The Baker Suite showed they are not cutting any corners on their live shows, with the successful launch of their album Still Life on the weekend.
The Ben Searcy Trio provided a short and punchy blues, alt-country opening backed by steady audience chatter. Searcy’s foot tambourine somewhat made up for the absence of drums and his intricate blues riffs kept the bass player and lead guitarist on their toes.
The 250 people in the audience appeared to be mostly of the kind that, instead of being tired and hung over from the previous night, were well rested for this auspicious occasion, amounting to a high energy of anticipation.
The Baker Suite made a dynamic start to their set with Evidence of Love lifted from their previous album Your Dreaming Self (2013). John Baker’s voice showed no signs of his recent health issues, maintaining his characteristic richness of tone and charismatic inflexion throughout the performance. The interaction between band members was testament to the longevity of the group, with Gayle Buckby’s harmonies blending perfectly with Baker’s voice. Double bass player John Aue and drummer Enrico Morena gave the performance a hefty energy boost while multi-instrumentalist Julian Ferraretto had his moment to shine playing the “saw” on Amber also from Your Dreaming Self.
The performance of the single Hindley Street from the new album had three quarters of the audience’s attention while the screening of the new film clip Every Time (made by Ben Searcy) had all eyes and ears directed to the stage. This emotionally charged moment was followed by some older tracks including Beanz, which inspired people to dance along. She’s a Pilot from the 2004 release The Raft proved a raucous encore allowing the band to show their true class, as they ripped out an extended jazzy jam much to the delight of the full dance floor.
There were some technical sound issues evidenced by booming and feedback from the stage while the swirling light display was somewhat reminiscent of a high school dance. Neither of these aspects were enough to detract from a truly memorable evening full of great music, crowd interaction and underlying emotional rawness.
by James Hickey