Jazzanova, Lanu & Kylie Auldist @ Roxanne Parlour, Melbourne (07/03/09)

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Excitement abounds (abounded?) as word hit my ears that Jazzanova would once again be hitting our shores (not literally by boat, it’s just a saying). The last time I got a chance to see Jazzanova in action, they were all missing in action, bar one member (name escapes me at the moment). So OK, technically all of Jazzanova weren’t here, they had sent an emissary to represent the entire collective, but at least at their ’06 gig at Miss Libertine they had brought the gorgeous Clara Hill along for the ride. Three years later, I hear “they’re” coming back to promote their awesome new album Of All The Things (you who reads this, you NEED this album in your life). Being the sometimes-optimist that I am, I assume that since this counted as a promo tour of sorts for the album, perhaps we would get the full live band treatment? Because (in my mind) it would better sell and promote the record as the majority of it was recorded and played live in studio. It seemed more than likely, but alas, there was no Jazzanova group, no “Sonar Kollectiv Orchester”, no band. Unfortunately (and fortunately) Australia had to settle for just the one member (again): the uber-eclectic DJ Alexander Barck (no Clara Hill in sight, which was a shame considering last time I saw her she commented on how “lovely” my red curly hair was… swoon).

Roxanne Parlour was a new name on my list of Melbourne locations that I had yet to scope, but honestly this is the reason I love doing this gig: get to see/hear kickass music, and get hip to a bajillion (I believe it’s a real amount, just a squiz more than a zillion) places I otherwise would be hopelessly ignorant to (ignorance: not always bliss). Located in an alleyway just off Little Bourke, we (friend & I) caught the elevator to the third floor to enter the Parlour, although there was a minor detour when we stepped into more of a sports bar-ish place that was blasting… Alanis Morissette. Didn’t really think much of it at first. As Barck was repeatedly described as “eclectic”, I was not gonna be surprised if he felt like playing some Alanis. I mean hey, who didn’t like one of her songs at some point? But I quickly got clued in by the security that we were in fact on level 2. Which meant two things: Jazzanova have got a reputation that precedes them, and that is one slow-moving elevator (I swear it felt like we climbed at least 3 levels).

Finally on the right floor (the bright red sign on the wall gave it away), we stepped into a DJ set by The Bamboos frontman Lance “Lanu” Ferguson, who was of course spinning some dirty funk. Then on jumped the severely underrated local talent Kylie Auldist. This was the second time seeing her perform, first at Parklife last year, and I gotta say I preferred seeing her in the more intimate environment of Roxanne Parlour. Not only is her voice MINT, she hopped off the tiny stage and started dancing with the crowd to her own songs (it looked like she was trying to get everyone to line-dance, but I won’t judge).

Following on was Alex Barck, who spun a predominantly tech, electro and slightly minimal set, mixed in with some heavy 80s funk, all of which was eclectic enough for me not to recognise the names of any of the songs (an impressive feat, for sure). All in all yes, Barck spun a good set, it was eclectic, kept people moving etc. But you can’t help but wonder why the full Jazzanova collective wouldn’t muster up, at the very least, a live band. The new album is perhaps the best modern take on all the retro Motownish soul stuff that’s come out in the last few years. If it needs promotion, it needs a band, not another DJ set. Although fun was had, next time Jazzanova decide to come back and send one lonely soldier to rep the crew, it’ll be the first time I don’t attend.

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