|Written by Anna Locke|
|Friday, 17 February 2012 17:30|
Rag time hillbilly country came to the Perth Festival Gardens on Thursday the 16 Feb when Melbourne's Suitcase Royale rocked into town. A large and animated audience filled the couches, cabaret tables and dance floor as the three piece rag 'n' bone ensemble played songs from their self titled album and stage shows.
Comprised of Joseph O'Farrell (drums), Miles O'Neil (guitar) and Glen Walton (Bass), Suitcase Royale formed in 2004 when the trio were at university. Originally just a band, they produced their first theatre show as part of the 2004 Melbourne Fringe Festival (apparently as a favour), and came away with the Fringe Performance Award. It was an auspicious start for the threesome who has since toured six shows to Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane Fringe Festivals, the Canadian Fringe circuit, and Edinburgh Festival.
For the 2012 Perth International Arts Festival they return to Perth "just" as a band, although Jonathan Holloway take note; they were so enthusiastically received there is a ready made audience for their theatre shows when they come back. They filled the Festival Gardens with their country bluesy songs about being stuck in elevators, travelling, love, gambling, zombie wombats, and a Datsun 120.
The three men are obviously musically talented, shown through the impressive set of original songs, with catchy lyrics and even catchier tunes. The performance was only one song in when a couple got up on the dance floor at the front and started dancing. Three songs in, there were three couples, and the dance floor became the place to be by the end of the night, with half the audience (myself included), having a good old hoedown.
The trio used their talents to play different instruments throughout the night. O'Neil alternated between a standard guitar and a banjo, O'Farrell gave the audience a brilliant solo on the kazoo (as well as outstanding drum work), whilst Walton switched between a double bass and electronic bass, in addition to the harmonica.
There were a number of songs where Walton took the lead and sung; played the harmonica and the bass, which impressed the audience immensely. In fact, so enthusiastically was he playing during a song about gambling (dedicated to Brisbane, where the band spend their Friday nights playing at the Powerhouse), that he snapped a string on the electric bass and had to switch back to the double. It was a testament to their skill that after an initial falter, they just carried on.
Walton's and O'Neil's voices are pure soul. Deep, resonate, with a little bit of gravel thrown in. Although hard to decipher words occasionally, the emotions and intent were there in spades. All three had a good banter with the audience, telling us about their songs and where they came from, about themselves and making us laugh. By the end of the 90 minute performance, I felt like I could have a beer with these men (in a suitably "countrified" pub of course).
The Suitcase Royale is a talented trio, and hopefully Perth will be seeing them again soon. I for one can't wait for the next toe tapping, knee slapping shindig with them. Yee-hah!
2012 Perth International Arts Festival
The Suitcase Royale
Venue: Festival Gardens
Date: 16 Feb, 2012
Tickets: Standard $42.50, Friends $39.50
Comments (0)Subscribe to this comment's feed