For a little while now I’ve found myself falling under the spell of the music coming out of New Orleans. So I jumped at the chance of seeing one of the cities renowned brass bands, The Soul Rebels, when they stopped off in Perth for the arts festival. Expectations were high and exceeded in a night that that was brimming with energy and featured some of the best positive peer pressure I’ve seen at a gig.
The eight-piece kicked of proceedings with their version of the Eurhythmics classic “Sweet Dreams”; immediately setting the tone for the evening. Right from the start the majority of the audience were on their feet dancing, and continued right through the bands ninety minute set. Even those seated at the back, were brought to their feet during one of the band’s closing songs “Get Up”; thanks mostly to the band getting the rest of the audience to turn to face them whilst dancing and shouting out “get up”.
The band drew upon the rich musical traditions of New Orleans and gave the audience a smart and fun mix of hip-hop, soul, jazz and funk; with covers of Kanye West, Curtis Mayfield and Michael Jackson finding their way into the mix. Whilst the majority of the evening’s songs took the form of instrumentals, the band had the audience’s attention throughout. Audience participation was more or less mandatory with the band calling for 100% participation. And for the most part they got it, with the audience engaging in some synchronised dancing during “504” and plenty of great call and answer moments.
My one and only complaint would be that as times the band’s vocal mics could have done with being a little higher in the mix; especially for the moments when they broke out into a rap. But that took nothing away from my enjoyment of the night or from the performance in general.
Whilst it was not quite the same as seeing the band in their native hometown, it was the next best thing, and an opportunity that shouldn’t be passed up as they continue their debut tour around Australia. You’ll go, you’ll dance, you’ll sing and you won’t regret any of it.