Words Will Oakeshott.
The entire journey for this writer to attend this extremely exclusive show was full of pleasant surprises. Conveniently landing on a Thursday night just before an already scheduled trip to the magnificent city of Melbourne; this was the first of many instances of good fortune which thankfully continued as the event progressed. Writer Ron Carlson captured the essence of the adventure best with his quote: “Life is an aggregate of experience, which continually surprises us”.
The first enjoyable surprise came in the form of the delightfully small yet powerful woman known as Mojo Juju who amongst the hustle and bustle of a building and restless crowd made her presence known very quickly. Armed with just a guitar, different to her usual band setup with musician friends and family in tow, Ms. Ruiz de Lezuriaga silenced the audience with a transition in her voice from a sombre Julia Stone-esque fragility to a deafening superhuman bluesy wail that Chris Cornell would seek advice on how to deliver. Mojo’s songs are fortified with soul and heartfelt lyricism showcasing a maturity which musicians strive to achieve for their entire lives. This talent is amplified by her unnerving yet stunning loud-quiet combinations in her music which is seasoned with an almost indigenous effect; in short she has a poppy charm with a dangerous grunt. This was presented impeccably with her compelling rendition of Jay Hawkins’ ‘I Put A Spell On You’ which somehow shone a blinding light on a dark room and captivated the entirety of the venue.
“Are you ready?” – an invitation, a proclamation and ultimately a necessity. Australia has clearly missed the gentleman but worldwide the man is adored and understandably so. The Australian voodoo blues luminary assembled an immensely talented group to exemplify his art, thankfully the same band who tours with him through the US. Including Paula ‘Moist’ Henderson on baritone saxophone, Kendra Kilkuskie on drums and Jessica Lee Wilke on bass, this was instantly more than a concert, it was an extravaganza of remarkable magnitude.
Mr. Stoneking’s trademark authentic blues snarl wooed the capacity crowd within seconds of opening track ‘The Zombie’, which in execution was above elegant. ‘Get On The Floor’ was the necessary anthem to provoke the “movers and shakers” to utilise the limited space on the dance floor; but essentially it was near impossible to not marvel at the angelic man who radiated from the centre of the stage. ‘Tomorrow Gon’ Be Too Late’ was moving to all the senses which carried on nicely with ‘The Thing I Done’.
There is no denying that C.W.’s effortless charisma is a weapon of hypnotism and he certainly appreciates every moment the audience is absorbing his talents. A true gentleman in every sense of the word, even to the improper hecklers he would return with a hilarious anecdote then still thank everyone for watching.
‘Mama Got The Blues’ suggested a gothic gloom identity that changed the momentum of the show in a rather beautifully bleak element. However, this was excessively elated by ‘Handyman Blues’, the definite highlight of the performance.
‘I’m The Jungle Man’, ‘On A Desert Isle’, ‘Jungle Blues’, ‘Jungle Lullaby’, ‘Brave Son Of America’, ‘The Jungle Swing’ and ‘Good Luck Charm’ launched C.W. and his band into another dimension adding further testament why this cavalier is globally adored and desired.
It is testing to depict the gift which C.W. Stoneking possesses, it really has to be witnessed to be appreciated and consequently admired. Having already announced the next Australian tour which will take place in March 2017, readers, please grant yourself the gratuity of the experience, or not just “Mama” will have “the Blues”.