Louise occupied most of the first half and played remarkably well. Appearing solo, she made extensive use of the pedals on her looping station to lay down bass figures and rhythmic backing at the beginning of most tunes, but her adept finger-work was the feature, as one would expect when guitars are in focus.
She opened on her electric hollow-body six-string with the funky ‘(Ain’t Gonna Be) Love’s Fool’. It was much in the vein of Stevie Wonder songs, though it started with a hefty looped beat before wah-wah embellishments and a strong percussive element were added — an impressive way to kick off.
Dedicated to “amazing mums”, the contrasting ‘Admirable Woman’ was offered in a slow and warm melodic mode. It would have been better without repeated lyrical mispronunciations, but the playing was very satisfying, nonetheless.
A four-string acoustic employed on the next track emphasised drone and built into a pleasing groove, before Louise picked up her six-string acoustic for ‘One Man’, a song she said was “at men’s expense”. It was clever and inclusive humour with a Tony-Joe White Southern feel to the rhythm. Next, the raw ‘Reeperbahn Blues’ was laid over a T-Rex style backbeat and showed her skills with the slide before she closed with a crescendo on ‘Individual’. Her credentials as an internationally sought guitarist seem well-based.
Joe Camilleri, with 50 albums to his credit, has moved across zydeco, cajun, R&B, soul and other music since the ‘70s, notably as Jo Jo Zep (a play on his name, Joseph) and then with the much-varied line-ups of The Black Sorrows. The five-piece Sorrows were welcomed noisily to the stage and after a little Camilleri banter began with ‘Wednesday’s Child’ from the latest album, Saint George’s Road. It was nicely moody but not a stand-out, lacking the expected initial performance punch.
Everything changed with a blast from the past as 1988’s ‘Hold on to Me’ sprung out. Camilleri’s vocals were delivered with shades of Van Morrison, and he repeatedly pulled the audience in to join vital choruses. Familiarity and nostalgia did their work but it was also a fine rendition in its own right.
‘Saint George’s Road’ was much slower, name-checking Melbourne sites in mash-up Paul Kelly/Van Morrison mode. One might think of the latter’s ‘Saint Dominic’s Preview’, for instance. Subtle vocal harmonies graced this one. ‘Livin’ Like Kings’, described by Camilleri as a “modern version of Gunsmoke”, was another tune from the new album — a character-driven tale populated with small-time crooks.
More characters? ‘Harley and Rose’ from the eponymous album had a curious hoedown feel and brought out Camilleri’s sax, which he playfully questioned as part of a festival spotlighting guitars.
The measured and soulful 1964 song ‘Down Home Girl’ came up in full New Orleans manner a la Dr John. While ‘Tears for the Bride’ was less successful, Lecia Louise returned for the remainder of the show, injecting extra energy into ‘Hold It Up to the Mirror’ and the finale, a supercharged version of ‘Shape I’m In’ that produced a jubilant audience sing-along.
The Black Sorrows’ Saint Georges Road show was essentially a co-stars’ event, allowing many people a taste of a real talent in Lecia Louise and a quick mix of old and new with The Black Sorrows. It was over all too soon.
The Black Sorrows and Lecia Louise played at the Dunstan Playhouse for one night only as part of the 2022 Adelaide Guitar Festival, which runs to July 24.