Simone & Girlfunkle Hold On album launch
w/ Salary, Leopard Lake, Grace Sanders
Saturday, March 24, 2018
Fans of local sweethearts Simone and Girlfunkle have been waiting five years for a follow up to their 2013 album Hurry, Harry. So it was no surprise a capacity crowd filled The Bird on Saturday night to celebrate the new album’s launch.
As people began to trickle in Grace Sanders started proceedings. The early arrivals were blessed with her stunning jazz vocals, backed only by electric guitar. Flickering candle light around the venue set the mood for swooning. Sanders’ whimsical lyrics fuelled by self-reflection and her unique perception of love on When I Need You and Vulnerable werethe perfect formula for captivating the audience.
Leopard Lake may be a relatively new group, but with such pedigree musicians (Storm Wyness, Sam Ford, Mike Jelinek) their set was always going to be amazing. Sam Ford’s unique insights as a producer and Storm Wyness’ mesmeric vocals were a defining point as their sound was crystal clear and polished. Totally atmospheric, the banter was at a minimum but the vibe was high. Storm is so self-assured on stage, that despite actually standing very still the whole set, she was mesmerising. From the hypnotic and alluring arpeggios on Thinking of You to charismatic bite on Further, this is a band you go to listen to, not to watch, and that is very cool.
On the extreme other end of the spectrum, Salary are a spectacle to behold. Every single member (and there’s a lot of them) is a character. It’s hard to look away! Consuming the stage like a patient ocean, they know no bounds when it comes to showing what true camaraderie and greatness can be, brought together through the beauty of music. Opening with the soft-swelling, ambient track Beyond, frontman Sean Gorman showcased his playful nature, making use of auto-tune vocal processing as he danced on his toes in the heat of the moment. The powerful, swooning vocals on Sandy City tied in with the vintage tones of the violin and mandolin. The driving basslines of Cameron J Hanush on One Friday I Was Bored blew the energy into the stratosphere and total euphoria consumed the room.
Without further ado, the last leg of the night arrived all too soon. Bridget Turner of six-piece, Simone & Girlfunkle, couldn’t seem to curb her enthusiasm; she had undeniable joy written all over her face.
Sparkling onto stage (literally! Heather Bex was draped in sequins), Simone & Girlfunkle opened with the luscious Fight On. These women can harmonise so perfectly it sends shivers through the crowd. Known as one of the friendliest bands in Perth, their stage presence is so joyful they always look thrilled to be performing, and tell the crowd as much. Not to mention copies of the new album were available at the front of the stage with a pay as you feel donation box. How nice is that?
The band played new album Hold On in its entirety, which runs the gamut of folk to pop and back again, plus old favourites like Summer Rain and Secret were thrown in for good measure (and singalongs). Sarah Tout brought her smouldering intensity to the fore with the track Push It Down, exerting all her energy into fierce drumming. Heather Bex transitioned seamlessly between melodica, clarinet and vocals. And Bridget Turner was, as always, humorous and entertaining. Not to forget Daniel Grant, Vaughan Davies, and Michael Cassells, who are each equally as talented.
Favourites like percussion filled track Snake, and Gary Song about Bridget’s dearly departed cat, were included in the set. Then stripped back songs like Belly, which enveloped the audience in stunning harmonies, really showcased their vocal talents. The climax of the set was also their last song, and most recent single Girls. Simone & Girlfunkle fans may have recognised former member Erin who joined them on stage to sing, as did Leopard Lake’s Storm. Despite it being the first time they’d played it live, this anthem of female empowerment was a hit and perfect ending to another wonderful Simone & Girfunkle gig. The lyrics say “girls on top” and that is exactly where Simone & Girlfunkle find themselves.
Photos by Alan Holbrook’s Grassy Knoll