Review – Geoff Jenke
Normally you wouldn’t see me within miles of a ukulele band but it was the “songs of Nick Cave” that got me there. My friend who attended with me moves within folk music circles and on the way to the show he half-jokingly said he was trying to rid the world of the “nylon string toy instruments of mass destruction.” It was going to be an interesting evening then.
The show commenced with a reading of the lyrics of Nicks song, No Pussy Blues by bass ukulele player Eamonn Burke, before the other members of the band came on stage. It apparently turned out one member, Julian, was on “sick leave” and another had moved to Sydney so this was Ukulele Death Squad V2. All was not in vain as they had Matt and Ashlee to help on vocals and occasional uke.
The music started with The Weeping Song with Benjamin playing a bass drum with his foot while playing his ukulele. The music itself was minimal, but the voices were huge. The song Henry Lee let Ashlee loose on vocals and it was fantastic.
Wild applause greeted Where the Wild Roses Grow with Matt and Ashlee trading vocals superbly. The Ship Song belonged to Benjamin with only him playing ukulele. A beautiful sobering moment as was the truly lovely version of Into My Arms. You could have heard a pin drop in the room.
Benjamin told us of a Nick Cave/Johnny Cash duet, one that I didn’t know about, but he said it is on Youtube and it is great (and it is – look it up) The band then proceeded to play it with Matt and Benjamin exchanging Cash/Cave vocals. Superb.
The night finished with the song People Ain’t No Good from Cave’s magnificent The Boatman’s Call album, bringing ukulele bass player Eamonn Burke, who had stood at the back all evening, to the fore to perform lead vocal. What a wonderful ending to what was a delightful show.
I am not completely converted to ukulele bands yet, but this is a good start. My friend said he is still trying to rid the world of ukuleles; however, he is more than happy to let this band keep theirs.
Grace Emily Hotel – One more performance 14 March but it has sold out.
Ukulele Death Squad are playing a different show “Fifty Shades of Uke” on Saturday 16 at the Regal Theatre Kensington Park at 4pm and 7.30pm.