LIVE: NATHANIEL RATELIFF & The Night Sweats – Perth, 3 March, 2017
With All Our Exes Live In Texas and Lucy Peach
Chevron Festival Gardens, Perth International Arts Festival
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
You have to hand it to the PIAF curators: year after year they assemble an eclectic line-up of music acts from around the world who never fail to inspire and amaze with their diversity. Tonight’s sold out gig is perhaps the grittiest act they’ve ever featured: Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, a raunchy rock n’ soul ensemble who are rightfully the darlings of the legendary Stax label.
First, though, Lucy Peach proved a commanding distraction on the Garden Stage pre-gig, her five-piece group entrancing with a collection of indie-pop tunes that sparkled with glittering shards of folk, country, and – above all – bright light. Featuring tracks that Peach is currently in the process of recording, she marked herself as one to listen out for, that’s for sure.
Once inside the venue, Sydney foursome All Our Exes Live In Texas immediately impressed with their combination of alt-folk, rootsy Austramericana, and heavenly harmonies. A dream team of four established female singer-songwriters, this is release day for the girls’ debut album When We Fall, and their excitement is infectious. There are jokes, banter, and even a bottle of champers to share with a lucky few in the front row.
A strong vein of humour runs through songs like the “gruesome” I’m Gonna Cut My Heart Out and Don’t Flatter Yourself, while Sailboat, Boundary Road and Candle feature divine interplay between mandolin, ukulele, accordion and acoustic guitar and always their beautifully complimentary vocals. It’s a superb support set and we weren’t the only ones rushing to the merch desk afterwards to invest in the album
Tonight’s headliners are jetlagged: “We’ve flown 34 hours to be here tonight,” Rateliff announces wearily. “We’re tired – but we’re all here, so we might as well have some fun!”
The seven-strong ensemble have a sound that is heavy on the soulful roots of the Stax sound of the ‘50s and ‘60s – think The Blues Brothers Revue, a horn laden boogie that grabs a hold and makes it impossible to stand still.
Rateliff has the moves, too, slippin’ and a-sliding around the stage as he drips his honey-filtered warm vocals into the microphone. I Need Never Get Old and Parlour are favourites amongst the crowd already; Mellow Out’s chorus of “do-do-do-do”s is a wonderfully chilled groove for a stinking hot night under the stars; Boil & Fight – a track from his pre-band singer/songwriter days – is given the full Night Sweats treatment to awesome effect.
The band take a break for Rateliff to tackle I’d Be Waiting solo and acoustic – but the humidity plays havoc with his guitar tuning, and a couple of groups of ignorant twats talking loudly spoiled the quieter song for all those around them.
Rateliff cries out, “Night Sweats assemble!” and the band resume their places for The Intro; Out On The Weekend is swinging; but the highlight of the night is set closer S.O.B., presented as a revivalist spiritual hymn, complete with the singer (an ex-missionary) exhorting us all to drop to the ground, then rise up in supplication to the irrevocable power of rock n’ soul. It’s a magical moment at the church of The Night Sweats, Reverend Rateliff presiding.
The response is so enthusiastic that when the band return for an encore Rateliff admits, “you guys are fucking fantastic!” before launching into a rollicking cover of The Band’s The Shape I’m In and their own What I Need to finish a simply awesome night of music.
I’ve Been Failing
I Need Never Get Old
Look It Here
Howling at Nothing
I Did It
Boil & Fight
I’d Be Waiting
Out on the Weekend
Trying So Hard Not to Know
The Shape I’m In
What I Need
Filed Under: Live Reviews
About the Author: Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE