Gig Review: Tue 7 Jun 2011
A shocking night to be out and about in Melbourne, June 7th 2011 was recorded as one of the city’s coldest days. Lucky for me it was the opening night of ‘Women of Soul’. The Toff in Town offering up soulful sounds and ducted heating to warm the cochlea of my ears and the cockles of my heart.
The evening started with a six song set from Melbourne’s Chelsea Wilson. Beginning her act with a lively rendition of Etta James’ ‘Seven Day Fool’, it became immediately apparent that Ms.Wilson possessed the spirit of a sista of the coffee coloured variety. Pulling a Beyoncé, she channelled Sasha Fierce in her nude heels and low scoop backed lace dress, shimmying and shaking without losing a breath. Daring to move beyond the confines of her mic stand, she possessed a remarkable stage presence for a soul singer, my impressed companion whispering, ‘that girl knows how to move’.
A seasoned performer with the ability to move through a range of genres with technical and stylistic ease, the set soon experienced a tonal shift as Ms.Wilson, wide-eyed and wounded, began to sing of heartbreak, betrayal and disillusionment.
‘Bitterness’ the eponymous track of her 2010 EP, showcased her bright, sweet croon, the powerful, Aguilera-esque ‘I Let A Good Man Down’, easily the crowd favourite.
As the set drew to a close, her caustic side was revealed. Speaking in a relaxed, jazzy cadence, she unexpectedly dedicated the Funk Brother’s inspired ‘Devil Woman’, to her father’s new fiancée. A quip that drew a hearty laugh from the crowd.
One rushed cigarette on the terrace later, Shirley Davis took to the stage. Onto their second and third glasses of Sauv Blanc the crowd was looser, welcoming the easy West London inflected chat of Ms. Davis.
Possessing a warm and full sound, Ms.Davis’ set was freer and less structured than her preceding act; the funky bass sounds, keyboard solos and breezy onstage chatter, seamlessly flowing into one another. The performance washing over me and suddenly over before it had even begun.
Notable performances on stage were made by a pair of Timberland-inspired clogs and a cover of James Browns’ 1966 epic ‘It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World’.
Notable performances on the floor included a paisley shirt and his lady-friend who was being swept across the floorboards ‘Strictly Ballroom’ style.
In true diva fashion, killer footwear seemed to be a theme for the night. Kylie Auldist bringing it home in patent leather platform boots which peeked out from beneath her floor length zebra print caftan.
Completely at home on stage, Ms. Auldist performed songs from her extensive catalogue of collaborations, taking swigs of beer between numbers. A veteran of Australia’s music scene, she imbued the room with her positivity and confidence.
Mid-way through the set, I paid a visit to the bar. On returning I found that a mamasita had stolen the seat I had been perched on. When the rickety chair leg didn’t give way under the weight of her hefty thighs, I decided to join the rest of the crowd who had been drawn to their feet. The funkiest set of the night, Ms.Auldist’s energy had managed to get eighty percent of the room dancing.
The evening ended with some pleasant banter and strong vocal performances as the three ladies joined forces to close the show. As a proud Melburnian, I was impressed with the development in my local Soul Scene.
By Davina John