Adelaide Entertainment Centre
Thursday 16 June 2022
Words – Geoff Jenke
Classic Australian albums don’t come any bigger or better than Jimmy Barnes’ Soul Deep. The trailblazing collection of sixties R&B was certified 10 times platinum in Australia, won the 1992 ARIA Awards for Best Male Artist and Highest Selling Album and remains the highest-selling album ever for both Jimmy Barnesand Mushroom Records. Now Jimmy is back in Adelaide in support of the 30th Anniversary tour of the album.
“It’s a good night for a family reunion” commented David Campbell during his set and he was right. Many of the bands playing tonight interchanged members/singers or had walk on “guest” spots.
But first up was Karen Lee Andrews, formally known as Ms Murphy. Jimmy later suggested she was an “adopted” member of the Barnes family or “she adopted us”. Poor Karen didn’t have a good start with unwanted noises coming from the P.A, however she handled it professionally. She stopped mid opening song to give the tech’s a chance to fix it. While waiting she asked if anyone knew any jokes and one pretty bad joke came back at her. “Adelaide, you can do better than that” Karen said. Issue fixed; it was back to the music. Karen has a powerful voice, “frightening powerful” according to Mahalia Barnes later on, as proven on her version of Aretha Franklin’s Do Right Woman – Do Right Man. Karen played Promises off her new E.P, Eden before closing the short but great set with the Bacharach/David tune I Say a Little Prayer. A bright future is ahead for Karen Lee Andrews.
Only a short break before Mahalia Barnes & The Soul Mates hit the stage. Although a short set, it was thoroughly enjoyable with originals like Ain’t Nobody Else mixing it with covers, like a remarkable version of Bette Davis’s If I’m in Luck, I Might Get Picked Up. A song for her daughter Ruby called Little Light was played and the finale, Three Times I’m Gone gave Mahalia the chance to let each band member get a piece of the spotlight.
Still keeping it in the family, David Campbell strutted on stage, complete with suit and tie to the urgent strains of Keep on Running. “More songs, less chatter” he proclaimed early and true to his word, packed 9 songs into his 30 minutes. Mahalia Barnes provided backing vocals for the majority of the set. Baby, I Can’t Let You Go, Yeh Yeh, Good Lovin’ rolled out, one after the other, David running all over the stage. “We owe a ballad for the Adelaide Cabaret which has just started” announced David before a beautiful Smoke gets In Your Eyes. She’s My Baby, Devil in the Blue Dress and Shout rounded out truly wonderful set. The band was great, with special mention to the sax player filling out the songs.
Of course, the night was about Jimmy Barnes. Lately it seems he has been in Adelaide performing every month or two, which, being an Adelaide boy, is fine with the audience judging by the “We love you Jimmy” being echoed around the Centre. Jimmy appeared with his 12-piece band looking splendid in a red jacket and tie, doing what one imagined he was doing at birth, screaming and yelling. There is no holding back with Jimmy singing, it is all or nothing. With no breaks it was Hold on I’m Coming, Money and (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) High and Higher starting the evening before David Campbell made an early appearance for a duet on Do You Love Me. David and Jimmy gel nicely on the song, David doing the smoother sounds while Jimmy, well Jimmy being Jimmy.
Guitarist Michael Paynter, last seen in Adelaide with Icehouse, got to sing Soothe Me with Jimmy before a show stopping What Becomes of the Broken Hearted from Mr Barnes.
With Farnsy not available to sing When Something is Wrong with My Baby, Jade MacRae stepped up to the plate and possibly even elevated the song to new heights. “Technically it is not a soul song, but it is soulful to me” said Jimmy of All the young Dudes. Yes, it is not a soul song, yes, it is a great song, but it didn’t quite fit the bill tonight.
Karen Lee Andrews helped perform Wilson Pickett’s In the Midnight Hour before most of the band left the stage, leaving just a piano player, upright bass, drummer and guitarist to play with Jimmy. My Baby Don’t Care and I Put a Spell on You were played under an array of white lights. I Put a Spell on You was superb, but too short and personally I would have liked to seen a longer version of the song. As band members came back on stage, Jimmy lined them all up across the front to perform That’s Right before exiting stage left to allow Mahalia Barnes to perform solo.
On return, the red jacket was replaced with a blue one. Jimmy Cliff’s Many Rivers to Cross sounded beautiful with lovely harmonies from the backing singers. Then someone yelled out for Khe Sanh. There is one in every crowd. Jimmy relied “Not sure we can do a soul version of that. I’ll get back to you”
Hound Dog was played and I have to admit to thinking “I know this song, what is it?” as the song was played very soulful. A nice touch. Of course, it was River Deep Mountain High that ended the evening. Bombastic, loud and proud, this version sounding as powerful as Tina Turner’s version.
Naturally the crowd wasn’t going to leave it at that and in a quick-fire turnaround, Jimmy and band were back for the encore, flying into Stagger Lee and ending with Shake Rattle and Roll.
As people exited the building, Jimmy came back on and explained “This is where we play the unrehearsed songs” before playing what was probably the song of the night, The Bee Gees, To Love Somebody. Simply divine. Jimmy’s voice just melted into the sound of the band. Billy Lee Riley’s (My Gal is) Red Hot was quite a surprise ending but a really good one.
It may have been the Soul Deep tour but this show really rocked.