The last time I saw Lachy Doley he was playing the main stage at Blues on Broadbeach. That day his 1957 Hammond C3 refused to comply, possibly because of the relentless pounding it regularly receives from its master. It didn’t matter, this guy could play a fine-tooth comb and make it sound like a hurricane. And while a comb wasn’t necessary that day his clavinet with the whammy bar did the trick until a backup keyboard was hauled on stage. As fine a piece of gear as that vintage musical marvel is, when you’re known as ‘the Jimi Hendrix of the Hammond Organ’ it’s bound to let you down every now and then.
This time he’s playing a packed room at The Basement and the Hammond and its master are in fine form. The band are genuinely impressed with the turnout for a Thursday night, the payoff from playing Blues on Broadbeach so many times with his fan base well and truly cemented here. ‘Stop Listening to the Blues’ opens the set with a wry touch of irony, but nothing will hold this crowd back from enjoying the gig.
Three songs in and this three-piece are tearing it up on ‘A Woman’. It’s the clavinet that’s being thrashed this time as Lachy works the crowd, eyeballing them with intensity as drummer Jackie Barnes eyes the leader to follow his cues. Barnes drives the kit with a fluid, muscular syncopation but never overplays his hand, hitting the skins furiously hard at times, yet always sensitive to the song.
Doley’s smouldering re-imagined take on Bill Withers’ classic funk song ‘Use Me’ is inspired, giving the lyric a bitterness and resentment that was never there in the original. The mood then flips to something more playful as Lachy leaps off the stage and does a lap of the room encouraging the crowd to clap along to the next song. He introduces ‘Make It Up,’ claiming that in contrast to the title the band plays it exactly the same way every time. The crack draws laughs from the band and the crowd, before disproving it with a blistering jam. Doley is on fire, furiously riffing in the higher register of the Hammond as bassist Chris Pearson looks on with amazement and a telling grin. This is what the crowd came to see and they’re eating it up with relish.
By the time they return for an encore, everyone is spent – the band and the crowd. The last song for the night is Voodoo Chile with Doley somehow making that clavinet wah wah like a Fender and working that whammy bar into a frenzy. In the process he manages to make his version sound even dirtier than the original. It’s an astonishing cover that leaves me scratching my head. Who needs a lead guitar when you can play the keys like a man possessed?
Images (C) Simone Gorman-Clark