It seemed that every time The Bamboos came to town, life intervened and I couldn’t make it. On one occasion, a friend of mine had the audacity to have a wedding that same night. On another, The Bamboos were supporting some ex-Take That member (cough*Robbie Williams) and I just wasn’t sure I COULD take that. (hahaha – ed) But as the old adage goes, good things come to those who wait…and for such a night, I have waited. The Triffid, complete with pool table, beer garden and pop up American diner can be a dangerous venue in that you want to start early and go home…. much much later. The Bamboos too, it seems, couldn’t resist a sneaky afternoon beverage in the sun. No doubt the Melbourne 9-piece act were reveling in these delicious Brisbane ‘winter’ days.
Pink Matter, the night’s only support, took to the stage around 9 and quickly affirmed their enviable place as preferred party starters. Their online bio describes the all-female group as neo-soul / pop, but these ladies are so much more. They treat us to lounge meets jazz and the best of RnB with some psychedelic sentiments. Vocalist Kerry Raywood has a voice strong beyond her years which reminds me a bit of a young Lauryn Hill. All four members exhibit a wealth of musical talent and knowledge though; quite simply, these ladies know the rules and know when to break them. Ending the set with a cheeky little disco number only added to my appreciation for Pink Matter. I will look for them again.
And then they came on. And I realised, that in all the excitement of finally just SEEING The Bamboos live, I had somehow forgotten that I was in for a fantastic night of music. Before the end of the first song, aptly the album’s title track Night Time People, I had thrown down my jacket to dance and the disused commercial hanger was officially bumping. A few songs later, I remember telling my friend… I only need three words for this review: perfection, perfection, perfection. But, well, here are a few more.
After eighteen years, it’s fair to say The Bamboos have officially come of age but their songs continue to feel young and innovative and make audiences forget their own years. True to their Jazz influences, the act treat Brisbane punters to pointed celebrations of each of its members through extended solos. The respect the group has for one another is palpable and no doubt a catalyst for their growing accolades. Though Lance Ferguson’s intelligence as a songwriter and Kylie Auldist’s vocal power has been widely celebrated, these solos make it obvious that it is all nine members coming together that give them the strength of bamboo. The keyboardist, percussionists and horns alike work up a sweat setting The Triffid on fire, with Ross Irwin replacing his trumpet for the mic at one stage for the band’s cover of Easybeats’ I’ll make you happy. And the song does exactly that. Not surprisingly, the bulk of the set is made up of tracks from The Bamboos’ latest stellar album Night Time People, many of which translate better in such a live venue. I’m not sure I will ever listen to Lance’s guitar solo in Backfired the same way again. By chance I was heading for the bathroom when the sound stopped me in my tracks; a sound Cornell Dupree would be proud of. The Bamboos don’t deny their long-time followers though, busting out
Community Service Announcement, Keep Me In Mind and Like Tears In Rain from the back catalog. If the goal of this funk/soul Australian institution was to have us dance all night and catch ourselves singing involuntarily for days, mission accomplished. I only wish I had had the foresight to buy tickets to the Sydney show as well. A night like this is not easily forgotten, especially since The Night Time people themselves, as promised, came out to share a drink and a laugh with countless fans post set. One could be forgiven for forgetting the growing acclaim and international exposure the group are enjoying; the artists are all very humble, though consummate professionals.
If happiness has a sound, The Bamboos have surely captured it and yet, the stripped back acoustic encore of I Don’t Wanna Stop played by Ferguson and Auldist alone, remind us of the act’s power to not just move our feet, but move us. Second encore The Truth ends the set on a high offering a visceral opportunity for the act to playfully experiment in a way befitting a 1960’s San Francisco dancefloor. Hunter S. Thompson once said this scene “was a very special time and place to be a part of, but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time in the world…whatever it meant”. I feel this way about Friday night’s Brisbane leg of The Bamboos national tour. Let’s hope they do too.
There is but one chance left to catch the Night Time People tour this Saturday 18th August in Adelaide. If you’re after an evening dripping with fun and the best funk n soul Australia has to offer, just get there!
Review Contributed by Renee Morrison