Friday, May 16, 2008

Stonnington Jazz ... and the band played Waltzing Matilda

Opening night at Stonnington Jazz. Opening song of opening night (Vince Jones and Katie Noonan, Songs of Love and War) was Katie singing Eric Bogle's 'And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda'. Interesting choice. Certainly aligned with the night's advertised theme. But felt odd somehow...

Most prominent punter commentary of the night consisted of queries about the matching of Vince and Katie. Were they good together? Were they a match? Opinions varied. The theme of love and war was a perfect one for 'our Vince', who has for years now been choosing songs and writing lyrics that make statements. He makes statements in between the songs too, and that did not change tonight. It was a Vince concert with Katie add-ons. Though I am not qualified to comment on the other direction, never having been to a Katie concert. Perhaps to Katie fans, it was a Katie concert with Vince add-ons.

One observation that I quite liked was that Katie's voice, when she sang in duet with Vince, was a teensy weensy bit lower and we all enjoyed that.

I do love Vince, and his concerts are a great zen lesson in remembering that things 'are what they are'. Let's face it, everybody has something to say about that commentary he runs... but for me, it's easy to enjoy a Vince gig. I love his voice, his almost-hesitant-but-not-quite phrasing, the stunning surety that underlies that also. I've been a fan of his for a long time and have each of his CDs and a couple of favourites among them. My friend Steve appears as a 'Woo Hoo!' in the background of the live CD recorded at the basement in Sydney. And what I've also learned to appreciate about Vince is the wonderful array of musicians he gathers around him. His band tonight were Matt McMahon on piano, Simon Barker on drums, Ben Waples on double bass and Melbourne's Stephen Magnusson on guitar. Strings appeared too, I think maybe because of how well they resonate with Katie's voice... they were for her I think, and their names were... hang on...I can't find their names anywhere. I know that they were introduced, by first name only, and i know that they were great. I didn't write their names down [bad blogger, naughty blogger] But I do remember they all ended in 'ie' like Josie, Nicki... Huey, Duey, Louie... Sorry, string quartet, you know who you are!

Vince sang songs that those of us who have been following him for a while recognised. Wild applause from the audience when he started 'Hallelujah' and 'Don't Jettison Everything'...

There were alot of Vince fans in the audience and alot of us didn't think some of those Vince songs worked with Katie joining in.

But we all seemed to enjoy Katie songs with Katie singing them. One punter just down from me commented on the sweetness of the notes that Katie sometimes hits. Soooo sweet, she said. The punter that is.

And now the bit you've all been waiting for - environment and announcement notes. Well the MC for the evening was Adrian Jackson, the artistic director of Stonnington Jazz and Wangaratta Festival of Jazz... and he declined to resort to disembodied ockerisms that we recently experienced at various Melbourne Jazz venues.

Malvern Town Hall has been restored and brought up to date with great care. It retains original fittings etc but has natty little additions like comfy seats upstairs and plexiglass (?) bullet proof sniper screens on the balcony... only joking! The screens are there but I think they're for putting lights and photographers on. I saw lights and photographers at both ends.

But if you can possibly go to a Stonnington Jazz gig at the Malvern Town Hall, I recommend it, if only for the turbo charged hand dryers in the loos. I only used the one in the Ladies room but I did check and there is definitely one in the Mens too. That thing sounds like a bloody aeroplane taking off! And dries your hands almost instantly, with no noticeable chapping! A nother punter with whom I was lucky enough to share the facilities (in separate cubicles of course!) did comment over the wall that with all that roaring clearly a man had designed it... if it had been a woman, it would have purred.

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