A collection of reviews and photography by Madeleine O'Gorman
Published in Inpress/TheMusic.com.au 09.05.12
The night’s apparel screams of a dazzling, bygone era. While the men look dapper in their fedoras and vintage suits, there’s no doubt that the ladies prevail both on and off stage. Beehived, fake-lashed and sequined lasses swarm around the venue in a bubbly Daisy Buchanan-way, before the first support commands everyone’s attention. With hips that snake around the stage, Stella Angelico oozes sultry, old-time glamour that’s perfect for tonight’s production. Together with her band The Switch, she oscillates between vulnerable lover to ballsy vixen, belting out, “…mister, I’m gonna eat ya alive”. A witty blonde adds to the eccentricity by playing host for the evening, introducing the jazz-act (and in-between band for the night) The PutBacks with a loud, “Areebaaaaaa!” The surprise fillers blow everyone away with their improv tunes before Kira Puru & The Bruise steal the spotlight back with a sensational, heavy blues performance. Puru robs the room of its joviality, lifting the crowd with a thrilling intensity through her fierce stance and towering vocals.
The silhouette of the night’s leading lady is striking in itself. Melbourne’s own Clairy Browne & The Bangin’ Rackettes have recently revived the doo-wop movement with their debut album Baby Caught The Bus, securing festival slots and national tours. Tonight, Browne’s signature high-hair and loud make-up brightens the already glitter-embellished stage. Feasting her eyes on her crowd of clones, she opens with the smoky Yellowbird before inviting her harmonising trio The Bangin’ Rackettes to the stage, completing the nine-piece line-up.
To label the show a ‘gig’ is a huge injustice to the whole production. During the stage-spectacular (if you will), we’re treated to costume changes, synchronised dancing and sax solos. One minute the matching Bangin’ Rackettes are crooning blues in Vicious Cycle, the next minute they’re go-go dancing in Baby Caught The Bus. While the spectacle is electrifying, the spine and allure of the group is Browne. She’s warm yet ballsy, with an enormous voice that could move mountains. Much like her supports, Browne’s feisty alter ego demands the room, hinting of a duet – ”tonight is all about tough bitches!” – before Puru surprises us from the crowd to sing a thrilling verse of You Don’t Owe Me Nothing. The steady-swagger of She Plays Up To You along with Aeroplane, I’ll Be Fine and Love Letter have the packed-room whistling and jiving before the encore Frankie caps off the night. Ladies and gentlemen, the stakes have been raised.