Friday, May 15, 2009

Vince's rolling band(s)

I've been enjoying Vince Jones' music since I first heard it on a record (that'll be the black thing with the hole in the middle) sometime in my second year at university. As someone who had toyed with music but whom it had never quite grabbed, I took absolutely no notice at all of the musicians playing in Vince's bands. Which something I'm now unable to comprehend... but maybe this blog goes some way to rectifying that transgression!

It's been said before... and by some of the musicians themselves... that Vince's bands are great training grounds. You can learn things there about stage craft and music that you can't learn anywhere else in Australia. Be that at as it may, the musicians on stage tonight were a stellar bunch, rotating through many of the musicians who have played with Vince over the last 30 (eek!) years. The first combination included Dale Barlow, Tim Rollinson, Ben Waples, Matt McMahon and Simon Barker were first up. (that's tenor sax, guitar, bass, piano and drums respectively) We heard favourites and [i'll just take advantage of the permission that is implicit in blogging to just say what one thinks] I was glad it was just Vince's voice we heard tonight. I think teaming him up with Katie Noonan last year was a mistake. [hovers over delete button.... nah... it stays]

Favourites such as 'Waltz for Debbie', 'Tenderly' (featuring Dale Barlow), 'Let's Get Lost' and 'We Let Them Do It' (with Vince backed by just the rhythm section of Simon, Matt and Ben)

It was in this piece that I felt the concert really began to open up. Perhaps it is just that this rhythm section and Vince have a good conversational style? The song hung together better for me than the previous pieces adn I wonder if that's the risk of trying to re-capture old dynamics. We all move on. But anyway, this song struck me particularly. I was enthralled by Simon's drumming and Vince ended with a trumpet flourish.

My notes say "Mmmm" as punctuation Yeah well, that's what he does... part of his charm and Vinceyness
Next configuration included Jex Saarelaht at the piano, Al Browne on the drums and Steven Hadley on bass, with Doug de Vries on guitar and Wilbur Wilde (The busiest man in Showbiz) on his trusty tenor sax. Punter beside me nodded sagely and said "Ah, the Melbourne band" and was immedialy transported across the years to gigs at the Tankerville Arms. I've written 'Wow, they really hold together' across the page for this combination!

'Stop this world and let me off' featured Doug's guitar. He does have such a lovely sound. I've been hearing him mostly in his latin configurations recently, but enjoyed him immensely in this context tonight.

They went on to play 'Can't afford to live, can't afford to die' and 'Send down more love'

Second set, we saw Tony Floyd on drums, Dale with teh saxophone, Paul Grabowsky at the piano and Steve Hadley on bass. Playing 'Rainbow Cake' and 'Jettison Everything'. It struck me how different this song is when played by Paul and Matt. Matt's playing turns it into an entreaty, Paul's into an admonition. How a touch can change a song!

The next configuration of Sam Keevers (piano) Doug on guitar again, Ben on bass and Simon on the drums played 'Let me please come in' and The nature of power. So much bass! Heavy, man.

Then 'Love, love, love' a 'recent favourite' of mine, in recent revisits of my Vince Jones CD collection (yes I graduated to CDs after that first hearing in the '80s) Once again the difference between player struck me (it's all piano for me tonight!) Sam and Matt treat this tune differently. Sam's on the Live CD playing this and here he is again.

We finished up with an attempted singalong (not sure we did a very good job and certainly we did not sound like the Welsh Choir that Vince alluded to)

An encore 'Little Glass of Wine' and I still have a couple of lines of that song floating around in my head: "As soon as you learn that you won't live forever, you grow fond of the fruit of the vine..."

Thanks to Roger Mitchell for photos.

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