Eskimo Joe at Wanneroo Showgrounds

– by Tom Munday

Eskimo Joe, Saturday 8 November at Wanneroo Showgrounds

Supported by: Jake and the Cowboys, Simone and Girlfunkle, The Swoops, Boom! Bap! Pow!

The sun beamed down onto the humble and effervescent Wanneroo Showgrounds last Saturday night. Walking into the event, Matthew Picken (Colosoul cameraman) and I were instantly cleansed by the sheer spectacle. Bringing the entire community together, sunshine bounced off the bright, green grass onto overpriced food vendors, circus activities, and the notorious rock-climbing wall. As families, couples, and awe-struck reviewers waltzed into the grounds, we were reminded of the joys an Australian Summer could deliver. Bolstered by deckchairs, picnic rugs, and happy faces, the cheerful ambiance brought a smile to this critic’s face.

From the outset, the musical acts delivered on everything the event had promised. Shaking up the settled-in crowd, local blues-roots smash Jake and the Cowboys carried the daunting task of kicking off the event. Jumping into their set, their spirited rendition of Bond tapped succinctly into the flashy, summery vibe. Their up-beat tempo and spirited dynamic, bolstered by a manic stage presence, cemented them as an ensemble to watch out for come 2015. Cheerfully saluting the crowd, the enthusiasm connected instantly with the masses. Their hits, from Basement to She Said to Brotherman, were delivered with flawless charm and full-blown personality. Lead vocalist/guitarist Jarred Wall’s jaunty, unique vocals turned heads across the venue. Similarly to Aussie outfits El Moth and Better than the Wizards, their fun acoustic jaunts and eclectic rhythms rank amongst the best of Australian blues and roots.

With the crowd keeping to themselves, the next group had the similarly daunting task of being as good or better than the first ensemble. Stepping wistfully up onto the stage, lively folk and roots troupe Simone and Girlfunkle brought positive vibes and unbridled enthusiasm to the event. Failing to connect with the talkative audience (not their fault), the group got immediately into their eclectic set. Aiming away from the surrounding bands’ tastes, their opening song,

Summer Rain, projected whimsical, light-hearted tones across the suburbs. Leaving this critic in that kooky state between numbness and joy, their soothing harmonies instantly won me over. After several awkward salutes to the crowd, the troupe tackled, more like whimsically jostled with, pithy and heartwarming tracks including Blown into the Wind, and Secret. Showing off bubbly personalities and charming melodies, this three-girl-lead/guitarist ensemble whisked us into their bubbly, love-drenched universe.

So, with Jake and the Cowboys and Simone & Girlfunkle setting the mood and catching the eye, how was the next act going to top them? Short answer: by being one of WA’s most inspirational and energetic talents. Morgan Bain, having supported Aussie lynchpins from Cold Chisel to Pete Murray, is an award-worthy talent, fascinating solo act, and honourary son of Wanneroo. Fitting into Perth’s festival vibe, Bain and new band The Swoops paid tribute to his home suburb and the community. Stepping out on stage, the larrikin took videos of the bustling crowd. Leaping straight into his first track, the steadily building beat drew many spectators in. establishing his blues/rock/folk aura; the singer/songwriter’s voice rattled the ear-drums. This skinny, long-haired man delivered the vocals worthy of some of soul’s biggest names. Behind the keyboards, his manic persona and raw energy shone through every searing note.  Sporting huge sunglasses and thin jacket, his bright character seeped through every action, beat, and breath. As the sun hurriedly set behind the Eucalyptus trees and stage, Bain and co. unleashed several monstrously entertaining hits. Somebody Else, featuring an Eric Clapton/Carlos Santana inspired guitar solo, delivered uncompromising flourishes. Despite the odd technical mishap, Bain’s witty personality kept it moving. Spicing up his rock/alternative recipe with a touch of acoustic guitar, his talents are unparalleled in local music today. His multi-layered set – featuring hits including I Think I’ve Got You, In the Middle, Master of Mind, and Eternal Magic– immersed us in relentless power.

As the 13 000-strong crowd grew larger, the mosh pit became a smorgasbord of music lovers, Eskimo Joe fanatics, families, couples, drunkards, and everything in between. The final support act, Boom! Bap! Pow!, hit the stage with a spirited rendition of Dick Dale’s smash hit Misirlou. Fitting the summery, laid-back vibe, the group’s sexy dynamic and multi-layered ensemble resonated immediately. Screeching from the outset, lead vocalist Novac Bull, stunned the crowd with her full-blooded energy and immaculate vocals. Decked out in checkered, black and gold hot pants, jet-black top, and bowler hat, the front-woman became a fearsome forced to be reckoned with. Matching her male counterparts at the event, Bull adds the exclamation marks to the band’s onomatopoeia-laden title. The jazz/blues ensemble, simmering under multi-coloured lighting flourishes, stirred the crowd with a smooth, sultry set. Forming an atmospheric presence, their magnetic saxophone and guitar solos amplify their blood-sweat-and-tears approach. Blaring So Heavy and Suit into the outlying suburbs, the group proved almost too much for the unsuspecting crowd.

The audience, hitting yawn mode by 8:30pm mark, had made to the biggest and best part of the night. Introduced by City of Wanneroo Mayor Tracey Roberts, the notorious Fremantle group was tasked with pleasing the local masses. Having suffered through minor technical difficulties, the crowd came close to rioting over that lost 10-or-so minutes. Blitzing everyone’s frustrations, Eskimo Joe delivered a star-making entrance onto the stage. Shrouded in smoke, a handful of silhouettes clicked into place as the audience shrieked and screeched in excitement. Launching into hit track Comfort, the pop-rock track made for an odd first song. Unable to follow the words, the crowd resorted to immense cheering and mesmerized stares. Strutting across the stage, Eskimo Joe front-man Kav Temperley strutted across the crowd with the gusto and bravado of Mick Jagger. Sporting a bowtie, white shirt, and black trench-coat, his signature style seeped through into each pulsating track.

Launching into Sarah, the uber-successful WA band made an instant connection with the crowd. The second the lyric: “Sarah, won’t you tell me your name?” kick into the gear, each audience member’s ears pricked up with excitement. As green and yellow lights flashed across the arena, Kav’s soulful, signature vocals rang lovingly across the show-grounds. Showcasing their mainstreaming appeal, ‘New York’ became a pop-rock extravaganza fit for the Kings of Australian music. Their short-but-sweet set, delivering a bevy of momentous commercial hits and understated efforts, showcased the best of Freo’s brightest. Joe’s words, landing with fans and Wanneroo-ers/ites/ins alike, brought this community together. Kav, displaying his likable attitude, cockerel strut, and gelled-up hair, showed off his immense charismatic stage presence. Chatting with the loving crowd, his witty personality and larger-than-life persona worked over the masses.

Chatting with the audience about the band’s humble origins, time in the spotlight, and their mark on the music industry, the band laid it out on the stage. Jumping into Breaking Up, the group displayed their immense stage experience. Splicing lyrics from New York into Breaking Up, the surprises came thick and fast throughout. Throwing Echo at the rambunctious audience, the band’s true-blue stage presence cemented their immense status. Delving into a shred of their personal journey, Kav regaled us with a story of one particular hit. Affected by the 2005 London Bombings, London Bombs comes from a special place in Kav’s heart. Switching the tempo, he then made it his mission of solidifying the perfect “first concert experience” for the younger crowd. Delving into Not Alone, the front-man leaped into the mosh pit. Sending Wanneroo camera-phone crazy, The Sad Song (The Sexy Song) switched gears to a solid Justin Timberlake vibe.

Establishing the band’s talents and range, it seemed like there was nothing Kav and co. couldn’t do! Bolstered by a fun sense of humour, their renditions of Older than You, Foreign Land, and Smoke flowed seamlessly. Switching from electric guitar to acoustic, Got What You Need became an uplifting experience worth savouring. As “you can’t always get what you want” rang across the show-grounds, the crowd went berserk. Waving his hands in specific sequence, Kav’s became the conductor needed to control the masses. As Black Fingernails, Red Wine kicked up, the crowd voiced their love for Joe in unison. Savouring the love, Kav and co. ended their flawless set with catchy, vibrant hits Love Is A Drug and From the Sea. As the latter drew to a close, Kav even led the crowd in a Wolf of Wall Street style chant. It’s certain, the Fremantle-born troupe – and the aforementioned support acts – now belong to the quaint suburb of Wanneroo.

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