The Steve Hensby Band w/ Mark Turner @ Lyric’s Underground, June 12, 2020
When the entire planet got locked down over coronavirus, for many of us, our whole world was shattered as live music was cruelly taken away from us. Sure, there are live streams from artists everywhere (and for that, we are eternally grateful) but for those of us that live and breathe music, it just wasn’t enough to chase away the blues.
There really isn’t anything like the feeling of heading to a show to see a band that you love and mingle with strangers who are all there for the same thing. You could argue that sporting events are similar but there is always that underlying rivalry as people root for different teams that you don’t have at a music event.
When it was announced that Western Australia would pretty much be the first place in the world where music venues could open, albeit seated and for 100 people only, I am certain that if you listened really hard, you would have heard the collective sigh of relief from music lovers across the state – a sign that life was slowly going back to normal.
Of course, it was something that I jumped onto as soon as I could and while there is still a little bit of fear there after having to isolate for several months, that fear pretty much dissipated the minute I walked into Lyric’s Underground in Maylands. Just seeing people sitting down with drinks in their hand and smiles on their faces and anticipation in their eyes was enough to bring that rush of excitement back.
Mark Turner had the honour of opening up the night and immediately blew everyone away. He has an amazing voice which started very bluesy with Slow Down and moving easily into soul with Relax – showing us just how versatile his music is; with a little help from Kane Shaw on the double bass.
The whole vibe of Lyric’s Underground along with Turner and Shaw on stage had the effect of transporting you to a different time in history and leaving all your troubles behind. This was especially the case with One Song and Yes I Do.
Turner’s presence on stage radiated throughout the room and ensured everyone was thoroughly enjoying themselves. It takes a good song-writer to evoke what they want you to feel and it takes a brilliant song-writer to transport you to another place and Turner certainly achieved both.
I was at the bar when Steve Hensby’s band started but from where I was standing, the first thing that struck me was the bass vibrating through the floors and walls. A feeling that any music fan knows well and a feeling that is currently missed by far too many people around the world – especially when that bass is created by a 9-piece band.
They started with Modern Music for Modern People, Revolution Against The Bland and Ship In Ship Out. A quick glance around the room confirms that I am not the only one struggling with the whole sit-down concept. The ‘problem’ with Steve Hensby and band is that their music is made for dancing and we were all pretty sure that dancing is not allowed at this point in time.
If, for some strange reason, you haven’t seen Hensby before – either in The Steve Hensby Band or Tracksuit, one would have to ask what rock you’ve been hiding under. He’s a long time staple in the Perth music scene and really knows how to work the stage and the audience.
He surrounds himself with just as equally talented musicians in order to put on the best show that he possibly can. Special mention must be made to Elysia Murphy with her stunning voice as she took over lead for Don’t Let The Door Hit You and Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (Marvin Gaye). Just before they finished the first set, Hensby explained that the new album was a concept album based on the new single’s character – Mista Twista – a barber who is actually terrible at cutting hair yet very popular because of his wonderful character and even better stories.
The Steve Hensby Band is one of those bands that are almost impossible to pigeonhole into one particular genre. Hensby moves in and out of genres from jazz to rock to blues to psychedelic rock bending them to his will and weaving them as expertly as the Greek god Clotho spins the lives of human souls.
The second set was just as good as the first – if not better for reasons that will become obvious soon. They played Scarlet Night Outro, Loving Heart, Chase The Sun and of course, Mista Twista. It’s funky, swinging, soul music and provokes images of 1920’s speakeasies and flappers dancing on stage. This imagery is even more appropriate once you have also watched the film clip. They finished the set with Elysia Murphy singing Naf Naf in French.
For their encore, Hensby came out for a Scottish sing-along. “This is never going to happen again but we are in this space to fuck it.” Hensby told the audience. His accent wasn’t half bad either and even though the audience did not attempt to do an accent, there’s something special about a whole room singing along. G.M.D.Y.K.A.A.C.D.C.S – the song that nearly got him killed in Kalgoorlie had everyone in stitches – especially when he screams out the line “Oi Mate! You fucken know any ACDC songs?”
The last song of the night, Cold Sweat, had people up and dancing. They couldn’t take it any longer and the need to dance outweighed any remaining fear that people had… well – that and a couple of drinks down the hatch of course… to be fair – they were dancing where their seats were so still obeying the new norm of the social distancing etiquette.
As far as first shows back go, this one was an absolute ripper and, for the first time ever, everyone there was so grateful that we live in the most isolated capital city in the world and that our government had taken the pandemic seriously when they did. Because of their actions and because of the actions of everyone in WA, we have live music back. It is probably a good thing that it’s seated for now as all those that like to dance/mosh/jump around have pretty much been sedentary over the last few months and it will stop many neck injuries as we all get back into shape!
Thanks to Mark Turner, The Steve Hensby Band, Lyric’s Underground and Sweet Mate Promotions for breathing life back into the city with music.