As I was heading to this gig I started to think about weird existential issues about the Australian music scene: why isn’t soul and funk given the attention it well deserves? Hell, there are bands and singers who sweat and work to the bone to deliver great gigs each week in and around Australia, yet a lot of this style of music from Australian artists don’t translate to CD or MP3 sales. It’s very odd, and while that hard working talent was in full swing tonight, I kept on thinking about whether or not people who perform in this genre measure success. Do the crowds at gigs warrant satisfaction in their audience numbers (which are fairly large from what I can tell), or numbers in their music sales?
Chelsea Wilson was up first for a short but sweet set of upbeat and funky songs. I was down at the front of the room-so I have no idea if it was where I was positioned- but I was a little put off by the mix in her set. The first few tracks had me struggling to hear what she was singing, but those issues were fixed a few songs in, and her set finished on a groovy, upbeat sound, despite her songs, like ‘Bitterness’ and ‘Devil Woman’ in focusing on the trials and tribulations of being hurt with love.
Shirley Davis graced the stage not too long after and delivered a set full of sultry songs; and even more encouragement from the crowd in the form of dancing made the night seem like it was more Saturday than Tuesday. Shirley went through songs like she had a mission to be as soulful as possible. James Brown’s ‘It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World’ got a whirl in Shirley’s set, and I have to say that she sung it with aplomb-enough to make me think that she could own the song in her own right.
Kylie Auldist was on quickly as each singer had the same backing band, making the turn around very swift; and kept the soul going without it all sounding tired or over burned. She brought a really happy smile on stage and sang her heart out playing both her original songs and some interpretations of other local soulsters. The other two ladies came back to combine their great voices for us eventually. It was sublime to hear them all in unison.
This brought it all back to what I was thinking at the beginning of this review – the soul and funk scene is well and truly alive in this country and there are oodles of support within the many corners of Melbourne. They all support each other and have fun doing so, which really matters in the end.