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Jose James/Hiatus Kaiyote @ Perth Festival

Monday 25th February / presented by Andy Snelling

“Wow, how beautiful is this place?” quips Nai Palm humbly as she strolls out onto the Chevron Festival Gardens stage, the rest of her 7-piece band in tow. Her incredulity is warranted considering this is Hiatus Kaiyote’s first trip to WA and they’re doing it in support of New York jazz cat and wave-maker Jose James. It’s soon apparent that the band has not been offered something they don’t deserve though, delivering an incredibly tight and absorbing set to a steadily thickening audience.

If you haven’t heard the hype around this Melbourne band yet, get Youtube-ing; intricate melodies cascading around mind-boggling rhythms all backed up by a dynamic line-up of singers – the band could do no wrong. A tight rhythm section is integral to a decent live performance; you start to get into the realms of an amazing performance when bass and percussion seem to meld into one beast of an instrument. As this reviewer attempted to dance without looking like a new-born calve taking it’s first wobbly steps, Paul Bender and Perrin Moss seemed to change grooves on a whim, providing liquid bass lines and nuanced percussion respectively. Nai Palm’s seemingly effortless vocals burst forth from the P.A, at times, dropping jaws all over the place as she traded vocal blows with her back-up singers Jace, Loreli and Jay Jay, evoking comparisons with vocally-driven bands such as the Dirty Projectors, add to this a keyboardist dubbed the human arpeggiator and you have a band that will surely go from strength to strength.

A half-hour wait as the venue seemed to fill up to near capacity and Jose Jame’s band rolled on stage, laying down a slow Jazz groove as one particularly vocal audience member began to chant “Jose” repeatedly to the beat, much to the bemusement of those around him. Finally, the man people came to see made his way to the front of the stage and bowed, oozing all the cool you’d expect of a New York underground Jazz sensation, his honey-laced baritone vocals attaching themselves to the laid back grooves delivered via a grand piano, bass, drums and trumpet ensemble.

Jazz generally carries with it a penchant for improvisation, something which James and co. seemed to subscribe to heavily. As James continually delivered remixes of his vocals, stopping and starting, and giving the impression of a record player stuck in a groove, his band obliged, following his lead with effortless precision. Due recognition was paid to each of Jame’s band mates in turn as each took numerous opportunities to rip through solos. A particular highlight of the evening came when the band slowly dismantled it’s groove half-way through a song until all that was left was an arrangement of clapping and clicking into mics, rousing an emphatic audience response.

All in all a decent turn-out and another triumph for the Perth Festival line up for 2013. Bring on the rest!

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All live musical performances are included in our podcasts with the express permission of artists, who reserve all other rights in their music. All music used in our podcasts is licensed under an APRA Community Broadcasting license agreement.

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