Riley Pearce + The Julius Lutero Band – Northbridge Piazza (Sunday Sounds)

-by Tom Munday

Northbridge Piazza’s Sunday Sounds is the latest City of Perth Campaign drawing people to the pub-and-club hotspot, supports some of Western Australia’s most entertaining musicians. This Autumn Season, the free, live events have taken a battering from our monstrous weather conditions. June 28th’s concert, rounding out this season’s spattering of insatiable performances, capped it off with two likeable acts and a solid turnout.

At first, the event seemed destined to the written off as an uninspiring, awkward experience. Though one of Northbridge’s most pleasant places, the lawn and umbrella area, first lured in only a handful of family groups and couples. Scarborough musician Riley Pearce, one of our live music scene’s most promising and engaging live performers, stepped onstage. Dodging reams of wires and instruments, the twenty-something tentatively pulled himself towards the microphone to a mild applause.

Pearce’s set delivered a fair share of new and old tracks, giving fans and newcomers plenty to chat about during and after the event. From his opening number onwards, small groups began whispering enthusiastically between one another. “Who is he, again? He’s really good!” has a chance of becoming his new tagline. His first two renditions showcased only one slither of his immeasurable guile and talent. His second song, ‘The Long Road,’ became a crowd favourite. In addition, his raw, earthy performance of ‘Brave’ elicited a strong, rowdy response from picnickers and passers by.

DSC_0163The technical difficulties between performer, equipment, and photographer, continued, with Pearce’s soft voice passing listlessly through the wind as he discussed his set list. His mumble-core persona set a specific, undeniable tone for the remaining handful of renditions. Using the sit-down guitar, his performance of Circles suited the laid-back nature of the event. He, currently working on his second album, put his name out there with aplomb. Roskie, sporting a nuanced tone compared to other tracks, is a lively indie-folk romp. Rounding his set out ‘Seasick,’ ‘Outside the Lines,’ and Phoenix cover ‘Lisztomania,’ Pearce became a hard act to follow.

Between Pearce and The Julius Lutero Band, Northbridge-goers began to circle around the warm, welcoming venue. Lured towards the aptly named Super Screen and surrounding restaurants, people were eager to witness some of WA’s brightest musicians elevating the already sparking atmosphere. The Julius Lutero Band approached the stage area with a mild swagger. The band immediately displayed its enthusiasm and affection for Perth audiences. Adapting quickly to the stage format, Lutero and co. dived into an array of effervescent renditions.

Like with Pearce, the crowd was hurriedly drawn into the ensemble’s soothing pop-rock style. Children ran around as couples snuggled and beanbags were thrown across the bright, green grass. Their second track, ‘Hazy Day’, unleashed the group’s penchant for silky electric guitar riffs and scintillating rhythms. Lotero, being the lead singer and guitarist, displayed his impeccable range and talents throughout the first few tracks. The following rendition, ‘Rise and Shine,’ brought the group’s varying tastes and style together. The crowd, fitting in with the Sunday-arvo vibe warmed to the track’s 70s-style pop-rock sound.

The performance gave bassist Billy Muchtar and drummer Elliot Jebb time to shimmer in the sunlight. Muchtar’s bass gave each track a heart-thumping rumble. While Jebb’s thumping, pulsating stylings heightened each track’s intensity. As the temperature rose above the mid-twenties, Lutero’s charisma and energy elevated the crowd’s enthusiasm levels. The band delivered a refreshing blend of original tracks and well-known covers, performing Jimi Hendrix’s Little Wing and Louis Armstrong’s What A Wonderful World. The cheerful crowd certainly got on board, agreeing with Lutero’s “Winter Wonderland” declaration.

Like the preceding performance, technical difficulties and communication quarrels made for several awkward interludes. The band, turning the event into jam session to cover up any hiccups, knew exactly how to keep momentum going. Lutero’s sharp, unique vocals and spirited guitar solos got heads bopping and toes tapping. Tracks including ‘The Space We Are’ showcased the band’s fusion of pop-funk and roots rock. Concluding with happy-go-lucky number ‘Doin’ Fine,’ Lutero and co. gave Sunday Sounds the warm send off it needed and deserved. Kids and couples danced emphatically to the tracks’ ascending tempo and charming melody. This coming September-November season can’t come quick enough.

Photo Credit: Tom Munday

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