Drac and Bones, Jolly Roger, 21/2/20

Live music comes in forms – mega concerts in stadiums, gigs in nightclub venues, street performers, sets in bars etc.

Tonight’s premise was stripping things back to their acoustic bare essentials.

This put the performers under the magnifying glass, under bright lights.

Would they burn to a crisp? Or would their talent be brought into sharp focus?

The Joy Roger is a narrow hole in the wall, oozing charm and mischief. Graffiti adorns the walls and last night it had an air thick with expectation. As the name suggested, there was a pirate vibe, with skulls, crossbones and skullduggery enhanced art, shiver me timbers.

Or similar.

The punters soon claimed all the horizontal surfaces and settled in for an evening of espieglerie.

Bones Rivers

Bones opened with a track that he built up on a loop. His guitar talent was immediately and abundantly apparent. The sounds he coaxed out of his guitar were at times beautiful, at others brutal, but they were always sublime. Sometimes the guitar faded into the background, but then it surged forward like a runaway train.

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He did some blues covers and it was as if George Thoroughgood was in attendance. He had an easy and affable voice and a manner that was relaxed, but intense. His vocals were versatile, conveying a rich sense of emotion.

The music then changed gears to swank and swagger, showing that he knew how to build atmosphere in an incremental manner that caught us unawares. Then, he regaled us with elegant flamenco inspired blues.

There were lots of clever guitar interludes. One inspired the 5 rowdy blokes near us to engage in interpretative dance. His cover of “Another Brick in the Wall” was superb, taking a song that we knew so well and giving it a spin of which Shane Warne would be proud.

He closed with a track that I think was called “Rhythm of the East”, a Middle Eastern flavoured offering that was built around a percussion loop that he played on his guitar. Again, an engaging atmosphere was cunningly built, with his hands often being a blur.

All too soon this musical journey was at an end. The musical landscape that we had traversed was vast and beautiful. We were left satisfied with this rambunctious ride and keen for the next adventure.

Julian Sagan

Julian continued our journey with some punk covers. This was honest music with attitude, delivered by a performer who obviously loved being in the moment. He was constantly moving, enjoying what he did and this was infectious.

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We had immediate engagement with his sound, as it was music at its grass roots level – grabbing the audience and drawing us in. Amongst the crowd I saw lots of head nodding, singing along and the occasional flourishes of air guitar.

This was guitar and vocals and little else and Julian was able to paint musical pictures. As the set unfurled it grew in sound and depth. Julian readily shifted from one musical style to the next and his voice easily lasted the set. It often surprised me with its clarity and passion, as he shared with us cogent tales of unrest, struggle and hope. There was passion, with a sprinkling of anarchy. There were tales of redemption, unrest and challenging circumstances.

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Our journey continued to be a remarkable one and we still had a distance to travel.

Drac and Bones

After seeing Bones earlier, I wondered what peculiar fusion awaited us.

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From the outset I got the impression with Drac and Bones that they were comfortably uncomfortable as they performed in a different manner to their usual adventures. They were energised and keen for a grand adventure, with the subtle underlying tension delivering a unique experience.

We were treated to reimagining of tracks from the likes of Metallica and Marilyn Manson.

Jesse whipped the crowd up with his boundless enthusiasm. He is the consummate showman, knowing the ebbs and flow of the punters and able to augment the mood of the room.

We were treated to grandiose guitar and vivacious vocals. Their manner was relaxed and self-effacing. This was about fun, but the quality still shone through.

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Jesse crooned and growled, soothed and incited. At times he let his voice off the melodic chain and it scampered about, fetching our attention. Bones’s playing had ongoing intensity and a tangible commitment to the sound. His vocals added much to the set.

As a duo, they were a seamless blend, soon pulling the crowd to the front.

Together, they were greater than the sum of their parts. It was the banter between them that was the X factor. It soon had me laughing, singing, dancing and clapping. My daughter had invited one of her friends along, a career mathematician with a somewhat cautious nature. I don’t think he knew what awaited him. I got great satisfaction in watching him surrendering to the experience – laughing, singing and taking video of the Tenacious D cover.

On that note, Drac and Bones might as well be Tenacious D, with their engaging, irreverent, clever take on music. That, and an incredibly amusing back-and-forth about colonoscopies…

Some final thoughts…

I’ve played just about every sport at some stage, with the exception of ice hockey and jelly wrestling. I didn’t try ice hockey because I don’t like to fight and jelly wrestling without cake and custard is a trifle boring…

In the team sports that I played, if you had a bit of an off day, there were enough people around you that your bad day wasn’t so apparent.

Tennis, however, if you were off, it was there for all to see.

Tonight was like this – nowhere to hide. Not that any of the performers needed to hide.  I mentioned before about being the performers being under the magnifying glass, under bright lights. The considerable skill of these magnificent mammals shone through, giving us a remarkable end enriching evening. 

They took songs that we knew so well and breathed a different life into them. These folks delivered on the promise of a unique experience and one that I will cherish. My tanks to the evil geniuses involved in conceiving and bringing this event to life.

It was intimate and personal, just like the aforementioned colonoscopy…

Greg Noble.

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