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JACK DAVIES AND THE BUSH CHOOKS @ Regal Theatre gets 9/10


Jack Davies and The Bush Chooks @ Regal Theatre
w/ The Feast of Snakes, Nika Mo
Thursday, October 14, 2021

9/10

Local folk act Jack Davies and The Bush Chooks celebrated the launch of their new EP Shadows and Sounds of the Night with a special performance at The Regal Theatre last Thursday night. Running as part of the inaugural Suburban Vibes in Subiaco series, there was a sense of excitement in the air as a youthful audience streamed into the iconic venue to see some of Perth’s brightest talent performing in an unfamiliar, yet majestic setting.

The Feast of Snakes

Hot off the release of their debut self-titled album, The Feast of Snakes were armed with a swag of new tunes to make their mark on the evening. Despite being just a three-piece, the group have a larger-than-life sound and personality to match, commanding the attention of the growing audience as they entered the venue.

Songwriter-guitarist Lewis O’Donnell’s vivid lyrics were delivered with a Dylan-esque shriek, rising above the scuzzy, yet undeniably melodic backdrop of boppy bass, feedback, and tantalisingly discordant guitar licks reminiscent of White Light/White Heat era Velvets or the best of the late 70s punk acts.

Nika Mo

Nika Mo followed and brought with them a more intimate and folkier sensibility to the evening’s proceedings. Band leader Annika Moses had a friendly and confident stage presence as her and her band shared their unique brand of melancholy-folk and vivid storytelling.

Moses’ vocals shone, as did the back-up vocals of Cecilia Brandolini and Brooke Travaglini, with all three seeming very at home at the front of the Regal’s large stage to the ever-growing audience. 

The highlight of the set was a track that mused on a friend “changing when they moved to Claremont,” which Moses introduced by identifying how “dangerously close to Claremont” we were, in reference to the song’s part-humourous, part-heartbreaking refrain featuring that suburb. The song exemplifies Nika Mo’s ability to blend emotionally tender observations into gripping folk stories, filling the audience’s hearts whilst keeping them entertained.

Jack Davies and The Bush Chooks

Next up was the night’s main attraction; Jack Davies and The Bush Chooks for the launch of their new EP, Shadows and the Sound of the Night. Davies took the stage on his lonesome,  looking like a long-haired Woody Guthrie in his best folk get up of dark trousers, white tee, suspenders, high-strung guitar and harmonica. 

Understandably, Davies looked a touch overawed by the grand surroundings of the Regal Theatre, but he warmed to the role in good time. He thanked the near-capacity crowd for their attendance and the traditional land owners before launching into the short and sweet Rusty Blue Car

Davies was then joined on stage by his band, and took the short gap in proceedings to explain the set dressing of random bits and bobs of furniture and house plants; the EP launch was originally slated to be a ‘house gig,’ and so when it was moved to the Regal, this was really still a house gig, “it’s just we’ve bought (the house) to you,” he said bringing about chuckles in the audience.

Jack Davies and The Bush Chooks

The band then launched into Cinnamon Pie, a song really about cinnamon buns, a fact that Davies disclosed in his typical self-deprecating manner, revealing he changed the lyrics and the song’s title due to the fact that ‘pie’ is much easier to rhyme with.

Next up was an as yet untitled track, that Davies described as “about not being fine” and one he believes will feature on the group’s first album, which is currently being recorded. The song was as impressive in tone and character as anything on the Shadows EP, highlighting how much the Bush Chooks bring to Davies and complement his vision. The violinist interspersed her licks, as the guitarist and keyboard player utilised effects to provide the perfect soundscape to Davies’ vocals. This showcased a side of Davies few had heard before, with his soaring voice more akin to Jeff Buckley than the spoken-sung Dylan of most of his work to date.

Following a couple of older tracks, Davies transitioned into one of the new EP’s most adventurous tracks, the very impressive Sunrise. Just like the untitled track, the group was once again able to flex their musicality and show off their understanding of one another, seamlessly stopping and starting as the track required, and providing space for one another where necessary.

Jack Davies and The Bush Chooks

Most recent single Penguin was next. To set the scene, Davies turned on a projector of the documentary he was watching that inspired the song’s lyrics, which unfortunately turned off as the song started. With deft wit and without dropping a beat, Davies quickly changed the lyrics to suit, “not watching the baby penguin, not swimming along, not through the frozen water, not next to his mom, ” before reverting back to the original lyrics as the film flickered back to life with some behind the scenes intervention, bringing cheers from the crowd. 

A song about aliens followed next, before fan favourite Half Frozen Beer was pulled out and was greeted by the audience with cheers and the first sing-a-long of the night. With the audience now well and truly in the palm of Davies and co’s thanks to his honest and humorous personality shining through, the band jumped into their new EP’s first two singles, Inner City Lights and Fire Eyes. Both songs feature a greater pop-sensibility than Davies’ previous work, and really came alive, entering country-rock territory as live pieces, held together by drummer Oscar van Gass’ fantastic touch and the swing of the bass.

Davies chose the band’s classic Rosemary Mushrooms as the set closer, which had the audience singing-along before bursting into cheers and applause at the song’s end, with the general consensus that we had just witnessed a bonafide music-star who is still in his upward trajectory. It is anyone’s guess just how far Davies and his Chooks will go, but if they continue with performances like this, then it won’t be long before they are a feature on national and international tours.

MICHAEL HOLLICK

Photos by Linda Dunjey

 

 

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