Abbe May + Clam Jam @ The Twelve Bar, Adelaide, 11/8/2018

Late Saturday and day three of the Adelaide Guitar Festival at the Twelve Bar at the Adelaide Festival Centre and we are treated to Abbe May hosting an all-star line-up celebrating Adelaide’s’ women of guitar.

First on stage was Abbe with an excellent song called Constanza from her Howl and Moan album from 2008 which included a brilliant and applauded guitar riff from Jessie-Lee Zubkevych

Abbie then introduced WMN (who I had previously seen as Juno). Their first song was Spring which is a folky pop song with beautiful singing from Daye Jung and “to die for” harmonising from the rest of the band. The style of the band completely changed with the next song Treehouse with Wallis Prophet rapping and Daye Jung singing and it sounded similar to Hilltop Hoods with Montaigne or Illy and Vera Blue. They were ably backed up by Lucie Vano on vocals, guitar and keyboards and Ella Moeck on soaring violin and vocals. I can’t wait to see them again play a full set.

Next up was Cookie Baker who has an absolute glorious voice. She started with the jaunty folk of Little Engine and followed it up with a brilliant cover of Portishead’s Glory Box. The combination of Cookie Baker’s voice and Jessie-Lees soaring guitar was exquisite and received a rapturous applause. The song’s chorus of “I just want to be a woman” seemed to be the theme of the night. I was hoping to hear Cookie’s impressive song called The Summer which she did with Tim Rogers. Cookie’s website states “Upcoming tour dates announced shortly!” so hopefully I will hear it soon. I really miss seeing Cookie regularly on the Adelaide scene.

Sour Trout took to the stage next who are normally the duo Kate Alexander and Hana Brenecki but tonight were backed by the Limpettes. Their previous name was HATE (a mixture of Hana and Kate) and I am pleased they retired this name because it inferred a much heavier band. There was a lot of fantastic harmonising tonight and this duo was no exception playing the folky songs Good to Me and Trying. Good to Me is a great song and it is currently available on Kate’s Bandcamp page.

It was getting late but the crowd was still excited to see Alana Jagt up next. When Abbe introduced her and asked her how to pronounce Jagt, Alana said it probably sounds like “yakt” but she was not fussed how people said it. Alana was wearing the most colourful top of the night and proceeded to sing two songs off her Wilderness EP Somehow Sometime and Lullaby #2 both wonderful jangly rootsy songs with Alana’s heartfelt sultry vocals. Both of these great songs are on Triple J’s unearthed page so you can check them out.

Hana and Jessie-Lee’s Bad Habits were up next and did Eight-tonne Shackles and You Don’t Know Lonely from their impressive Southlands album. They are a marvellous alt-country band and have been going from strength to strength over the past couple of years and played a superb set at Womadelaide last year. Hana’s melodic rich voice and Jessie-Lee’s guitar playing work so well together. They played with an awesome energy despite having their own show earlier in the night, Jessie-Lee being on stage for most of the night and Hana singing with Sour Trout and doing backing vocals for Alana. I loved the touch where Jessie-Lee put on her country hat at the start of this performance to signify to the crowd that she was not the backing band for these two songs.

Special mention must be made to the house band, the Limpettes, who was on stage most of the night and were an incredibly tight band who would be excellent to see together in another format someday. They were led by Annie Siegmann on bass who is a solo artist in her own right and who chose the bands for tonight. On drums was the very driven and solid Holly Thomas who has recently been drumming for Husky on their recent Australian tour and has a list of credits as long as your arm. Lastly, the aforementioned Jessie-Lee Zubkevych (from Hana & Jessie-Lee’s Bad Habits) was on wonderful twangy guitar who continues to get better from the first time I saw her in the Sloe Ruin in 2015.

Abbe May now returned to the stage and did eight songs to finish the night. The first two with the Limpettes were Mammalian Locomotion and Abbe’s well-received cover of Pony by Ginuwine. It has been a while since I have seen Abbe performing with a band and it sounded great. Maybe she can recruit the Limpettes for her next tour.

Abbe proceeded to play songs from her whole career and she played them loud and it was first class. A Blackout in Your Town was a highlight and is a song about her late grandmother who was her best mate and gave her confidence when she was young. Abbe regaled us with stories about her misspent youth and the worst hangover she had which was in Adelaide. Abbe played Seventeen from her superb latest album called Fruit and this song is a letter for her niece to read when she turns 17, 21 and 28 and it details with all the stupid and wonderful things Abbe has done in her life.

Abbe is a great guitarist and is a well-deserved act for the Adelaide Guitar Festival. The Limpettes came back on stage for the last song and with no rehearsal of the song previously and just a few guiding words from Abbe they proceeded to play a top rate version of Howlin’ Wolf’s Spoonful. A magnificent end to the night.

Live Review by Richard De Pizzol

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