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Live Review: WAMFest Live 2017 - Saturday

10 November 2017 | 3:38 pm | Charlotte SaxonGreg BurgessHurb JephasunRuby Wheeler

"What followed was an awesome display of political statement, delivered with full conviction - from the heart and impossible to ignore."

Photos by Linda Dunjey, Sharon Burgess, Jonny Warrington & Ted Dana

Photos by Linda Dunjey, Sharon Burgess, Jonny Warrington & Ted Dana

Belle Harvey kicked off WAMFest Live 2017 at Mustang Bar and as always delivered an outstanding performance, highlighting material from her debut solo release, Something Of Myself. From the bluesy Crescent City, a song written about the dark and dangerous side of New Orleans nightlife, through to the toe-tapping country of I Hang Pictures, Harvey and band delivered a set that proved to be the perfect start to proceedings.

Over at the Forrest Place, Elli Schoen delivered a powerful-yet-relaxed performance. Dozens of people flocked in from all sides of the perimeter upon hearing the sound of her golden, melodic vocals. People were hanging off the Forrest Chase balcony to get a glimpse of Schoen, her unique vocals and her flaming red guitar.

John Bennett took to the Lot Party stage and delivered a mesmerising performance. His sublime voice and acoustic guitar work were the perfect accompaniment to the relaxed afternoon atmosphere and beautifully presented Bennett’s love of country and culture. An honour to have witnessed.

Right from the start, Surf Rabbits filled The Boston to the brim with their energy. The punk-rock band had the crowd cheering, mates in arms, beers raised to the sky to every song. An air-flip of the guitar was the perfect way to wrap up the full-on set. 

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The diminutive Lucy Peach brought her enormous stage presence with her to Lot Party and, with band in tow, wowed the appreciative audience with her own brand of indie/pop music. With the sun setting behind the stage, Peach’s emotive and soulful voice was the picture-perfect way to say goodbye to the day and usher in the evening ahead. A beautiful performance.

Mustang Bar was steadily filling up with eager punters as local favourites Ralway Bell took to the stage. Fresh from their successful east coast tour, the band treated the appreciative audience to a polished set featuring songs from their recently launched album Dear Friends. Opening with Optimism (Is A Hard Act To Keep Up), they kept the crowd rocking as they delivered pedal steel-soaked, smooth country tunes, with Caught In The Crossfire and Things Are Looking Up proving to be highlights on the day.

The extremely talented five-piece Ru gave an intimate performance of melancholy soul, folk and jazz to a small-but-enthusiastic audience at The Bird. With beautiful harmonies ably supported by a group of brilliant musicians, the shadowy, warm atmosphere of The Bird was a perfect venue in which to witness this captivating band.

Vanessa Hopes was up against it tonight at The Universal. The gifted singer-songwriter had lost her guitarist for the show and yet put on an awesome display of talent showing she's ready for a grander stage. Songs of addiction, homelessness and the will to survive were inspiring and served as a celebration of a saved soul. Hopes' powerful voice commands attention and drips with life experience. A great performance.

Finishing off the alt-country showcase at Mustang Bar, The Little Lord Street Band took to the stage and showed the audience exactly why they were deserving winners of the Best Country Act WAM just a couple of days earlier. With Natasha Shanks and James Rogers sharing vocal duties, the band opened up with Aching And Waiting and it wasn’t long before the boot-scooters were joined up front. The majority of the audience made their way onto the dancefloor and stayed for the rest of the set, which was finished off with What A Year, which seemed appropriate considering the success the band has tasted over the last 12 months. 

Rag N' Bone took stage as darkness kicked in and delivered an energetic, at times epic, performance. Wild, messy guitar, guttural bass, exhausting drums and the vocal attack of Kiera Owen showed this four-piece can create a massive wall of sound. A mighty display from a band that knows how to rock. The building crowd at Lot Party semmed to enjoy every minute of this show.

Brazilian bombshell Juliana Areias’ smooth vocals had Laneway Lounge grooving along early in evening with her jazz-bossa nova fusion giving couples no other choice than to join the growing number of samba dancers on the floor.

The beautiful voice of Matt Allen graced The Universal’s stage with his four-piece band of multi-instrumentalists. Allen’s voice is enjoyably unique and a pleasure to listen to. The talented vocalist gave a smooth performance featuring easy listening, soulful R&B and good, light-hearted banter. The set was an entertaining display of four talented mates, whose love of performing together is infectious, having fun.

Hi. Ok, Sorry brought their unique brand of experimental electronic music to the intimate surrounds of The Bird. The duo positioned themselves face to face, hovering over the apparatus that separated them and busily working like two lab techs hell-bent on creating something never seen before. The result was a captivating performance of rhythmic sounds and a pulsating heartbeat that built ominously to an imminent crescendo. A mesmerising experience enjoyed by all lucky enough to witness Hi. Ok, Sorry. 

Isla Imogen hypnotised Jack Rabbit Slim's with her smooth vocals and rhythmic guitar playing. The jazz-folk artist put on a captivating performance, with quirky songs and a conversational nature. Just her guitar and vocals were all that was needed to showcase Imogen's undeniable talent.

A solo performance from Stella Donnelly is something to behold and once again she delivered on all expectations. Donnelly, fresh from cleaning up at the WAMAwards, confirmed once again exactly what all the hype is about and gave the transfixed crowd at Lot Party a night to remember. Her beautiful voice conveying stunning songs and stories with the experience of a seasoned professional. Donnelly is a crowd favourite and rightly so. Natural performers are a rare and exciting thing to witness and Donnelly is just that.

Delving down to the basement of The Sewing Room, the enchanting voice of Georgia Reed forced you to stick around. Mysterious and brooding vocals paired with steady percussion and driving guitar showcased the band's clear cohesion. The epic guitar solo in Waiting For You To Run was a set highlight and kicked the crowd into gear.

Ziggy Ramo is a young man with a lot to say and you need to listen. With beautifully orchestrated deception, Ramo made a quiet entrance to Lot Party with some light-hearted banter, some extremely talented solo freestyle rapping and general pleasantries. Then he went for the throat. What followed was an awesome display of political statement delivered with full conviction — from the heart and impossible to ignore. A powerful performance delivered with an almost Rage Against The Machine type of angst, this hip-hop artist was simultaneously polarising and yet totally unifying! An amazing artist with an important message delivered with love.

Fedora-adorned Matty T Wall, along with his blues band, filled Laneway Lounge with a mix of guitar shreds, groovy keyboard work and relaxed vocals. The perfect opportunity for WAM attendees to have a breather and recuperate with a drink or two between sets.

Boat Show hit the stage and had the large crowd swarming to get front and centre. Their reputation preceded this indie-punk band and with good reason. The super-talented Stella Donnelly is on guitar and still doesn't steal focus due to this serious collection of talented artists all working as one. With a setlist made up of super-catchy songs delivered with the hell-yeah attitude this band is famous for, it is hard not to love the cheeky performance Boat Show effortlessly produce. This band is bound for success.

The instantly likable Michael Strong set himself up in the intimate corner of The Bird like a street busker surrounded by an arsenal of drum pads, keyboards and tech. Strong attacked his instrumentation and created big beats, layered tracks and unconventional-but-enjoyable Jon Spencer-type vocal cadences. The dark environment Strong had to work in was the perfect setting for conveying the dystopian, bass-driven emotion he created. Quite the experience.

Up next at Amplifier Bar, indie-rockers Split Cities put on a slow-building show. With their melancholic lyrics paired with crisp guitar and crashing drums, the four-piece had heads banging in the moodiest way.

The indie-pop/rock outfit The Money War saw Jack Rabbit Slim's fill up for their set of mellow, blissful tunes and quick jumps to psych-rock tracks. What they lacked in stage energy they made up for in delivery of this dreamy set.

Back at the dimly lit Sewing Room basement, The Floors picked up where Psychedelic Porn Crumpets left off by making sure those who had any last shreds of energy left could put them to good use thanks to their intense, hard-hitting set. No strangers to the WAM stage, the three-piece smashed out a dirty, blues-rock set for this swelling crowd who were keen to kick on into the early hours.

The Boston was the place to be at the end of the night, where Segue Safari wrapped up with their alternative-pop sound and lo-fi tunes. Lead singer Jeremy Segal’s smooth, hazy vocals combined with the band’s solid instrumental led to a perfect set of laid-back tracks. The best way to end a successful night of WA acts.