The Regal Theatre, Kensington Park
Saturday 23rd July 2022
(Review by John Glennie)
An enjoyable concert from a legend of Australian music, and in the delightful setting of The Regal – a comfortable and appealing venue, which was certainly noted by Renée!
First up we were treated to an acoustic set of original songs from Mason Lloyd – a local Adelaide musician. Mason has a great voice and provided a wonderful laid-back prelude for the evening. The first few songs were quiet ballads with themes of self-doubt, loss of his first love (being his dog! – which I can relate to ☺️), and a song called Shy that he wrote for a female friend about fear of coming out. Pace picked up for the last couple of songs for his set.
After the break, Renée entered the stage and straight into some really deep notes to start The Thrill Is Gone – she has always had that wonderfully distinctive voice but it seems to have dropped a few tones over the years, but not as a detriment! The song featured some awesome guitar work from Charlie Owen. The next couple of tracks gave us the opportunity to see the quality of the musicians in the band, which comprised Yuri Pavlinov on bass, Antony Floyd (from Joe Camileri’s band) on drums and Mart Saarelaht on keyboards.
In between songs, Renée was full of praise for The Regal and said she would love to perform here all the time – which brought cheers from the crowd. She had selected a great mix of music genres from soul, funk, reggae and blues. A great rendition of Nasty Streak preceded one of her most famous songs Heading In The Right Direction.
After these first few tracks her voice seemed to loosen up a bit and we heard the Renée of old when she launched into Shakey Ground and the Jimmy Cliff reggae song Sittin’ in Limbo. A lady near the stage yelled out for Renée to do a particular song, and she spent some time telling her in no uncertain (but in friendly banter) ”NO!” and proceeded to say that after numerous albums with 12-14 tracks over nearly five decades that she had earned the right to pick the songs she wanted to play! Then, after launching into a song, she suddenly stopped and said “no, I don’t want to do that one!”. After saying “let’s do the blues” and a quick chat with Charlie, they did Do I Move You.
The crowd went nuts when she went into Say I Love You – one of her most iconic hits which, she informed us, was originally released by Eddy Grant. She said she never thought it would be so big when she decided to cover it on her 1981 So Lucky album. Renée let the crowd do a lot of the singing – which they did pretty well too! After a great version of Paul Kelly’s Foggy Highway she finished the evening (with a lot of help from the audience again) with It’s A Man’s World.
Overall, a delightful evening of entertainment from one of Australia’s most iconic singers.
Appearing on an episode of the ABC’s Spicks and Specks over 10 years ago, Renée said that in the early days she was doing really well in the US music charts and getting a lot of airtime on the radio. However, this was when there was still significant racial segregation and she was on African-American stations, since with her voice they thought she was black. When her next album came out, she went against her promoter’s recommendation not to put her photo on the cover – and immediately lost her US airtime!
Mason Lloyd was a contestant on The Voice in 2020 and, unfortunately, was not selected by Kelly Rowland to progress past the battle rounds! It was a great battle to Simply The Best and really could have gone either way. He had an awkward moment when Guy Sebastian said he thought Mason’s performance was a bit more laid back, to which Mason responded “is that something a coach can teach me?”. Guy responded that no, a coach can’t teach that – but it wasn’t enough to get Kelly to pick him to go through.