Live Review : Tijuana Cartel + Felicity Lawless and Band – Soundlounge, 15 January.

The Soundlounge was already moving when I arrived around 9pm. Felicity Lawless’ striking vocals and instantly recognisable latin style echoed down the stairs and many guests appeared impressed that this diminutive woman could muster so much energy on stage. I found out later that she was absolutely stuffed from extended hours working in the studio, so where she drew all that energy from I don’t know. The supporting set was excellent, mixing up her original material with a Jeff Buckley cover, and switching from vocal to instrumental pieces as she does in all her performances. Scotty French (whom I’d observed earlier at The Arts Centre playing with ska party band Cheap Fakes) miraculously appeared on stage with Felicity, giving me reason to believe he was some sort of magician, and not just on the guitar.

Felicity finished up with Stand Down, one of my favourites, and got the audience clapping and dancing while writhing to lengthy licks by Scotty. Just what the doctor ordered to warm the crowd for the incoming Cartel.

Paul George took the stage in an unassuming way, and it was almost as if he was finalising the sound check, the way he politely smiled, made eye contact with the sound desk and started to play. Accompanied by the effervescent Eamon on horn, CJ on percussion and Carey on decks, he kicked off with a few classics to get people moving. A couple of new tracks from the new album in, the crowd was pretty pleased with the way the dancefloor was shaking. Part of the way through the set, Bali-based Adam joined the team on stage, filling out the sound on the drum kit in a song a little reminiscent of some tracks on the Tea Party’s Edges of Twilight. It should be said the light show – an oft-neglected experience at gigs – was impressive, and at times aligned with Eamon’s energetic trumpeting. The low ceiling of the room lent itself well to the light show and it felt like the crowd was part of the stage.

The set drew to a close with a rap from Paul that summed up the feeling from the crowd:

“I don’t really want it to end yet”

Raucous cheers brought Paul and his mates back out for a little ditty about the rhythm of the soul. The crowd responded with some of their own rhythm, bringing another three songs into the encore before Paul encouraged punters to meet he and Eamon at the merch desk to sample their album’s delightful musical stylings. Many took them up on the offer and the night drew to a close with just enough time to sneak off before everyone’s carriages turned back into pumpkins.

Well done, Tijuana Cartel and your band of Lawless gypsies. You made another good Gold Coast night a very satisfying one. Interested lovers of music are encouraged to visit Soundlounge again next weekend Jan 22 for a different incarnation of the same talent, when Felicity and Paul bring the sounds of Black Rabbit George to Currumbin. Enjoy!

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