Jess Ribeiro and The Bone Collectors
Jess Ribeiro and The Bone Collectors @ The Spiegeltent
10:00pm, Fri 11 Feb 2011
It’s a weird thing when an artist starts their gig with your favourite song; I recall Head Like A Hole opening with Fish Across Face when they were here in the nineties, and Mr Bungle launching into None Of Them Knew They Were Robots back in 2000. Having your fave song come at the top of the set leaves you delighted that it’s been played, but a teensy bit sad that the sense of expectation has been removed from the performance.
But, when Jess Ribeiro played the opening notes to Pilgrimage, I was just over the moon with joy; it’s such an unbelievably beautiful song, and Ribeiro’s smokey and mournful vocals just draw you in and wrap you up and cuddle you and tell you that everything’s going to be alright but hey there’s some troubling shit out there. That sounds bizarre, I know, but that’s the best way I can describe it.
Playing with a subset of The Bone Collectors (Rob Law played alongside Ribeiro for the whole show on guitar and an odd South American ukelele-sized instrument, with some other chap (sorry, I completely missed his name) joining in on mandolin from time to time), it’s a quiet and moody gig… but with Ribeiro’s unmistakable voice and gentle backup from the two men, there’s a depth and power to the vocals that makes them oh-so-satisfying. The guitar work is amazing, too – Jess’ gentle, almost arpeggiate plucking forms the bass line, with Rob’s precise picking creating clear melodies. The stroking of strings provides a delightfully subtle percussive effect, and… look, it was just amazing. Better yet, they all seemed to be having a great time onstage.
Jess peppers the air between songs with little stories, short introductions; the intro to Robyn Was A Goth was bloody funny, as was the song itself – until you get to the end of the first verse. The other track on the latest single, Stealing My Youth, was also good fun, and their closer was a fantastic rendition of It’ll Come To Pass.
Hopefully it’s obvious that I adore Jess Ribeiro and The Bone Collectors – their rhythms manage to be both gentle and complex, which proves incredibly satisfying to listen to. And Jess’ voice… oh my. I could swim in it naked forever.
But there was a downside to the show: it was delayed by the overblown pomp of Cantina and, as we waited in the disappointingly short queue outside, one of the Garden spruikers was wandering around trying to drum up interest from the drunken throngs entering The Garden: “Jess Ribena,” he cried, “everyone loves him.” The mixing of the gig was wobbling all over the place, the lighting arbitrarily tinkered with, and they were wound up early by the Spiegeltent staff… so the fucking Wau Wau Sisters didn’t start too late. And that just makes me a lot angry, and a little sad: I suspect the band would have taken a bath on this gig, and been treated like shit by their venue.
But the show, though… wonderful.