"There's an air of magic as the band alter song arrangements on the fly."
Melbourne soul singer Wilsn opens the night, supported by a guitarist and backing singer. Shannon Busch romances the crowd under two glittering disco balls. Her voice has a honeyed soul tone similar to another Melbourne soul singer, Meg Mac. Wilsn and her backing vocalist meld beautifully across every vocal run. At the end of her set, the audience is left wanting more.
People try to weave their way closer to the stage in preparation for Allen Stone, who is wearing tight jeans, a baggy AC/DC tee and a cowboy hat to tame his wild blonde mane. Early in his performance Stone reveals the program for the night: "We're going to do songs off the new record, songs off the old one, other songs, songs you like, songs you don't like, songs you know and songs you don't know."
There's an air of magic as the band alter song arrangements on the fly. You can tell they've been playing together for a long time now as there is an ease to these modifications. Stone isn't always the one to take a solo and is happy to let his bandmates show off their own musical talents.
The set includes two covers that slide perfectly into Stone's repertoire. It's not until we hear the lyrics, as the choruses hit, that we realise these tracks aren't Stone originals. Stone puts his own unique twist on popular tracks Somebody That I Used To Know — now with a moody blues vibe — and Is This Love, which is given a lazy soul treatment. Other highlights include his own songs Million, Perfect World, Satisfaction and Unaware, during which the audience takes over on vocals giving Stone freedom to improvise and explore his Stevie Wonder-esque high notes.
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"To come all this way and to see so many beautiful, warm, welcoming smiles," Stone says. "Thank you so much." Thank you, Allen Stone, for an enchanting night of neo-soul that allowed us to dance our blues away. We hope to see your smiling face here again soon.