Live Review: Eilen Jewell, Max Savage & The False Idols, Naomi Keyte

28 May 2018 | 3:02 pm | Alex Collins

"It was a memorable gig for all the right reasons and makes us wish more promoters considered these early evening shows."

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On a lovely Sunday afternoon, it was hard to imagine a more inviting space than the one that was created by two of Adelaide's best bands alongside Eilen Jewell at Chateau Apollo. The open gallery and exposed brick walls set the scene for this casual show, but it was Naomi Keyte and her band's warm brand of modern Australian folk that drew us in. Accompanied by the fiddle for much of the set, her gorgeous voice filled the room as she played a selection of tunes from her debut album Melaleuca and chatted with the audience. It was the perfect introduction to the afternoon - comforting and gentle, but with a raw sense of beauty.

Next up, Max Savage & the False Idols tapped into the pure spring of heartland rock'n'roll. The False Idols have plenty of reference points, from Jackson Browne's driving songs to Nebraska-era Springsteen and some wry ballads worthy of Paul Kelly, but it was when they left the stage that the set's most captivating moment came. Savage is an engaging frontman, equally capable of summoning a rasping rock'n'roll growl or a tender croon but his heartbroken rendition of the plaintive ballad Capricorn was a stunningly intimate moment. When the band returned to run through a few new songs, they turned up the energy levels and finished with a fierce flair that set the stage for the headliner.

Eilen Jewell began with her surf-tinged version of It's Your Voodoo Working. It's the opening cut from her latest album, Down Hearted Blues, which is composed of covers of lesser-known blues and R&B songs, but not necessarily the most representative one. Later on, the four-piece band laid into some steamier blues numbers that captured the mood perfectly, with hot guitar licks, slinky upright bass and Jewell's sultry vocals setting the songs alight.

The largely middle-aged audience had one notable outlier and Jewell's young daughter Mavis took it upon herself to start the dancefloor. Occasionally interrupting her mother to make requests, she was an adorable presence as the band alternated covers with a back catalogue of wry Americana and brash honky tonk. When the crowd shouted for a few lesser-known tracks, they needed to consult briefly before obliging and as the set drew to a close, Jason Beek hopped out from behind the drum kit and put on a washboard. 

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As well as being the band's drummer, he's also Jewell's husband and Mavis's father. It's hard to recall a more touching onstage image than the two of them leaning in to sing bluegrass harmonies as Jewell held their worn-out daughter between them. They followed it by belting out a killer rendition of Willie Dixon's You Know My Love, her voice soaring as the guitar wailed and stepped off the stage a bit before 8pm, leaving behind a thoroughly satisfied crowd. It was a memorable gig for all the right reasons and makes us wish more promoters considered these early evening shows.