Live Review: Abbe May, Alexis Naylor, Kozo, Zola Li

23 May 2019 | 3:46 pm | Karen Lowe

"Open Minds Music and Freo Social have managed to create something wonderful here."

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Every now and then, a new venue pops up around town with the idea to tackle the live music scene in new ways. This time around, it’s Freo Social (aka the old Fly By Night) and so far, their ideas have been pure brilliance. 

Last night’s concept, Open Minds Music: You Saw Them First, was simple but effective – showcase three emerging local artists with their own original music. It’s a sit-down affair with the option of in-house dining which creates a relaxed atmosphere for everyone involved. 

Open Minds Music director Maurizio Aimoni introduced the first act for the night. From the very moment that Zola Li opened her mouth, she had the audience eating out of her hand. She told us the stories behind her original songs and had everyone in stitches. She played three originals and one cover and her personality shone through brightly. 

Aimoni then introduced the next artist and told us that Kozo had approached him while he and his partner were out at a café. Kozo wanted to know how to get up on the line-up and Aimoni told him to sing right there and then. Kozo was so unassuming when he walked out on stage but as soon as he opened his mouth and started singing, the audience sat up and took notice. Kozo had an excellent stage presence and is definitely one to watch out for.

The last of the You Saw Them First artists was Alexis Naylor. While she had the strongest voice of the night, her stage presence was, unfortunately, weaker than the first two acts – it felt like she was holding back. Having said that, her songs were beautiful and powerful and, with work on her stage presence, Naylor has the potential to go far. 

The headliner for the night was none other than the accomplished Abbe May, who played some of her first gigs at the old Fly By Night. She told us that she was going through a sober patch and was feeling a bit nervous.

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She may have felt nervous but it did not show in her performance. May always appears confident on stage and last night was no different. She knows how to work the audience, telling us stories behind some of the songs and had us all crying with laughter about her new kitten. May always puts on a killer performance, performing dirty blues while retaining a sense of humility. 

Open Minds Music and Freo Social have managed to create something wonderful here with You Saw Them First and hopefully, this really takes off. Make sure you get down to the next one because who knows, years from now, we could all be saying we saw one of these acts first.