I was unable to stop clicking the camera shutter button even though my photograph skills are minimal and felt like a voyeur exposed. By the third number the energy levels all round were building such that if all were not a peace loving crowd the response to the question of “Wanna Riot” would have been an explosion of blood, bone and guts.
Some “Illicit Love” was the only way to calm obsessions down but then again this might have been a “Trigger” to more questions. One had the feeling that “If” the band had played a full set then a post gig circle meeting would have each band member looking to the left and saying “She’s Like A Saint”.
So although the most striking elements are powerful vocals and mature stage presentation of lead vocals Ama Quinsee and the shredding axe of Laura McCormack you cannot ignore the support of the consistent, energetic but wild like drumming if Kylie Soanes and the thunderous bass runs of Abby Soanes. The final word has to be their “Kingdom” awaits.
Trying to find a comparasion I would say the heavy blues of Cinderella meeting a rocked up Heart or Pat Benatar playing Motorhead style riffs is getting close. Throw in the Legs Electric style and you have a band that has to go East to build their support base. So show your encouragement and head to the Indie Bar, Scarborough on Saturday 16th May.
The headline act from Sydney, Lepers & Crooks, are on their WA leg of a tour that started last New Year’s Eve. The lead singer Sam Baker looked to be standing up to the rigors of three months of touring well. His energetic and at times almost epileptic performance was transfused to these full of beans watching from the floor. The hard edged rock sound was beautifully built on the complex guitar skills of Alex Court taking the lead and man-in-hiding Pat handling the rhythm. The explosive drumming reminded me of the power of Cozy Powell mixed with the complexity of Vinny Appice. Dummo Joneses drum solo displayed the mastery he has over his instrument of choice. The bouncing bass of Nick Berg rounded out this unit.
If Skid Row and Budgie were to meet the unlikely partnership of Pearl Jam and INXS in an alley you might find Lepers & Crooks walking out onto the street.
To celebrate Pat’s birthday mid-way through there set Fremantle resident Jeff Martin, front man and driving force of The Tea Party, took over the guitar for a blistering rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock’n’Roll”. Pat went to get the drinks in and song over they had a celebratory shot each.
What a night of Maximum Rock’n’Roll and a privilege to have been present!!
Mojo's Bar, North Fremantle 26 April 2015
You are able to see the esteem Rob Walker is held in the WA song writing and performing community when he lands the prestigious support slot for Jeff Martin’s recent gig at Mojo’s.
The strong vocals and galloping acoustic guitar may be the vehicle to let Rob’s demons out and we are the lucky recipients.
Opening song “Reckless” has a wild west feel of riding the outback bush at breakneck speed. “Change Something” is a heartfelt number that still trucks along, keeping the tempo up. “The Devil” is a medium of angst, tension and an emotive cleansing of the spirit. Great work on drum pedals added to the energetic vide going out.
As my note taking was MIA not sure if the tempo is brought down for either “Jaded” or “I’d Run To You”. “Signals Song” (?) kicks off the vibrant pulsating moods off again and “This Moment” ends in a frenzy of riffs.
Rob Walker is one hell of a performer and this was one hell of a set.
What can be said about a legend such as Jeff Martin that has not already been said? Suffice to say this event was to support the release of Jeff’s latest recording offering “Sub Rosa” on his shareholding label “93records”. It was also a” Goodbye and Thank You” tribute to Mojo’s and North Fremantle where Jeff used as a base for the last year or so. He appears to be moving East Coast ways.
There were a mixture of Tea Party songs, EP songs and if my ears served me right a new song or two. The performance on one of The Tea Party numbers, “Requiem”, was outstanding, masterful and moving. Jeff’s deep and emotive voice is made to move mountains never and people hearts and souls.
Jeff also wetted our appetite for the future by announcing a forthcoming collaborative release. Recorded with Sarah McLeod (The Superjesus) Mick Skelton (Baby Animals) we certainly are waiting with bated breath. Having had the fortune of witnessing Sarah and Jeff on the “Man the Lifeboats” tour last year this should be an energetic release of vibrant proportions to say the least.
The drumming supporting Jeff was phenomenal as well. I missed the name of the champion but the drum rolls and percussive work on the song that Jeff dedicated to Mother Earth was exceptional. I’ll refrain from attempting to name that Tea Party song to save embarrassment of getting it wrong and insulting the dedicated Tea Party fans that were there, and out there.
However the challenge of reaching in to bring it out cannot be walked past in such a cavalier manner. So I say that it was “Save Me” that at one point erupted into one of the most well known rock songs of all times. Conversely, as mentioned by Jeff, I’m unable to say the name of this classic due to legal obligations.
At times the emotions the Jeff manages to invoke come from such a deep, deep place that one can feel that the Universe itself is talking through Jeff. Indeed using him a conduit to reach as all and shake us the from mind set of daily routine into one of Higher Conscious.
To thunderous applause of the well filled bar Jeff and drummer returned for one last encore to be joined by a local harmonica player. They melded into one and jammed to perfection as you would hope, and expect, such a gifted and musical talented trio would.
What another night of musical magic at Mojo’s !!
The Script, Perth Arena, 24th April 15
Guest Reviewer Gay Reed
As lead vocalist/pianist Danny O'Donoghue shared from stage during their packed Perth arena concert "It's only 8 years ago we were all broke, sleeping on each other's couches in Dublin ..."
How life has changed for this trio - Danny, Mark Sheehan on guitar/vocals and Glen Dover on drums; touring the world with their fourth album from 2014 'No Sound Without Silence'.
Perth was the first stop on their Australian tour and what a slick performance they gave a very appreciative audience. The concert started theatrically as the trio entered Perth Arena from the rear in total darkness, making their way to the stage surrounded by two dozen neon illuminated Irish flags zigzagging through the throng. Truly a powerful sight before launching into a couple of Irish ballads then executing hit after hit...more on these later.
The drumming was crisp, Danny's vocals superb; hauntingly beautiful throughout 'If you could see me now'. Mark Sheehan rapped out some stunners singing lead on several songs, along with admitting to an extreme fear of heights - sharing the shyte his bandmates gave him when filming 'Man On A Wire' literally hanging off a high rise building in South Africa. Why South Africa? Because no other country would allow them to film hanging from a wire!
The Script have some clear influences; including U2, Timberlake and Van Morrison. Standout hit songs for this reviewer on the night included ...If you can see me now, Six degrees of separation, Nothing, Superheroes and Man on a wire.
This Irish pop rock trio rocked, rapped, partied, shared some hilarious stories and gave their fans a 'superhero' night to remember. I haven't heard so many Irish accents at one venue in a long time and hope they return to Perth to lead the party again soon.