This well-balanced and well-devised Fringe performance really hit the spot. The Sneaky Little Band, now numbering eleven very competent musicians, had the target audience – mostly Boomers – perfectly on-side from the outset. They had Eliza Hall at Payinthi (formerly the Prospect Town Hall) really rocking.
The band’s leader, and vocalist/guitarist, Lance Jones put together a programme with a rational and convincing framework. He’d been inspired by Millicent Sarre’s Fringe performance Friendly Feminism for the Mild Mannered to remind modern audiences, and the Boomers themselves, that there were protest songs of many kinds in the 1960s – 1980s.
He presented a narration and commentary to suit the themes and supported that with the appropriate visual images on the rear screen through each of the songs. We were reminded of the stimulus for much of the music: the Vietnam war, feminism, racial equality, gender, empowering workers and others. He made the points unequivocally but without lecturing us. It was more by way of helpful explanation, and therefore the more convincing.
All this was neatly framed by a hard-to-beat Set List of favourites from the era. Nearly all of us in the large audience knew and enjoyed them.
Jones himself led the vocals in a number of the songs, bringing power and sentiment to his task, along with classy harmonica accompaniment when required. His version of Blowin’ In The Wind was especially affecting.
The three other singers, Helen Wheadon, Celine Daniel and Carolina Fioravanti were a strong, tuneful trio while shining individually in their solos. Fioravanti powered her way through several, raising the energy on stage and in the audience. Wheadon used her vocal control and range to great effect. Daniel was effective in all the ensemble work and really shone in her uplifting solo passages in I Will Survive.
It is a rare treat to see and hear so many live musicians performing so well together. They blended well and the choice of music allowed a number to show their individual instrumental skills. Particularly impressive were the dextrous Mark Lanigan-O’Keeffe on lead guitar, John Nicholson and Andrew Edgeworth on trumpet, Nicole Molloy on saxophone and flute and the reliable Sonia Radford on drums.
This was a performance that was toe-tappingly enjoyable in itself but also had a number of important things to tell us and points to make. Bravo!