Stripped back is an odd description for a band that crammed eight players on to the tiny Amplifier stage on Thursday night.
REVIEW SIMON COLLINS
Stripped back is an odd description for a band that crammed eight players on to the tiny Amplifier stage on Thursday night. Streamlined, perhaps, is a better term for Melbourne soul outfit the Bamboos, who have eschewed their usual roster of guest vocalists to tour as a four-piece plus three horns and just the two alternating singers.
The line-up reflects their sixth album, the excellent Fever in the Road, which is built to take on the road. While the venue was also downsized from the bigger Capitol to the sweaty Amplifier backroom, Bamboos guitarist and mastermind Lance Ferguson immediately fired up the punters.
"Who thinks they're going to work tomorrow," he asked before soul powerhouse Kylie Auldist tore into the sassy Rats. "We're going to change that."
The Bamboos leant heavily on Fever in the Road, from the Joe Meek-esque Bond theme-in-the-taking of Leaving Nothing Behind to the retro-pop of Your Lovin' is Easy, sung by the other singer, coquettish Ella Thompson.
The Melburnians were super tight, super funky and at their best when Auldist was howling like a hurricane. Thompson played to her strengths, building to a crescendo on the cover of James Blake's The Wilhelm Scream and fitting neatly within the new, new wave sounds of Helpless Blues and Avenger, which open Fever in the Road.
Before the Bamboos got cooking in their soul kitchen, Sydneysiders OXBLVD - hipster typesetting for Ox Blood - dished up some tidy indie blues-rock. Matt Corby lookalike and son of INXS' Tim Farriss, Jake Farriss led the four-piece with plenty of confidence, even if What You Got for Me veered too close to Kings of Leon terrain.
From soul revivalists to their current fresh directions in groove, the Bamboos have been gigging for more than a decade - and it shows. The band hit the bar for shots before returning to finish us off with last year's Stonesy breakthrough single, I Got Burned, with Auldist re-inventing rock showman Tim Rogers' vocals.
The Bamboos were on fire, heating up a fever on the stage. Pity there weren't more customers there to sample their soul food.