Live Review: Lil' Band O' Gold

1 July 2012 | 1:28 pm | Ching Pei Khoo

“Some of the boys here were talking about how they remembered building this building,” CC Adcock jokes about the 100-year old Regal Ballroom.

“Some of the boys here were talking about how they remembered building this building,” lead guitarist and vocalist CC Adcock jokes in reference to both the 100-year anniversary of the Northcote Theatre, now the Regal Ballroom, and the striking age range among Lil' Band O' Gold's all-male eight band members. They include drummer and vocalist Warren Storm, accordionist Steve Riley, keyboardist David Egan, pedal steel guitarist Lucky Oceans and saxophonists Pat Breaux and Dickie Landry. 

The band leads the audience on a solid, toe-tapping journey down the bayou of Louisiana swamp pop – an eclectic fusion of New Orleans-style R&B with its emphasis on the triple-beat ballads, country and western with airy drifts from the steel guitar, Cajun folk balladry, creole and rock'n'roll. Storm has been pioneering swamp pop for much of the '50s and 60s, and there is a sense of awe as we watch him effortlessly command the drums, completely absorbed with his face basking skywards for most of the evening, save for the occasional raising of a rute clenched in a white-gloved hand. The band plays a constant stream of tracks lifted from their three albums including their latest, Play Fats, which covers tracks from fellow New Orleans native and major influence, Fats Domino. While remaining largely faithful to the originals, the band's layering of the accordion and pedal steel infuse the covers with a distinctive country and western flavour. One disappointment is the absence of any of the guest artists who feature on the album: Robert Plant, Lucinda Williams, Tim Rogers and Jimmy Barnes.

Vocals are shared between Storm, Adcock, Egan and Riley – but it is Storm's masterful blend of rich timbre and howls as he crests heartrending lyrics during I Don't Wanna Know from the band's previous album The Promised Land that wins hands (and hankies) down. Egan's laidback rendition of Domino's nostalgic On Blueberry Hill dispenses with the tremulous vocals that made the original so memorable, but his soulful, high-arching voice is achingly perfect in First You Cry. Most of the lyrics – so vital to the ballads – are unfortunately made indiscernible due to a lacking sound system in the vaulted caverns of the Regal Ballroom that doesn't do justice to the band's controlled cacophonic style and artful surfacing of instrumental solos.

In a more intimate setting, LBOG will be a rare treat for those seeking genuine, unabashed boot scootin' and jamboree-style, slow couple-dancing.

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