Lenny Fontana @ Ambar, Perth (21/03/03)

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‘Who is he? What does he play?’ was the questions on the lips of many, including mine, when hearing that Lenny Fontana, one of the “House Music Greats”, was going to playing Ambar on Friday night. A quick look at his impressive biography revealed that Fontana was a veteran New York producer who had stepped firmly into the spotlight with his uniquely disco flavoured release What You Need (feat Duane Harden). After listening to a few of his tracks, I knew a great night was ahead.

Our group eagerly stepped inside Ambar shortly before midnight and found the club was pleasantly filled with a spic and chic crowd who were evidently having a great time. Armed with drinks from the bar we took stock of the groove inducing house that local dj Paul Malone was pleasing the dancefloor with. Malone continued surprising the crowd with his quality selections that included a series of tracks layered with deep black American male voice-overs that then progressed onto some more funk house in preparation for Fontana.

Around 1.30 I noticed an Italian looking ‘mystery man’ that walked up to the decks and had a quick look around, but mostly was looking out at the crowd. This naturally started a series of whispered ‘Is that Lenny?’ amongst the group, but uncertainty was the verdict so patience was required. You could tell that anticipation was rising as Malone appeared to be wrapping his set up. All questions of the identity of the mystery man were instantly cleared as he stepped up again to the decks and laid down some vinyl in preparation for his set.

Lenny Fontana opened for business at 2am and was immediately greeted by applause and whistling. The dance floor was eagerly swamped as he dropped ‘oh oh oh so beautiful’ tracks that got everyone dancing (even if they were sitting down). In his biography Fontana had said that going to New York clubs such as Garage and Better Days had schooled him on how to play to the crowd, and it was evident to us that this schooling was thorough because the crowd was loving it. His progression through piano driven deeper house featured rapturous jazz outbursts that elicited several comments from our group of ‘so glad we came’.

After about half an hour he brought up the tempo and funk and dropped Together’s So much love to give – booty shaking was near compulsory and needless to say the dancefloor was freshly swamped by people keen to boogie to one of this year’s favourite tracks. This served as a signpost that the music was about to change, and with evident precision Fontana progressed into his signature style of disco. Lenny kept the tempo up with his unique flavour of disco, including his hit What You Need, and this ensured that the dancefloor was kept full to the brim of eager groovers.

Broad smiles were everywhere as we reluctantly left the club, because we had the unmistakeably disco ‘Fontana Experience’.

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