Riverboats Music Festival @ Murray River
The Riverboats Music Festival in Echuca played host to a sterling lineup of top-notch talent in a truly picturesque setting. Vika and Linda Bull, backed by a tight and vibrant band that featured the fretboard wizardry of the ubiquitous Ashley Naylor, impressed the jiving Friday night revelers with their robust vocal presence and assured command of the stage. With the nuclear-strength sunlight inspiring an early trip to the bar, we kick started our Saturday with Ryan Meeking’s haunting vocals which conjured pleasant memories of the much-missed Jeff Buckley.
Lanie Lane, who possesses a wonderfully smoky voice, opened her largely solo set with the beautiful To The Horses. Her sweet ode to her beloved guitar Betty Baby, the sultry That’s What You Get and the rockin’ Bang Bang showcased her mastery of soulful alt-country and spicy rockabilly. A slimline Mick Thomas led his high-energy Roving Commission through a fun set brimming with homegrown folk rock. The Weddings Parties Anything classic Knockbacks In Halifax generated some good-natured pogoing from the excited audience while the band’s sensitive interpretation of The Triffids’ poignant Wide Open Road worked a treat. Mark Seymour got us all singing during a muscular set studded with Hunters and Collectors gems and nuggets from his excellent solo work.
The Bamboos were a funktastic delight as they dished up mountain-moving rhythms, trippy wa-wa, powerhouse vocals, a pumpin’ brass section and the occasional cheeky flute solo. The Bride Stripped Back, a trio hailing from Bendigo, generated an enjoyable and chilled vibe punctuated with moody cello that seemed an ideal entrée to Sunday’s proceedings. The highlight of the entire weekend was Clairy Browne & The Bangin’ Rackettes! You know that you are in the presence of greatness when you experience an actual rather than metaphorical “goose bump moment.” The fact that this happened to me twice during the band’s set gives you an indication of their visceral impact. Browne, who looks at times like a youthful Wanda Jackson, exuded effortless cool and joined her animated backing singers in wonderfully retro dance moves while the band pumped out a hot mix of soul, funk and 60’s style girl group vibes.
Tex Perkins’ deep and stormy vocals were in fine form as he led The Band of Gold through low-key slow-burning country tunes and that long-lost eerie Beasts of Bourbon classic Psycho. We wrapped up our fantastic Riverboats weekend with the comedic Colin Hay, who sung crowd-pleasers such as Down Under and Who Can It be Now whilst also showcasing less familiar yet equally enjoyable songs from his lengthy solo career.
BY GRAHAM BLACKLEY
LOVED: Clairy Browne’s shivers-down-the-spine rendition of Cher’s Bang Bang.
HATED: The face-melting heat on Saturday!
DRANK: Gin and tonic.