Blues / Folk / Gig Reviews / Swamp Rock

LIVE REVIEW: C.W. Stoneking, Peter Bibby @ Manning Bar, Sydney (30/10/15)

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Peter Bibby graced the stage in solo format for his opening set and he’s increasingly becoming a rambling rambunctious storyteller. Looking like a homeless Jeffrey Lee Pierce and dispensing his brand of Dylanesque Australian larrikin song he charmed the audience with plenty of songs from his last album including fan favourites Hates My Boozin’, Cunt and the highlight and set closer Red FX Falcon the most heartfelt and affecting song Bibby has penned.

C.W. Stoneking is on the last round of touring for his Gon’ Boogaloo album of last year. In comparison to his Metro Theatre set on the eve of the record’s release, the newest songs are now bedded in and nestled amongst the rest of his back catalogue. No longer shiny new songs that require extra concentration and application they flowed with ease in Stoneking’s effortless composite style. A full house and warm temperature made for a celebratory and swaying room in motion as he opened with the first three songs from aforementioned album.

Stoneking’s voice is a unique instrument, seemingly cobbled from Tom Waits, Louis Armstrong and early 20th Century bluesman. It crackled and strained with words overlapping, trailing off into grunts and shifting into conversational mode. Listening closer his guitar playing was even more fascinating, circling the rhythm section with its traditional blues and rock ’n’ roll riffs one minute and switching to the offbeat via the Caribbean and chordal jazz shapes the next.

Vika and Linda Bull were exceptional backing vocalists (as always) having a ball whispering, howling and handling everything from voodoo blues to Motown raves with consummate ease.

After a trip through the back catalogue and a healthy dose of the latest album, Stoneking gained a full audience embrace with the solo and acoustic The Jailhouse Blues that demonstrated his full stylistic range, from deconstructed rhythm music to traditional communal song.

Chris Familton

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