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  • Jessy & The Volunteers - Gig Review: Jessy & the Volunteers @ Anthology Lounge, Auckland - 24/08/2018

Jessy & The Volunteers - Gig Review: Jessy & the Volunteers @ Anthology Lounge, Auckland - 24/08/2018

30 Aug 2018 // A review by butch181

Anthology Lounge is one of the newest kids on the block in regards to gig venues in Auckland City, and the vibe inside is relaxed. Set up with a series of circular booths and tables, the scene is set up more for seated affairs, than jamming people together in the standing area in front of the stage. While quite dark and intimate in terms of the lighting, there is a good level of white light to go with the cyan and magenta that gives good visibility of those performing at the front of stage. 

The honour of starting the night’s festivities came in the form of Geoff Ong and his band. Beginning with a riff reminiscent of Jet’s Are You Gonna Be My Girl, Ong’s musical style actually touches many musical genres. With an almost surf rock and lounge hybrid sound in some songs, others come across more soulful or retro 80’s inspired. With a very smooth clean vocal style, Ong has an upbeat groove that could rival Jamiroquai. Geoff Ong and the band performed a mix set of originals and covers; Stevie Wonder’s Superstition, Amy Winehouse’s Valerie being the more well-known additions to the set list that speak to the style you would expect from an Ong performance. 

Ong is very charismatic, and enjoys bantering with the crowd, encouraging them to come forward and offering tid-bits of trivia relating to the tracks on their set list, though some could say he was a little bit overzealous in some situations feeling the need to constantly remind the crowd who he was. With his higher tremolo vibrato vocal style, Geoff’s melodies remind me of Thomas Oliver, and it works together very well with the rhythm section of the band. There are some nice technical guitar pieces inputted into each track, but it never takes away from the soothing ebb and flow of the tracks.

But we were there for the headliners. The entire night was put forth to launch the debut single of Jessy & the Volunteers. The five-piece have an intriguing set-up if only because of Siaosi Nash’s instrument that consisted of a laptop/keyboard amalgamation. Frontwoman Jessy Wadeson comes up on stage, front and centre, and is dressed to impress; sporting a fur coat, hat and glasses, she exhibits bravado and confidence right from the get-go. Clicking her fingers, she signals the start of the set and the band comes in with a funky soul sound. Wadeson has a gritty grain of quality to her vocals, along the lines of Gin Wigmore and Amy Winehouse. 

While an intriguing mix in sound that is currently underrepresented in the music scene, the performance felt like it was holding back instrumentally. A definite disconnect between Jessy and her Volunteers, the band remain static and separated from the performance while the frontwoman shimmies and moves around on stage in the spotlight. As the set progresses, Wadeson switches between simply singing and having dual responsibilities on the guitar, eventually removing the fur coat as the night continues, revealing a brilliantly eye-catching sequinned outfit.

The mix wasn’t quite optimal with Naua’s keys barely audible, but there was still an innate rhythm and groove. Even with the lackadaisical pace, the crowd were having a great time up front and dancing throughout much of the set. The band really shone when the pace picked up and they got to showcase their technical skills. Julian Green on the drums, in particular, looked like he was really feeling the pace and pulse of each track, and demonstrated great skill with some tight rolls and trills. 

Some tracks coming off with an Alicia Keys vibe to it, there is definitely a bluesy R&B/soul vibe, and Wadeson definitely has the presence of a solo performer. Playing through Nightwatch towards the end of the set, Wadeson bantered with the crowd about how she hadn’t memorised the lyrics to their last song yet and had written them on her arm. Playing through, it was obvious that the arm didn’t help in the end, but she laughed it off and continued on. Closing off the set with a long instrumental and placing the spotlight on each of the band members is a classic way to end the set. But alas that was not the case.

After finishing the track and thanking everyone, the crowd (who had reverted to socialising at the bar) were made aware that the band were waiting for a chant for an encore performance; perhaps best to save the long instrumental and thanking the band members until the encore in future performances. Starting their encore performance anyway, Jessy & the Volunteers ended the night with The Firewood Song.

Review written by Alex Moulton.
Photos provided by Alex Moulton.


About Jessy & The Volunteers

Jessy & the lads are creating the future of NZ soul/rnb music. 100% original tight tunes grown organically in their Grey Lynn basement ... This sexy, bluesy meld of funk, rock, rnb and soul will have you screwing your nose up with pleasure & sinking your hips so far into the ground, you might break your knees.

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