SAVANAH AND THE STRAYS
INDIAN OCEAN HOTEL, 20 JULY
Photos by Caris Morcombe
Savanah and the Strays are a band that could go one of two ways, so when they chose to open their set at their recent album launch with a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Don’t Stop’, it was, to say the least, a bold move. One of those Sliding Doors moments.
“…that’s the point about fronting a band, people are meant to pay attention to you. Solomon knows this simple truth and lives it incredibly well.”
Let me explain. You know the film (maybe you don’t), where the course of the main character’s life is determined by whether she catches a train home or not. As a movie it was pretty average, but the concept of life hinging on those little moments of quantum mechanics, when two or more possibilities can coexist until you make your choice, that’s endlessly intriguing.
Choices are important. They influence what comes next and, in the case of Savanah and the Strays, they set up expectations. Knocking out a rocking cover of a classic, FM-radio friendly, ‘70s mega hit to open your live set at an album launch, now that’s a bold statement, because it colours everything. What if the rest of the set doesn’t live up to the promise? What if the originals don’t measure up?
It was a great cover, instantly drawing in the packed audience, turning up the temperature in the venue. If the crowd wasn’t already on their side, Savanah and the Strays now had them right where they wanted them.
But I was worried.
Needlessly, as it turned out, because what followed was a rollicking hour of good-time, original country blues rock songs, with a big nod to the ‘70s, that were at least the equal of the opener. Phew!
But then, not Phew, really. This is a band that knows their business and has the boldness in them to take a risk, to make a statement, and the self-confidence to pull it off. Led by Savanah Solomon, who has a sweet, gritty voice and, when it’s called for, an angry snarl, this is a band that has it all. They’ve got the songs, they’ve got the performance chops, they’ve got the on-stage presence and they’ve got the heart.
As front for the band Solomon has pretty much everything required for the job. She holds the audience in her thrall and can draw them in close, a mighty feat with fickle Perth audiences who usually prefer to skulk at the back of venues. There was no room for that this evening, anyway, as the venue was packed and the crowd stayed right to the very last note of the last song in the set.
Solomon has the rare capacity to sing and perform while also playing guitar, without seeming like she’s hiding behind her instrument. Perth has far too many bands with reluctant fronts who look like they don’t really want to be the centre of attention. Solomon is not one of them. And that’s the point about fronting a band, people are meant to pay attention to you. Solomon knows this simple truth and lives it incredibly well.
And with songs like the title track from their album, Salt Of The Earth, a song like to make you cry and your heart burst with pride all at the same time, they have a wide open road ahead of them. If they keep being bold there’s no doubt they’ll always stay on the right side of the vagaries of quantum mechanics.
I left the venue this evening smiling and singing Savanah and the Strays’ tunes in my head. I woke up the next morning doing the same. It was a good feeling that stayed with me for quite some time and returns every time I play the album. I’m in love with this band and I can’t wait to see what they do next.
Vaughan says hi, too 🙂