Jess Locke @ The Oddfellow
w/ Salary, Tanaya Harper
Sunday, November 26, 2017
With many music punters heading to Gizzfest at Port Beach in Fremantle to get their Sunday arvo rock fix, it wasn’t the only event to check out decent local and national talent. A musical gem was waiting for those who were willing to head to the hole-in-the-wall bar The Oddfellow where songstress Jess Locke was stopping for the Perth stint of her national album tour. Supported by the likes of local musos Tanaya Harper and Salary, it was a night mixed with cascading instrumentation and evocative, brooding songwriting.
Arriving early to a somewhat sparsely populated venue, the start of the night really felt like a homely open mic session, with the dim lighting and small stage set about in the corner. The mood and lighting had set the mood for Belle’s Rapids singer Tanaya Harper’s set. Harper’s performance was just what you could have expected, armed solely with an electric guitar and her vocals, it brought about a ‘less is more’ sentiment to her music.
With the bright, slow twang of the guitar arpeggios accentuated by the dulcet emotions felt by her vocals and coupled with humorous quips between tune-ups it was a pretty satisfying set. Her performance coming to a head, Harper took to the audience to decide between a cover of Hole’s Malibu or a new song. The audience chose the latter, though they might never know what the cover of Malibu would be like.
Salary appeared to be a band that lay on the crossroads between alternative rock and jazz, in fact they made you want to throw musical labelling out the window entirely – however in a pleasant way. A mini, multi-instrumental orchestra consisting of brass, piano, violin and drums and so much more, the band certainly packed a punch. They really sold themselves at the points were the vocals of Sean Gorman lined up and cascaded with the violins and brass to let open a torrid wave emotionally, audible energy compelling even the punters at the back to get up and dance. Salary’s music was perfectly encapsulated by the movement of the crowd and punters: chaotic, frenetic and improvisational.
When the time came for Jess Locke to perform, the crowd surprisingly maintained an exciting energy after Salary’s set. With a few of the looser punters dancing around to Locke’s guitar-pop and soaking in the music, there was something distinctly consistent about Locke’s set. With lyrical elements of Leonard Cohen echoing across the venue, there was a sombre delight to be felt from Locke’s live presence. Whether it’s the honesty in her lyrical content, or nods to rock and roll from her live band, each song flowed neatly unto the other and at no point did the set feel disjointed or calamitous. Playing popular songs off her album like Bitter/Better and Universe, the night showed even when just armed with a voice and a guitar, artists like Jess Locke can easily still sweep punters away.
Photos by Allan Holbrook