[2007065] NEO – Funk Bus

NEO – Funk Bus (FringeTIX)

NEO @ Festival Centre Piano Bar

3:30pm, Sun 25 Mar 2007

Neo’s Funk Bus tour hits the Festival Centre on a sunny Sunday afternoon, and it looks like this may simply be a continuation of Saturday night, because frontmen Jack Tinapple and Tim Sinclair look decidedly the worse for wear. Just before the show, Tim was at the bar asking someone about the rider; apparently there is none, but they get free water. “Just as well,” I hear him mutter.

Now, Sunday arvo isn’t really prime-time for one of Australia’s great funk bands, and the gathered crowd is decidedly on the “family” side of things; there’s a few prams, a lot of small children. Immediately, I’m thinking that the hard menace of Wrecking Ball (an utterly brilliant song, I might add) is off the set-list; in fact, thinking back to the cabaret risqué of the Plug Into Serotonin show, I was wondering how much family friendly material they could dig up, without compromising their core Neo-ness.

Pfffft, I shouldn’t have worried. Their opening tracks, Learn to Swim and Lullaby, not only get the crowd on-side, but remind me of the thing that I always forget to mention when writing about them… yes, it’s easy to wax lyrical about the funk and the blues and the jazz and the rock, but I always forget the harmonies. Jack, Tim, and sax guru Liam Samuels combine fabulously, and it’s only today – in a slightly less amped atmosphere – that I’ve noticed how good they really are.

One Man Band allows opportunities for the rest of the band (Eamon Holligan on guitar, Robbie Hoad on bass, and drummer Michael Cassells) to share the spotlight with a collection of mini-solos, with a spectacular ascension to the song. Eloquence sees Hoad simultaneously playing didgeridoo and bass, the evolved Bus Blues returns, and Feather Song features a harmonica face-off between Tinapple and Sinclair – a bit of panto, and bloody brilliant fun. Frottage – perhaps the only family-friendly mis-step – features a fantastic all-hands percussion-fest; Phone drags the entire audience in for the chant. And, as per usual, Gypsy is a cheerily tongue-in-cheek closer.

There’s a fair whack of new (or, at least, not-recorded) songs, and the old faves are all there (the notable exceptions being Wrecking Ball and Get Your Love)… hungover or not, Neo – once again – have put in a blinder. We should be eternally jealous that NT have these guys.

Not convinced? Go to Neo’s MySpace page listen to some tracks, then go purchase their new Bus Blues EP and Serotonin double CD. They certainly made a lot of new friends and fans at this performance.

Set list for the afternoon:

  1. Learn to Swim
  2. Lullaby
  3. Wish I Hadn’t
  4. One Man Band
  5. Tumble
  6. Stay Alive
  7. Eloquence
  8. Feeling So Happy
  9. Speaking With Guns
  10. Bus Blues
  11. Feather Song
  12. Phone
  13. Frottage
  14. Mojo
  15. Gypsy

(Walking between shows on the 28th, I stopped at the lights on Morphett and Franklin. I notice a car preparing to turn across my path with NT number plates; I look closer and see a bunch of Neo-ites grinning, pointing, and waving at me as they speed off. I grinned :)

Good to see Jack at the TenGooz show at the Elephant the next day, too :)

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