The Astor Lounge
Saturday, June 7, 2014
Ben Wilson and his vehicle Ralway Bell are building a reputation as big as the 10 gallon hat that graces his head. Wilson’s acoustic tales of Australiana were assisted by a pedal steel player to add flourishes of flavour to these roots based tunes. Ralway Bell look the part and have a solid set of tunes that make their slow burn approach well worth the effort.
Davey Craddock & The Spectacles have fleshed their numbers out to five in recent times but don’t take up much more space on the stage than they used to as a three piece. Craddock is a fine showman with his neat quiff and all the charm of a snake oil salesman in his delivery. Davey Craddock & The Spectacles used to be far more entrenched in bright country tunes with a pop bent, but these days are prone to penning slower paced tales than ebb and swell with distinction. Better Alone is one of the new breed that was a highlight.
Keep On Waiting was chock full of harmonies and is a tune that warrants far more attention than it has received to date. Special guests including former member Sean Pollard and Kate Kelly were welcomed to the stage to crowd around the microphone for a rousing take on The Band’s I Shall Be Released. Craddock took his default stance on his tip toes as he made his way through their latest single, the sprawling There Will Be Light. Bex Chilcott would later declare that Davey Craddock & The Spectacles are the best band in Perth. She wouldn’t be far off the mark.
There was little doubt as to who the punters had come to see as the room filled close to capacity as Ruby Boots took to their instruments. Bex Chilcott has gathered a polished group of musicians for when she takes her songs into their full band mode. After having been touring relentlessly of late, she was thrilled to be in front of a room of familiar faces to show off her latest recording. Ruby Boots strayed from convention by playing the songs from the EP fairly early in the set, with Solitude and Cola & Wine getting well deserved cheers.
Ruby Boots clearly have a loyal following who sang along to songs that are yet to be released and Chilcott accusing people of listening to her demos during sleepovers. There is a fondness for collaboration as Ruby Boots worked through tunes that were co-written with Jordie Lane and Middle Of Nowhere, which was penned with Vicki Simpson (The Waifs) when Chilcott spend some time rooming with her in her Utah home.
There is little doubt that Chilcott has a voice that is nothing short of a force of nature, whether she be delivering pop-infused country tunes or rawer material where she unleashes her Bonnie Raitt-like rasp. Ruby Boots aren’t the type of band that want to sit quietly in a niche indie market, with Chilcott looking to take a more well travelled path to the masses. There are moments where the lyrics lean a little heavy on clichés of the genre but they more than make up for it with the quality of the tune.
The banter was at times lewd in a way that Benny Hill would be proud of and fittingly Chilcott made her way away from the microphone to revel among the crowd on the dance floor to play Leonard Cohen’s racy Chelsea Hotel #2 to finish the evening. On this night it was clear that Ruby Boots are proof that hard work does indeed pay off.