Live Review: The Brand New Heavies

11 September 2012 | 2:38 pm | Guido Farnell

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Shoehorned into the Trak, Melbourne's lovers of acid jazz become impatient for The Brand New Heavies who are running late. Meanwhile, the DJ spins an obvious selection of '90s acid jazz tunes from the likes of Arrested Development and Young Disciples. Neither brand-new nor particularly heavy, but celebrating 21 years in the business, The Heavies eventually take to the stage. Many acid jazz artists worked with samples, electronics and loops, but The Heavies' focus was always on presenting us with an exhilarating live band experience that showcased their ample musicianship. Tonight they deal the smoothest urban grooves that reflect the influence of funk, soul, jazz, R&B and '70s disco.

After an instrumental intro, drummer Jan Kincaid and vocalist N'Dea Davenport duet on Back To Love. At this stage of her career, Davenport surely has the licence to look and act like a diva but instead she looks ready for a day at the office in a grey pantsuit. In any case, she joyously dances the night away as The Brand New Heavies deliver a set of greatest hits. The band effortlessly pumps out slick grooves, but it is disappointing that the vocals are somewhat lost in the mix. It is not until their cover of the disco classic Midnight At The Oasis that it all starts to come together. New track Addicted is another chilled, mid-tempo groover that finds Davenport telling us that she is addicted to your love. The Heavies really start to hit their straps when they leave acid and jazz behind and reach for the more glamorous retro of disco and funk grooves.

During the second half of the show the Heavies get cooking with faster more energetic tunes. The P-Funk-inspired Have A Good Time gets the dancefloor moving. Davenport truly cuts loose when she belts out Brother Sister. Thanks to Andrew Levy, the mix has plenty of bottom-end as his bass bumps and burbles to create the band's bouncy rhythms. Guitarist Simon Bartholomew struts like a rock god as he dispenses funky guitar licks and appears to be having more fun than many in the front row. The Heavies classic instrumental BNH finds a guest sax player from Sydney indulging us with a wild solo moment as Davenport catches her breath backstage.

Previewing tunes from their new album rumoured to be released early next year, Sunlight typifies the uplifting, positive vibes overflowing with a whole lot of peace, love and happiness that brings a smile to the faces of many fans. This mood continues with tunes such as World Keeps Spinning and You Are The Universe. Dream Come True, which dates back to 1990, elicits a roar of approval. It bounces with soulful, back-in-the day vibes that end the gig on an uplifting note.

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