Bondi Cigars– The Gov -Friday 9 August 2019
Words Geoff Jenke & Gareth Hickery
Leon Redbone said “The blues ain’t nothing but a good man feelin’ bad”. J.J. Fields must have been feelin’ real bad at The Gov, as he played his 12 string guitar, opening for The Bondi Cigars. It was just J.J. seated on stage with his guitar pouring out his homage to some of the world’s greatest blues acts including Lightning Hopkins and Tampa Red to name a few. His playing was impeccable and his voice sounded whiskey drenched, smoke parched, as all good blues should. Songs were naturally about “where yo been last night” and men on the run, as all good blues songs are.
What was not good though, he was fighting a losing battle against a large proportion of the room talking and ignoring this wonderful talent. He changed from 12 string to electric guitar half way through the set and this helped overcome the incessant talking a bit. Their loss for not listening.
The good news is when he finished his set, the crowd wouldn’t let him go. “Ok I have time for one more” he quipped before launching into Elmore James, Dust My Broom. Still we wouldn’t let him go so he dedicated the final song Rollin’ and Tumblin’ to Canned Heat.
This man is good!
Keith Richard said “If you don’t know the blues, there is no point in picking up the guitar and playing rock and roll or any other forms of popular music”. When Shane Pacey formed the Bondi Cigars in 1989, he well and truly must have known the blues. Second guitarist Eben Hale, who joined in 1997 also must have known the blues, as the two-guitarist led us on a blues infused evening of rock and roll with the two left-handed guitar attack, duelling and soloing without excessive histrionics.
Although a cold and wet Friday night the Gov had an almost full house turn out for the return of Sydney’s Bondi Cigars. The band have previously come to Adelaide in the warmer months and found our wintry conditions a shock. As the floor filled with people wanting to dance during the opening number, you just knew this was going to be a toe tappin’ type of evening (to be helped out with a glass of nice red wine). Steppin’ Inoozed “heavy” blues with extended guitar breaks and wouldn’t be out of place if it was in Joe Bonamassa’s set list. Looking For A Changeand Ain’t No Big Dealfollowed suit with the band obviously having as much fun on stage as we were watching.
Shane Paley, with Al Britton, who has led the band from its beginnings in 1989 is an engaging leader whose personality cemented the happy vibe. His voice, although not a classic blues voice, suits the band’s music. Other members of the band, joint guitarist, vocals and occasional song writer Eben Hale, bass Al ‘Hollywood’ Britton, formerly with Dynamic Hepnotics and drummer Frank Corby were more than a sum of the parts.
Shane asked everyone to join in on Solomon Burke’s soulful tune Cry To Me, and I am sure Solomon would have been proud of their version, which proved to be one of the highlights of the night. We got a short bass solo during Leavin Thing with Al making all sorts of faces during his playing. A couple of Bondi Cigars early songs such as Ghost Town, with a short but dynamic drum solo, and Howling at the Moon were played towards the end of the set and were received especially well.
Shane said he wrote Walk This World with Michael Buble in mind. Michael didn’t do it so the Bondi Cigars did. They rounded out the set with what was to be the highlight of the evening, a long version of Long Grey Mare (originally by Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac).
2010 marks the 30th anniversary of Bond Cigars formation. Let’s hope we see them back in Adelaide for a special gig, maybe in warmer weather.