An absolute corker of an evening. The venue was packed with enthusiastic fans and friends and the artists were in fine voice accompanied by excellent musicians.
Rose Parker opened the show, she was accompanied by a raffish looking Al James who played a mean lead guitar. Parker opened with Wayfaring Stranger. She has a strong, true voice and was simply paired with the sharpest of lead guitarists. A couple of her own songs followed. I found The Sycamore Tree rather too long and too varied in its styles. Don’t Change was a lovely ode to a lover, followed by Mission Bell. A worthy support act for Mama Red and the Dark Blues.
Mama Red, better known as vocalist Harry de Luxe has been around the traps for quite a while.
Melanie Bainbridge is composer, lyricist and backing vocals. The aforementioned Al James on guitar (with 3 sets he put in a solid night’s work!), Gregory Brenton drums and percussion, the fabulous Paul Gioia on keyboards and Therese Cruise on backing vocals, we were in safe and stylish hands.
Their infectious enthusiasm and mutual respect for each other’s tasty solo riffs was a delight to see. Glamorous red-head chanteuse, Mama Red kicked off the proceedings with the first of several raunchy invitations with Come by Sunday. This talented group were an absolute delight to witness. The arrangements were excellent whether they were originals or covers. Mama Red’s delivery covered gutsy blues to country to pop with a touch of gospel with ease.
Two hour long sets contain too many numbers to name. Some outstanding works were a gorgeous Too Little Too Late with delicious vocal blending by the 2 backing singers underscoring Mama Red's narrative, a moving end of life tribute to a partner entitled You Were Mine penned by Bainbridge and some delightfully vengeful breakup songs involving shotgun threats delivered with vigour and panache by Mama Red.
The 2nd set kicked off with a chugging version of Hey Bartender. Gospel classic Wade in the Water set the crowd alight and another shotgun threat lead to the album title Wages of Sin.
I loved A Game That Two Can Play and there was a poignant number song acapella by the three women, Angel Please. The final number, although Mama Red and the band did squeeze in a generous couple of encores, was a song from their musical theatre show A Saucy Little Secret – the nautically themed Lighthouse. It explored the theme of having a beacon of light in one’s life to bring them safely into shore. An unexpected treat was the 8 piece choir of singers who grouped by the stage with wonderful blending of voices which added another rich dimension to the work.
The crowd left supremely satisfied, eagerly awaiting the chance to download songs soon and perhaps purchase a limited vinyl edition of Wages of Sin hopefully out by Christmas.
Mama Red & the Dark Blues
The Wages of Sin – Album Launch
Venue: The Ellington Jazz Club | 191 Beaufort St Perth
Date: 1 July 2016