with His Merry Men, Money for Rope

His Merry Men were probably awesome, but this reviewer was too busy dancing with an old man to ‘Hot Stuff’ in the nearby Kalibar to hear, and was unable to receive any of the awesomeness.

What can be known, however, is that Money For Rope were rockin’. Lead singer Jules McKenzie played the whole gig with his leg in a cast, seated on a stool. He also pulled off a mini sax solo while seated. The bass guitar was the size of a juggernaut, and the volume of hair present on stage was equal to the volume of the rocking. Their formula went like this: swagger rockin’, straight up rockin’, some more swagger rockin’, and then finally riding a runaway rock and roll train into the night, with their surf-garage echoing in the ears of those exposed to the large-scale rockin’ afoot.

Saskwatch, despite their name, were less hairy, but brought their bunch of instant-classic soul vibes and pop-minded tunes that were trumpet-blowing, thigh-slappin’, drink-spilling, hallelujah-shouting, hip-shaking goodness.

It was impossible to feel alone as the band kicked off with their new single ‘I Get Lonely’, bringing the whole crowd down to the dance floor, and ready for the follow-up bright guitar work of the burning ‘Only One’. Lead singer Nkechi Anele was a true soul diva, moving parts of her body this author didn’t know could be moved, while the receptive crowd flung around whatever parts of their bodies they were able to. It should be mentioned however, that they did a fine job, with the exception of some tall boyfriends whose idea of a dance move was to progressively lean on each person around them. You know the kind.

Toning it down a notch then, to give space to the horn flourishes and catchy keys on ‘Don’t Wanna Try’ and the lovely ‘Two Hearts’, after two possibly new songs, Anele stepped off the stage for the instrumental segment of the night. The horn section leapt forwards onto the foldbacks to deliver their raucous instrumental cover of Kylie Minogue's 'Kids', resulting in the closest combination you can have between a mosh and a dance breakdown. Only at a soul gig.

Anele returned to the stage to kick things off again with 'Keep Me', and another heart-melting new song, 'Nothing For You'. But the real slow-burn was still to come. After picking it up again with 'Second Best', 'Alone', yet another currently unreleased track, the band unwound down into their most beautiful soul ballad so far, with a tender solo from Anele at the end, with a beat even a grunt from Timbaland couldn't improve more.

Finishing with a swag of new material, including the energetic, jazz-hands ready, 'Hands', and their most well known hip-swinging track, 'Your Love', the band poured with sweat as the audience twisted away into the final moments. They were harangued back on to the stage for an encore, before the dance masters stepped down one last time from the stage, to return to their forest den, and the party in the woods.
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