The Gov, Sat Jan 17
It’s going to be a big year of touring for Blue King Brown following the release of Born Free in November last year, but playing live is what Blue King Brown does best. There’s a reason why this band is a must-see at WOMADelaide and other festivals around Australia. They get their audience grooving and absorbed with their up-beat tunes and messages of hope, peace and standing up to oppression around the world.
Tonight at The Gov, Blue King Brown was supported by Kahl Wallis’ new solo project. Usually performing as the lead singer and songwriter from The Medics,Wallis provides an intense and full sound for just one man onstage with a guitar. A proud Aboriginal Wuthathi man currently living in Queensland, Wallis was born in Adelaide so tonight included shout outs to family in the crowd. Wallis appeared a comfortable emotive performer and clearly thoughtful and skilled guitarist. His genre was a mix of folk, roots and, at times, rock with a clear message in every song, occasionally reminding me a young John Butler. His final songs Shine and Warrior were his most accessible and catchy.
Blue King Brown kicked off with Renegade from their new album and got the high-spirited crowd grooving instantly. There was a nice mix of tunes from Born Free as well as old favourites from previous albums. Moment Of Truth, Water, Stand Up and Come Check Your Head are still great to hear many years since their release. Born Free singles All Nations, One People and Rize Up were just as popular as their older better-known songs.
Lead singer Nattali Rize is always precise with her vocals and she brings so much energy to the stage. Her back-up singers, West Papua sisters, Lea and Petra Rumwaropen, bring strength and power to the vocals. All of the musicians on stage are skilled and gel together so seamlessly with the different instruments and genres. Carlos Santos (bass), Salvador Persico (Timbales & Percussion), Sam Cope (Keyboards), Cesar Rodrigues (Guitar) and Javier Fredes (Congas & Percussion) all get their time in the spotlight showing off their solo skills in the bands many instrumental digressions. Watching Blue King Brown was visually pleasing as well, the back-up singers a great example, as they were always coordinated and identical in their movements. It’s sometimes the little things that all add up.
Nattali spoke about oppression of the people of West Papua and other oppressed Indigenous peoples around the world, as well as mental slavery and being born free from capitalism. The band has a strong message that they want to bring, but it’s always scripted and or intertwined in their music to keep the good vibes flowing.
Blue King Brown is a skilled, experienced band that has been spreading their ideas and conscious music for over 10 years. Enjoyment is not solely based on how many of the songs you recognise or can sing along to. They are an incredibly accessible live band to people who don’t know their music as it evokes so much hopeful energy and cool grooves.
Blue King Brown’s unique sound and ability to engross audiences will keep old fans happy and pick up new fans along the way for many years to come.
by Bobby Goudie