Live Review: Husky + Ainslie Wills + Cilla Jane – Northcote Social Club (21.05.11)

Things started out chilled enough. Cilla Jane and her acoustic guitar were charming, with her cutesy vocals and tunes about the important things in life, like riding your bicycle. She had the seated crowd in quiet wonder, with songs that meant so much more than that, such as “‘Til The Morning Comes”, and “One Deep Breath”, where she was joined by a band. Taking advantage of the Korg piano on stage, she played like the piano was her own.

Ainslie Wills surely was something else as well. Taking the stage into her own, she was bopping around like there was nothing else in the world that mattered except the people who were in the Northcote that night. She has a stunning voice, and I won’t be surprised if the tag of “soul sister” is accompanied with her image anytime soon. She has a sense of funk without being over the top, and with a sense of mystery thrown in as well for good measure. Songs like “Wide Load” and “It’s A Shame” certainly left an imprint on my memory, and I don’t think it’ll be too long until we see headlining shows from her.

The Northcote filled up to quite unexpected levels once Husky came on stage. They brought energy and vitality in their own special way. This was something unexpected, especially when the guitars that you have available are acoustic only. There was some intricate homeliness to Husky Gawenda’s voice amongst that though, which made for an interesting paradox of sorts. The atmosphere was embracing, and the band reciprocated with some tunes that swung with harmonies aplenty.

The single, “Dark Sea”, was a powerful number. His ‘song about a dream, about a memory in time’, as he put it, had distinctive chorus drumming. The band themselves also went back into history with a few renditions, which were the highlights of the night. The first one was a cover of America’s “Sandman”, which was great enough with a wonderful piano solo from Gideon Press. But the closer of the set – a rendition of The Beatles’ “What Goes On”, with all four members on top of the merchandise desk, singing their hearts out – without amplification – ended a set tinged with sparkly goodness.


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