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Live Review: Allen Stone, Shaun Kirk

24 April 2014 | 2:26 pm | Benny Doyle

The playing group that the star has surrounded himself with – a unit with the tight talents of a Memphis house band – clearly gives Stone the confidence to do as he pleases under lights.

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Humidity levels in The Zoo are finally acceptable after almost eight months of sweltering conditions, but Shaun Kirk is doing his very best to get us sweaty once more. Sporting a fedora and a broad smile, the young Melbourne lad operates in solo mode tonight, and although he looks boyish he sounds anything but, coupling a boisterous voice and forceful guitar-playing with a heavy duty harmonica and stomp pad to fill out the sound. The latter gets nice and warm during Smokestack Lightning, a thumping jam that wouldn't be out of place in an Ash Grunwald set, however, it's closing tune Find Me A Lady that really gets the growing crowd on side, with “Shauny” telling a tale of a single, lonely bluesman in Fortitude Valley, the song concluding with a battle-of-the-sexes-style singalong that leaves Kirk in stitches.

The unmanned instruments that were surrounding Kirk soon find their partners as a five-piece band enter the fold and lay down some introductory bars to welcome out everyone's friend Allen Stone. The Washington state soul maestro warms into his set with a couple of new jams – Fake Future especially exciting with its funky, almost disco groove – but is soon hamming it up during Say So, acting referee towards the song's conclusion as his guitarist trades licks with a synth player getting dirty on the talkbox.

The playing group that the star has surrounded himself with – a unit with the tight talents of a Memphis house band – clearly gives Stone the confidence to do as he pleases under lights, and when he leaves them to the instrumentation proper by removing his acoustic guitar and strutting across every spare space of the stage, he offers up the most magical moments tonight, his hands raised and shaking, his pearly whites unmissable as he enunciates the hell out of every word.

A sexy What I've Seen drifts into Celebrate Tonight and there's so much clapping and smiling, with Stone – rocking his trademark vest and specs beneath his tangled blonde curls – showing his love of the microphone, leading a mid-show sermon and demanding we ditch our ego, pride and fear and get onboard his unstoppable soul train. So we do, and how; within minutes the whole room is shuffling to the same energy, Stone keeping those good vibrations rumbling with a next level vocal turn on Unaware.

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Late in the set Million and Voodoo lead us to a gloriously uninhibited Sleep – arguably the pinnacle of the night – before an encore featuring acoustic takes of The Wire and The Bed I Made is given an exclamation point with a brilliantly upended full-band version of Gotye's Somebody That I Used To Know. And we soak it all up, knowing we'll probably never see Allen Stone in such intimate surroundings again.