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The Bamboos shook the foundations of the Corner using pure funky delight

As Ferguson mentioned on stage, The Bamboos have been performing for 18 years – it feels like the band is enjoying perhaps one of their best career chapters yet.

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David Harris

There’s no doubt about it, The Bamboos aren’t simply ‘a band’. They’re a force. The packed out bandroom at The Corner Hotel was testament to the love Melbourne has for the nine-piece, and through the course of their stomping headline set, The Bamboos reciprocated brilliantly.

With their eighth studio album, The Bamboos haven’t lost any of their rich funk rhythms or knack for permeating an otherwise ‘mainstream’ pop environment. Their music comes drenched in quality, and as a live act The Bamboos are only getting stronger. Led confidently as ever by Lance Ferguson, the crowd was encouraged to let loose early on. His Gibson shining as brightly as his sequined blazer, Ferguson ensured that each Bamboo had their time in the spotlight, which the crowd eagerly lapped up.

The Bamboos experience is nothing without the mega-presence of vocalist Kylie Auldist. Easily one of the best voices in the country, Auldist was on form for their hometown show. Whether it was the deep grooves of ‘I Don’t Wanna Stop’, the surging emotional punches of ‘The Wilhelm Scream’ or the heaving disco vibes of ‘Night Time People’; Auldist had everyone’s attention centred squarely on her no matter what facet of her powerful vocal range she engaged in.

Graeme Pogson, Phil Binotto, Yuri Pavlinov and Dan Mougerman to the right produced excellent rhythm and percussion throughout, Pogson in particular a highlight to watch. A small handful of opportunities were granted for the drummer to take more than two breaths and wipe sweat from his forehead, but for the most part his drumming pace remained relentless and tight. On the other side of the stage, Ross Irwin, Phil Noy and Damon Grant held it down on horns, their sounds captivating the crowd, matching Auldist’s bombastic vocals note for note. Swapping the trumpet for microphone, Irwin’s rendition of The Easybeats’ ‘I’ll Make You Happy’ (originally covered by Montaigne) was a surprise; doubling down on the chorus with Auldist, Irwin’s moment of unleashed chaos earned some of the biggest cheers of the night.

Night Time People was delivered with great airs of fun and vibrancy, showcasing the band’s tight dynamic and ability to switch between musical moods. ‘Stranded’ and ‘Lit Up’ proved particular highlights, while ‘Salvage Rites’ harked back to the earlier Bamboos material that first got my attention around the Rawville era in 2007. 

By the end of The Bamboos’ set, the diverse crowd was primed for kick-ons and the bill accommodated, with funk DJs spinning vinyl post-set. As the first night of their national tour, Melbourne set the bar for the shows to come. As Ferguson mentioned on stage, The Bamboos have been performing for 18 years – it feels like the band is enjoying perhaps one of their best career chapters yet.

Highlight: The band’s dynamic in full flight during their performance of ‘Lit Up’.

Lowlight: A rare gig without many lowlights.

Crowd Favourite: Ross Irwin’s turn on the mic for the band’s cover of ‘I’ll Make You Happy’.