REVIEW: Karl S Williams + Frankie +The Family Jordan

Rabbit + Cocoon, Miami
Friday 1 August 2014


Tonight we bear witness to a spectacular celebration of music and mood, the occasion being the detonation of Karl S William’s Timebomb (of love) upon the majestically adorned surrounds of Rabbit and Cocoon at Miami.

First up sees a special solo performance by Jordan Rochfort of Brisbane cult country outfit The Family Jordan. Rochfort peddles an impressively authentic line in lonesome cowboy troubadourism, delivering his dusty vignettes with laid back swagger to the steadily swelling crowd. The ghost of Townes Van Zandt rides with much of his work, and this is a righteous thing. He’s hardly a one trick pony though, with the final track of his impressive set touching upon a dose of 60’s inflected pastoral psych – Syd Barrett via a stripped back Anton Newcombe if you will. From the vibe of this bare-bones performance a rendezvous with The Family Jordan in full band mode entices.

Next up on tonight’s eclectic bill sees local chanteuse Frankie, aka Fiona Franklin, strap on her guitar and deliver an engaging set of indie inflected pop-rock. Backed by just a drummer, Frankie’s charisma, stage presence and ear for a catchy, crowd pleasing melody ably carry her set all the way through, with tracks such as the sassy and instantly memorable Broken Heart enticing plenty down the front to get up and dance.

The electricity in the air is palpable by the time tonight’s headliner, the venerable Karl S Williams enters the fray, resplendent as usual in sparkling sequined black and silver jacket and signature hat. With a newly inked deal with Warner affiliate Footstomp Music and overseas shows on the cards for later in the year, this is a man whose star is in rapid ascension.

Throughout the course of his set Karl flits seamlessly between his signature instruments of keyboard, guitar and banjo. But he is not alone this evening, with his onstage support ensemble consisting of a hand picked backing band, who over the course of the set flesh out and shed a new dimension on a suite of songs already strong enough to stand unadorned on their own two feet. Karl and his impressive support cast lock into their mojo from the get-go, blowing off the cobwebs early with the unveiling of brand new single Timebomb, before regaling us with well loved numbers Is This Love, Chief Running Water Sings The Blues and Be’elzebub.

A mystical mid-set interlude materialises in the form of a solo spoken word poem-piece with ethereal keyboard accompaniment. A self indulgent momentum crusher in the hands of lesser mortals rises above in the hands of our musical conjurer.

And the surprises aren’t yet complete, with Karl’s delightful lady Yanina stepping forth onto the stage later in the set in a stunning, flowing 60’s style dress to deliver tasteful backing vocal accompaniment to latter set tracks such as Leadbelly’s dusty blues standard Death Letter, as well as impressive new numbers Golden Tears and Ring Around The Moon.

Penultimate track is the ever wonderful, banjo driven White Hotel, the crowd stomping and hollering along in appreciation. But somehow we’re taken yet higher still, with a jaw dropping moment of a capella magic as Karl, alone on the stage at the end, launches into spiritual torch song What Wondrous Love with every fibre of his being. The spellbound crowd stand mesmerised, transported via the power of one man and his voice alone. A better ending to an already electrifying show could not be envisaged…



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