In Review – The Woohoo Revue @ The White Eagle Polish Club
with Nyash! – 2nd August 2013
I know it's going to be a popular gig. The line of parked cars extend up David Street to the park … this is a good sign. Bicycles are tied to poles everywhere but there's a spot left in the main rack … the luck is with me. I secure my steed and push my way inside. The place is pumping. In the main hall Nyash! are pushing out Afrobeat and the room throbs with a deep pulsing … I like it and the effect carries through to the bar which is echoing the beat and adding the raucous crunch of pub-conversations and early and happy inebriation.
There are a lot of people here. There are a lot of people I know. There are also a few of those that I know but have never encountered out before … this could be interesting … a bit of the extra spice! 'Ghiv-ee-Yetz please' I say at the bar and yes! I really have done it.* After some of that polite yet awkward conversation with some afore-mentioned out-of-contextors, I take my beer next door. The Polo looks better packed with people. Feels better packed with people.
I see that a golden curtain has been hung above the stage, it resembles an embroidered bedspread my parents owned. It has the neat effect of concentrating the action on stage while creating a sense of theatre … something the parental golden bedspread perhaps aspired to but never realised in it's time with us.
Nyash! are on and in the final throes of their set … I'm met with a dirty Coltraney sax solo that resonates in my bones before flying off into a whirlwind of rhythm and worldbeat, deep and rich. The sax is a Bari of course and it sounds rich and raw. I recognise Simon Milman on Bass and Rafael Florez on percussion. There's also a trombone, alto sax, keys, drums and two guitars. Apparently Keys and Bone are new to the band and tonight's their first gig … they have bright futures. During the break Rafael tells me he thinks one of the guitarists in the band is hot but he doesn't tell me which one … I think he means their playing but I make to write down the innuendo instead … things are simply more interesting that way.
I head to the bar … there's even more people than before … and more folks are coming in strongly through the door. I make it back into the hall just as the main band take the stage … The Woohoo Revue.
From the first beat, the first note … I know I'm in for a treat. Oh it's good. Sleazy beats and noir stabs. The band is well dressed, sombre dark tailorings and red silk ties. Dark curly locked Fiddler is gypsy green satin and white tulle and gorgeous. Bass guitar is wearing a gold sequined dress and the sax player is sporting a peroxide quiff. I can't see the band's footwear but I'm thinking it's universally black and pointy. The crowd dances from the get-go … seemingly anxious to not waste a precious note of this band. Oh it's tight … like a well, whatever you consider your metaphor for tightness to be … I know what mine is … I'm sure you do too and … I realise I'm less than 20 bars in to the gig. The music is complex and richly virtuosic … Klezmer and deep beats intertwine in dizzying spins. The breaks are numerous and choppy, dipping, diving and weaving but this is such an accomplished band that the beat runs through regardless and while lesser hands would lose a crowd, the dancers are right up there in it. Slinky dancers too … quite a ridiculous number of them and a top hat or two in the crowd … I think we could use more of them … hmmmm … slinky dancers and top hats? Now there’s a thought.
Before I know it I'm in the Middle East with sun-drenched guitars before descending to a swirling market of crowds, silver and spice … the fiddler … she is fantastic! I emerge from a quick trip to the bar, which is still packed by the way, into a dark Western, full of menace and potential ultraviolence … the dancers are in a frenzy and when the break comes, cruel and heartbreaking both it's to launch into what would be a colossal pop bloodbath scene in a Tarantino flick. I'm astounded at the sheer presence of it. I’m standing toward the back and of the hall, feel a bump and, turning around I realise dancing has erupted behind me … even Dave Howe on the desk has his hands in the air and is dancing! Just when I think the virtuosity of a soloist has peaked there's a seamless transition to another effortlessly as good and on it goes. The fiddler is riding on the shoulders of a dancer and playing the floor. If the world was ending in the morning there’d be parties like this.
The humidity, rising along with the rich scent of an energetic dancing crowd, reaches a critical mass. It’s as though everybody has suddenly remembered they’re Jewish or Romany which I’m pretty (though it has to be said not entirely) sure is not the case. A climactic finale and the crowd is left panting and whooping amongst semi-orgasmic chants of More! More! Woohoo return to the stage and suddenly it’s like they never left as they take us on another colourful flight of furiously enjoyable music.
Sound and lighting were transparent which is good as Dave doesn’t seem to be watching the desk whenever I look over at him … which admittedly isn’t very often … my mind really is elsewhere…
Reflecting, I enjoyed what I saw of Nyash! and think they're very fortunate to be supporting this lot … Nyash! are worth seeing but The Woohoo Revue is in another league entirely … inspirational.
Overall a top night … one of the best I’ve seen at the Polo.
Thanks again to Nigel McRae and the Canberra Musicians Club for the opportunity.
*I know I said I'd learn another beer … there's always next time…
First published in Culturazi Aug 2013