Live Review: The Harlots, Mojo Juju, Stella Angelico

9 August 2012 | 10:12 am | Madeleine O’Gorman

It's nine o'clock and already the air in the low-lit band room is thick and heated. The implied theme at the Old Bar tonight is masquerade, as many are seen swanning around with dazzling masks, headpieces and hearty laughs. All that's missing are the espresso martinis as the leopard-print clad Stella Angelico serves up her own taste of smoky, soulful fervor against a backdrop of rocking beats. Her stage persona has her oscillating between vulnerable lover and feisty vixen, a theatrical presence that she maintains (and nails) from start to finish.

Mojo Juju is one 'wow'-worthy performer. Together with her band, she hexes the room with a blend of ballsy jazz, light punk, rocking blues and ballads that tease through tantalising stares. Her vocal range has no limits as she shares tales of lovers and evil, (“Bad folks go to prison, sinners go to hell”), while the sax sings a subplot of its own. Double-bassist and drummer are equally as impressive, yet it's the front-woman who many stand on chairs and tiptoes to see amid the sweaty, dancing throng. She welcomes crowd banter with one-liners such as, “I've been told I smell like a rich person's library”, and cheekily hinting for a refill with, “Oh no, my drink evaporated”, to which a punter suggestively yells, “Gin for skin! Gin for skin!”

It's only fair to say that the quality of tonight's acts is split evenly three ways. Six-piece The Harlots don't necessarily outshine their supports, nor are they overshadowed. Instead, each bring their own flair to the stage, and in the case of the headliners, it's their knack for writing stadium-big rock songs. Lead singer Tom Pitts finds his dancing nook on stage between two keyboards and the drums and boy, does he use every inch. There's his Mick Jagger-swagger for starters, but what really gets the crowd going is when he wildly flops his limbs about the stage, body vibrating while his right hand wanders to the keys behind him.

The Harlots play tunes from both on and off their current self-titled EP, including Righteous Man, Bottom Of The Hill, but it's Stronger By The Day that really gets the crowd dancing with its thumping rock chorus, gravelly vocals and hip-shaking verses. Much like his supports, Pitts's stage persona may not translate on CD, but rest assured, it's this charm that's easily the crux of their live set.  

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter