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Daily Telegraph

Black Sorrows deliver visceral, sweaty magic from an empty room

MUSIC Culture / Music / Review 27 Apr 20
Michael Dwyer The Age

The Black Sorrows

Memo Music Hall Live Stream, April 26

Candles burn on empty tables as the band of gentlemen files on like dark troubadours of times past. The eerie silence is a new rite of passage. In nearly 60 years on Melbourne stages, Joe Camilleri could never have imagined a gig like this.

But the Black Sorrows work the old magic. The deep roots of their rock and soul revue are pre-electric. Kiss the Motherlode and Hold on to Me recall those platinum ’80s days for openers. Wednesday’s Child is a new one with brooding lyrics and a chugging JJ Cale groove.

So goes the steady smoulder of old, borrowed and new. The gig fully combusts with Claude Carranza’s beaten-up guitar solo on Worlds Away, another one from his boss’s 49th album, Citizen John. That classic Hold Onto Me LP cops a generous serve as the pitch rises with Fire Down Below and Chained to the Wheel. The band grins and sweats. Audience? Whatever.

The Memo’s sessions cut a fine distinction in a market suddenly saturated with online gigs. The band plays the empty St Kilda club in real time, with full production and five cameras. The door charge is cheap, but not optional. Organisers say Kate Ceberano’s show last month sold more than twice the club’s capacity. A global audience is online.

How visceral this all-in, real-time stream can feel. When Camilleri, Carranza and horn players Tony Norris and Robbie Burke line up at the lip of the stage for the raucous finale of Shape I’m In, it feels like a crime not to leap off the couch and holler. Michael Dwyer