LIVE: Abbe May’s Clam Jam with Thelma Plum, Sex Panther and Mojo Juju – 14 Feb 2018

LIVE: Abbe May’s Clam Jam with Thelma Plum, Sex Panther and Mojo Juju – 14 Feb 2018
Perth Festival, Chevron Gardens, 14th February 2018
Review & photography by Peter Gardner

Valentines day could not have been a more appropriate night for Abbe May to launch her new album Fruit in a celebration of love, sensuality and sexuality, along with a hand-curated selection of exceptional female talent to form this years Clam Jam line up.

Chevron Gardens is a wonderful pop-up venue in the heart of Perth’s Elizabeth Quay. The surrounding garden area boasts multiple stands where those arriving early for the show can choose from a selection of gourmet food, wine and local beers at not too extortionate prices, whilst the outdoor main stage setup has exceptional lighting and sound, making it a perfect festival venue.

First to take the stage was Melbourne singer songwriter, Mojo Juju, who sadly sang to a mostly empty house, as people trickled in to the main arena. Interestingly the seats at the rear of the auditorium were first to fill, leaving Mojo Juju a little isolated as she sang through her laid back blues/roots set. Her style invokes a cross between Jack Johnson and Tracy Chapman, with her songs mixing love and protest, before finishing with the excellent Native Tongue from her forthcoming album, a song of identity and not knowing where we belong in this world. Mojo Juju has a wonderful talent with a voice to match and I felt her set ended too soon.

Mojo Juju

Recently reformed indie punk idols Sex Panther kicked off their set with Killer Pink from their 2006 EP of the same name. Singer Storm Wyness stole the show in a leopard print gown giving a powerful performance and bringing the growing crowd to their feet.

Sex Panther

Thelma Plum has a very demure stage presence, looking almost shy in front of an nearly full house. The set, featuring tracks from her EP’s and a couple of new songs, showcased her beautiful vocals, demonstrating why she has gained such a strong following over the last couple of years.

Thelma Plum

In a night charged with celebration there was still anger expressed from the performers, as the wounds of last years needless plebiscite, and the inaction of the last decade following the apology to the stolen generation left a bitterness in the air. Thelma dedicated the lead track from her Rosie EP, Around Here, to Elijah Doughty, whose death sparked a riot in Kalgoorlie, telling the audience his killer is due for release very soon and she just felt the need to say, “Fuck You.”

By the time the house was full, Abbe May strode onto the stage to a huge cheer from the crowd, with Odette Mercy on vocals, Matt Wright on drums and Abbe’s brother KT Rumble on keys and bass.

They powered straight into their set with Like Me Like I like You and Love Decline, complete with searing guitar solo on her trademark black Gibson, and it was immediately obvious we were in for a great show. Stopping briefly to wish everyone a very happy Valentines Day, Abbe came to the front of the stage engaging with the audience to sing Bitchcraft, in the process stealing someone’s drink and downing it in one. She made up for it pretty quickly, though, handing over her hip flask to the not-too-unhappy victim.

One of the best tracks from the album, Make Love Not Sense, was delivered with such sensuality it probably left many of the audience with dangerously high blood pressure, or at least in need of a cold shower.

Dedicating Seventeen as a love letter to her young niece, declaring how love is the best shit ever, Abbe then welcomed to the stage rapper Mathas, who wrote a verse for the track Over You, a straight declaration from one half of the population that they have had enough of sexism and abuse from the other half. It is the only song I know to address the ridiculous notion of paying a luxury goods tax on a human necessity.

Abbe May

Lightening the mood, May goes on to discuss her disastrous experience on Tinder with Tinderella, and declaring her love of flirting with Odette as an intro to Are We Flirting and Shake Your Thing.

The Band deviate from the new material for the first time to play blistering versions of T.R.O.U.B.L.E. and Karmageddon from previous album Kiss My Apocalypse, before returning to the new album with Doomsday Clock and finishing the set with Taurus Chorus complete with guest sax solo.

Again wishing the audience a very happy Valentines night Abbe leaves the stage having showcased the best work from her most honest and open album to date. A fantastic launch for the new album, and probably the best show I have seen so far this year. With her short tour continuing in the Eastern states, we can only hope the local lass returns home soon.

LIVE: Abbe May’s Clam Jam with Thelma Plum, Sex Panther and Mojo Juju – 14 Feb 2018

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