Gluttony @ Masonic Lodge, Phoenix Room, Sat 15 Jun.
Gluttony’s Phoenix Room, situated in the old, grand Masonic Lodge building plays host to a one-off matinee performance by Jenn Barrett & The Night Shift. The band are showcasing their new album, Upon A Hill, in its entirety, and will also add a couple of older songs to the set.
The lights dim, the smoke thickens, and the musicians, dressed in black, make their way towards their respective instruments. The music starts, and Barrett glides onto the stage and takes the microphone. The Storm kicks things off, and for the next hour the audience is treated to the engaging and atmospheric sights and sounds of this special Adelaide Cabaret Fringe show.
Barrett, sporting a striking head-dress, moves with a choreographed poise that adds to the occasion. Between numbers, she provides some insight into the writing of her songs, but this gig is all about the performance. Overall, the band’s music is reminiscent of another era, perhaps the late-1970s/early-‘80s, yet their “melodic prog pop” is still an original and contemporary sound.
John Meegan, situated at the front of the stage, plays assured keyboards without betraying any emotion. Sue Oldknow provides some understated but nevertheless very important vocal augmentation. Satomi Ohnishi’s work on the drums is sublime. New to the outfit, she gives every impression that she’s been playing these songs for years. She partners Nigel Walters (bass) to form a very listenable rhythm section. Damian Williams’ guitar is constantly busy. He plays guitar as if it should be ten times louder than it is, but this is all part of the sound of The Night Shift. It works.
Barrett’s songs sometimes focus on the exotic and esoteric; they include many motifs from the world of nature yet, generally, these themes are expressed in simple, everyday language. This ensures that everything that is being sung is discernible, yet the emotional gravity and intricacies of the compositions, as felt by the band, are also passed on to the audience through the music and movement.
The hour passes quickly as the dozen songs change pace but rarely leave the mood established at the beginning of the show; this is a thoughtful and mature experience. The performance comes to a close with Upon a Hill.
It appears Barrett and company are readying themselves for a big tilt at the Adelaide music scene. If you like your music presented with a healthy dose of atmosphere and theatre, then Jenn Barrett & The Night Shift might be just the thing you are looking for.
Image courtesy of Riccardo