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Live Review: Stax On Soul Revue

25 August 2014 | 6:49 pm | Eliot Landes

Suzannah Espie proves a highlight, singing 634-5789 by Otis Redding with a smooth voic

Peter Punk fronts Stax On Soul Revue and offers contagious energy plus commentary and informative historical descriptions for each individual song. Not only does this offer the crowd great musical entertainment, but also informative backstories about the Stax Records era. The rhythm section begins an instrumental number. Heavy on the Hammond Organ, rich gospel tones promise an evening of authentic soul sounds and then a three-piece horn section is introduced. The space on stage is challenged during Rufus Thomas’ The Memphis Train with an explosion of abstract dance moves, but the shoulder-to-shoulder attitude of the band is all part of their charm.

Punk possesses a charismatic stage presence and, at times, his voice perfectly emulates Otis Redding’s, but he struggles to reach a few notes here and there. Alongside Punk, there are many vocalists on hand with Kylie Auldist, Suzannah Espie and Chris Wilson all taking turns behind the mic. This impressive collection of voices and personalities allows for a broad range of songs from the soul era to be represented this evening. Chris Wilson’s voice is powerful, as showcased during his rendition of Born Under A Bad Sign by Albert King. But unfortunately he isn’t fully utilised, only singing a couple lacklustre duets and an a cappella version of Otis Redding’s (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay for the gig’s duration. The latter song’s potential as a sing-along isn’t fully realised as there’s little by way of audience participation.

Suzannah Espie proves a highlight, singing 634-5789 by Otis Redding with a smooth voice. Her calm, warm demeanour makes her lovable. But The Bamboos vocalist Kylie Auldist is undoubtedly this evening’s standout. She captivates the crowd with perfect pitch and her energy is mature and strong. Auldist also demonstrates her amiable manner with fellow Stax On Soul Revue musicians, jesting to pianist Brendan MacMahon, “come bungy-jumping with me”.