Gig Reviews

Mama Kin, Northcote Social Club, Melbourne – 11/04/2013

An eclectic crowd gathered at the Northcote Social Club in Melbourne for the launch of Mama Kin’s amazing new album The  Magician’s Daughter. Such a span of generations were present, which in itself expresses how widely her music reaches and is loved and understood. What followed was a night of first class local Australian music and entertainment at Mama Kin’s, aka Danielle Caruana, present family’s expense – all in good fun of course – and marriage proposals! I was asked at the end of the night if all gigs are as much fun as Mama Kin’s, and the answer was ‘no way’; this was no doubt one of the best gig’s by a homegrown artist seen at the Northcote for a long time.

The night opened with Melbourne’s Spender, an energetic performance and a sound which cannot have a label put on it; Spender’s musical style is obviously influenced by so many genres. Vocalist Tommy Spender got the crowd to their feet with his strong, clear vocals and the band’s high energy rock style tunes, Tommy pulling out some amazing performances on the saxophone to a very appreciative audience.

Fremantle’s Mama Kin took the stage soon after. Their soul/roots musical style is punchy and refreshing, and her vocals organic and unwaveringly powerful, yet her sound also has a vulnerable and fragile quality when coupled with her raw, honest and heartfelt lyrics. Mama Kin’s band comes together as one entity supporting her vocals so effortlessly to enhance that organic roots/gypsy style they are known for. Mama Kin’s brother Michael Caruana on keys, George Servanis on percussion, and Matty Witney on guitar took the audience on a whimsical, musical journey for the solid hour-and-a-half that they were on stage at the Northcote.

Mama Kin introduced each song by explaining their meaning and why she wrote them, often accompanied by a witty anecdote, all the while bantering back and fourth with her brother on stage and mother and sister who were in the audience, which was endlessly entertaining; this banter was part of what made the gig so fun and relaxing, which not all cities on her tour would probably experience, seeing Mama Kin is Melburnian, hence her family being present this night.

One of the first songs played at the launch was Cherokee Boy, a haunting track mainly backed by rhythmic percussion and accompanied by poignant lyrics. Rescue is a song that has a unique, 50’s retro vibe with a mellow beat and showed off Mama Kin’s sultry crooning.

There was one particular song from The Magician’s Daughter that Mama Kin and her band played this night that was lyrically and musically resonant enough to give you goosebumps and bring emotions to the surface: this was Red Wood River. Mama Kin explained that it was always a difficult song to perform as she wrote it about thoughts of loosing a child, which she explained as her biggest fear, the song therefore being a type of therapy in an effort to confront this fear. Her visible emotion appearing from behind the lyrics and her exceptionally haunting vocals were enough to make the hairs on your neck stand straight, the audience was pin-drop silent while they were drawn into this almost mystical performance.

Not all doom and gloom, however, as Mama Kin and her band whipped out super catchy, upbeat, retro/soul track To My Table, first released a couple of years ago, and got the audience pumped and dancing on the spot. It was seeing this performance that showed Mama Kin and her band’s versatility in her style of music and lyrics. Mama Kin even performed a duet with Tommy Spender during the show, a beautiful, pretty sounding love song which the audience loved, accompanied only by piano.

In Mama Kin’s true jokster, witty style, she announced to the audience they were about to perform their last song, meaning that an encore would follow and they had better pretend they knew nothing of it and act surprised when the band reappeared. It was during this encore that Mama Kin told the audience she was contacted by a fan asking to perform a song from the band’s back catalogue, which was a meaningful tune in her relationship with her partner. Mama Kin called out to this fan, who was in the audience. A marriage proposal on bended knee ensued from their partner, which brought a happily raucous reaction from the audience. What a night!

Mama Kin is continuing The Magician’s Daughter album launch tour around the country so be sure to catch her and her band at your nearest local venue to experience a brilliant live show by one of Australia’s most talented local artists

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