Sunday, 27 April 2014

Dr John/Aaron Neville Hamer Hall 21.04.14

Well it's that time of the year again, Bluesfest hits Byron Bay and also brings to Melbourne some of the great acts on the festival line-up. It was the with great expectation that I went to Hamer Hall to see Dr John and Aaron Neville two names synonymous with the New Orleans R&B sound. If you listen to the history of New Orleans R&B from the late 50's you will inevitably hear Dr John or Aaron Neville and his brothers whether as featured artists as in the case of Aaron or as a much vaunted session player that was Mac Rebenack before he became Dr John the Night Tripper in the late 60's.

It was a great show but there were some early sound issues, especially early in Dr John's set his vocals were very muffled but eventually it was sorted out. Dr John didn't dissapoint he covered all his most recognisable songs, the classic Walk on Gilded Splinters from the Gris Gris album was taken at a more sedate pace, the standard New Orleans R&B track Iko Iko was delivered in Mac's classic stretched out New Orleans nuanced style. It seemed from the balcony that he gained greater pleasure in performing material from his latest studio release, the brilliant Locked Down produced by Black Keys front man Dan Auerbach. Revolution which is more of a nod to his early New Orleans style was performed with a nice pumping rhythm and the Dr's vocal performance was first class, Big Shot was done with customary up front funkiness and Getaway also showcased the rawness of his vocals. Dr John was ably backed by a five piece band that included a B3 organ which added to the depth of the songs. He finished with the classic Such a Night, a song I first saw him perform on The Last Waltz, it was a performance full of charisma. Dr John to me has never received the kudos he deserves, he took New Orleans R&B and gave it a distinct flavour that hasn't been matched in over 35 years.

Aaron Neville really is New Orleans royalty, the Neville Brothers were a huge part of the success of New Orleans R&B whether as session players or as part of The Meters or their later incarnation The Neville Brothers. Aaron has had a diverse career and he kicked off the show with some songs from his new album My True Story which covers the classic doo wop and R&B of the late 50's and early 60's. Neville did a great version of Stand By Me followed be versions of There Goes My Baby and Cupid all done in that honeyed soul drenched vocal. He performed  Don't Know Much as a tribute for Linda Rondstadt who was recently diagnosed with Parkinsons disease. He did a great gospel driven version of Bird On a Wire which was released originally by the Neville Brothers in 1978, there was also his classic cover of Main Ingredient's Everybody Plays The Fool. Aaron was joined on stage by brother Charles Neville who played some tasteful horn accompaniment.

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