The Black Sorrows, Wanderers @ The Gov, Adelaide 6/5/2023

At 74, Joe Camilleri certainly has lost none of his artistry as a talented performer, lead vocalist, guitarist and saxophonist. He really is just as good now as when he started with Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons way back nearly fifty years ago in 1975!

Fittingly they started the set with the Jo Jo Zep song Hit and Run which included some blistering sax from Joe. It certainly set the scene for the rest of the evening! Just as they launched into the familiar opening riff for Daughters Of Glory, they suddenly stopped and Joe asked, in no uncertain terms that I can’t repeat here, who the moron was who threw a glass on stage! Hopefully security found the culprit and evicted them. Then, it was back to that great Black Sorrows song.

He dedicated the next song, a soulful Saint George’s Road, to the late harmonica player for The Dingoes, Broderick Smith who passed away last week at the tender age of 75. It was a beautiful and emotional version. Before launching into Hold On To Me he mentioned that their keyboard player couldn’t make it due to a recent operation.

We switched to a more bluesy / soul style for the next couple of songs – sorry, but not sure of the titles! – with the second number introducing Alannah May (not sure on the spelling so I apologise if I’ve got it wrong!) on vocals. It was about this time that I relinquished my great vantage point near the stage. To save my eardrums, that were ringing, I moved to the back of the venue then around to one side. At least I could hear the music a little better – though still with bass and vocals a bit distorted. I’ve said it before, but I am sure half the sound guys are three-parts deaf. Just wish they would learn that crystal clear sound is a whole lot better than excessively loud distortion. Even my Apple Watch was warning me that prolonged exposure to such volume could damage my hearing!!

Alannah featured prominently as the tempo picked up again with a great rendition of Never Let Me Go which certainly justified her inclusion in this talented lineup. This was closely followed by Baby It’s A Crime – both tracks off the 1990 album Harley & Rose. The enthusiastic crowd were then wowed by a fantastic version of The Crack-Up off the Hold On To Me album from 1988.

This was closely followed by The Chosen Ones from the same album, with the crowd joining in for the chorus. A huge cheer erupted when Joe said that the “next song in [his] brain” was Harley and Rose … “should we try it?” and urging us to join in. Again, the audience needed no encouragement for that.

Joe then said that tonight he potentially saved us a fortune – because he had no merchandise for sale! He then told us how, forty years ago in South Melbourne, for their debut album he came up with Brown Eyed Girl. Though in this version, about halfway through it morphed into Under The Boardwalk, before transitioning back into Brown Eyed Girl at the end.

When he then introduced the band, he started off with “over here on the keyboards, the invisible man Mr James Black” who, with “new body parts, is going to be so good!”. The rest of the band – who actually were there – were Tommy Vaughan on drums, Mark Gray on bass, Alannah on vocals, Claude Carranza on guitar … and, of course … the inimitable Joe Camilleri on vocals, guitar and saxophone. The introductions transitioned straight into yet another classic in Chained To The Wheel.

After a rollicking rock ‘n’ roll version of JJ Cale’s Devil In Disguise, they fittingly ended the evening the way they started – a Jo Jo Zep classic with more blistering saxophone from the legend himself with Shape I’m In (which was also “covered” by The Black Sorrows a couple of years later).

The Black Sorrows were ably supported by the opening act of local band Wanderers. A fantastic six-piece outfit featuring drums, percussion, two keyboardists (who complemented each other seamlessly), bass guitar and fronted by Dusty Lee Stephenson on vocals and lead guitar. Dusty played South by Southwest last year and wowed Adelaide audiences in 27 Club at the Fringe Festival this year. A great tight knit group and one to watch out for around the traps. Dusty announced that they are in the process of completing a new album, so something to look forward to on the local scene.

Live Review By John Glennie

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