Live Review: TROMBONE SHORTY & ORLEANS AVENUE @ Prince Bandroom

11 April 2012 | 11:09 am | Bryget Chrisfield

More Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue More Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue

Ah yes, you've gotta love a Bluesfest sideshow to raise the average age gig demographic. And the venue's gee-up music furthers reflects this: Aretha Franklin and then Procol Harum's A Whiter Shade Of Pale washes over the spirited crowd. Punters vary from Crumpler users to Janelle Monáe look-alikes and every available inch of space is utilised, which forces us into the corner under a pull-down projection screen. No matter, this provides a surface for our spontaneous hand shadow puppet show.

Tremé has obviously done Trombone Shorty's reputation no harm and we brace ourselves for Ooh Poo Pah Doo live. Orleans Avenue stride on stage and it's an awesome sight, with an instrumental combo that promises eargasms aplenty: baritone and tenor saxophones plus percussion added to the standard guitar, bass and drums. This being the ensemble's last Australian show, the joy each band member radiates heats the room to a feverish boil as if we're all crammed in inches away from a cauldron containing sizzling Cajun gumbo. As soon as he sits on his stool, drummer Joey Peebles requires an industrial fan directed faceward. His energy is as infectious as Tommy Lee's behind that kit! Multi-instrumental prodigy Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews joins his band on stage and we are captivated slaves to his rhythm. Andrews describes the band's sound as “Supafunkrock”, but it's more like supercalifunkilisticexpialidociousrock. The interplay between brass instruments is unbelievable, as Andrews thrusts his trombone slide into the bells of his bandmates' saxes as if challenging them to blow harder. Guitarist Pete Murano earns his nickname “freaky Pete”, making his instrument sing while offering up a shy grin to various lucky audience members.

Some improvised call-and-response phrases are blown Murano's way as brass instruments blast out melodies in quick succession for the guitarist to instantaneously imitate. Jackets and handbags are discarded. Basically anything that gets in the way of backbone-slipping dance moves is passed forward and then placed upon the stage edge. Andrews is a triple threat; 1) He can hold a sustained note on the trumpet that would make Louis Armstrong's lungs quake, 2) He sings like a true soul brother and 3) He always looks smashingly dashing. How can this svelte frame house the lung capacity necessary to pull off a ridiculously elongated continuous note (thanks to circular breathing and bulging eyes in sockets to complete the effect)? (Fan-recorded video footage clocks this in at over two-and-a-half minutes.) Sure, he's spent afterwards, but after a theatrical breathless stagger across the front of the stage, Andrews picks up his trumpet and gets straight back into it after just one exaggerated false start. We're lead through an, “Are you ready?” call and response and then the band perform a tricky, single-note, percussive pattern in perfect unison, obviously thriving on executing the seemingly impossible. Andrews works in I Got A Woman by Ray Charles and some mid-song scatting hits the mark.

All players swap instruments for the encore with Andrews taking his place behind the drum kit and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue sure do show us Something Beautiful tonight. They have earned every last clap and the celebratory nature of this gig makes it impossible to head straight home afterwards. The Corner's downstairs bar heaves with post-show revellers. Therein, percussionist Dwayne “Big D” Williams is available for autographs and bear hugs.  

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