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Review by – Colette Imison. Photos by Jason Rosewarne

Famous for it’s erratic weather, as a polar blast hit Melbourne, The Corner Hotel was the perfect venue to warm up, fill up and to catch some awesome homegrown music by King Canyon, Charles Jenkins and the band most had come to see, The Badloves. It’s been over 20 years since The Badloves last performed at The Corner Hotel, Melbourne’s iconic live music institution and on Sunday 11th April, the band celebrated the vinyl release of ‘Get On Board’,  the album that catapulted this renowned 90’s Blues, Soul Rock, R&B outfit back in 1993.

With four charting singles, ‘Lost’, ‘I Remember’, ‘Memphis’ and the groove driven single that expanded their following ‘Green Limousine’, in 1994 the band  were nominated for ARIA Album of the Year (‘Get On Board’) and Single of the Year (‘Lost’). Move forward to 2021, The Badloves are back on the road touring again and bestowing the nation with this gem of an album on vinyl, for those who want to truly reminisce.

Those arriving early were treated to a powerful performance by opening act King Canyon, their second only gig in full band mode.  A Blues (Psychedelic), Soul, Rock ensemble, with a strong 60’s and 70’s influence, King Canyon brought huge guitar riffs and high hitting soulful vocals to the stage. If you fancy the vocals of Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin, the charisma of Paul Rodgers (Free and Bad Company) and the retro rock sounds of Cream, then King Canyon must be thrown onto your ‘must see’ live list.

When 2020 found Melbourne in Lockdown courtesy of ‘the virus’, the live music scene came to a complete halt.  It was during this time that Melbourne guitarist James Ryan (also a guitarist in The Badloves new line up) was inspired to start up a band project of his own. Vocalist/guitarist Jimmy Cupples flew onto his radar and rightfully so, as Cupples isn’t new to the industry. Having come from musical pedigree (with parents as singers, a relation to Peter Cupples of 70’s band Stylus fame, classical training and a stint on the free-to-air show ‘The Voice’), the two flicked messages back and forth and collaborated online.  Only working together since March 2020, both Ryan and Cupples moulded their musical influences, kept true to themselves and completed their first track ‘Yellow Fever’ a rock heavy track, with insane falsetto and vocal runs. The two have since been working on their debut album scheduled for an Autumn 2021 release and have thus far released three tracks, ‘Woman’, ‘Smoke Stack City’ and ‘Pretty Little Thing’.

Joining the band tonight are Kit Riley (Bass Guitar/The Badloves) and Marcus ‘no relation to James’ Ryan (Drums). With Fender Strat driven blues riffs from Ryan, occasional acoustic guitar from Cupples, chunky bass from Riley and hard hitting drumming from Marcus Ryan, this band is impressive. However, it’s Cupples whose stage presence, energy, mind blowing vocal range and technique that grabs you in and takes you on a ride.  Add to that, James Ryan working the stunning sounds of a Cole Clark Lap Steel, their amiable banter and interaction with the audience, lyrical storytelling and musicianship, King Canyon’s performance was deservedly well received by the crowd.

Between sets the legendary Max Crawdaddy spun some wax on the decks before the second act Charles Jenkins took to the stage. Described later in the evening by Badloves’ vocalist Michael Spiby as a ‘National Treasure’, Charles Jenkins (Folk/Roots) accompanied by only his acoustic guitar, set a relaxed vibe throughout the band-room.

With over 30 years in the Australian music industry, Jenkins stunning writing and lyrics easily shone through. Having gathered critical acclaim around the world for his 2019 release ‘When I was on the Moon’, and with 17 albums under his belt and 2 ARIA nominations, the Melbourne crowd connected with his beautifully crafted lyrics, smooth acoustic tones and melodies. His track ‘Melbourne Eye’ (From his collaboration with The Amateur Historians album ‘The Past is Never Where You Think You Left It’ – 2014) was the stand out that ‘us’ Melburnians related to. Conjuring up mixed feelings, the Melbourne Eye (a massive Ferris Wheel Tourist attraction situated in Melbourne’s Docklands) is how Jenkins puts it, “A big blinkered wheel – The Melbourne Eye – Looking over the likes of you and I”.  Sitting on the edge of Melbourne, it’s claimed to be the ‘eye’ of our city… But it doesn’t really ‘see’ the heart of what embodies our city and it’s people?

As the red curtain was drawn, the night owls entered and filled the space to see the return of one of Australia’s favourite bands, The Badloves. With lockdowns and restrictions throughout 2020, the music industry and venues were really hit hard and Melbourne, a city that thrives on music felt it tremendously. Though, there is a silver lining through it all. With the gates closed to international acts, it’s a time where our homegrown music really has an opportunity to truly shine. Australian music lovers are craving live music, a time where so many of us have this need to fill a musical void and The Badloves were the perfect band to bring back that feeling by spotlighting tracks from their much loved Get Onboard album and a few new songs thrown in too.

With the only original member being lead vocalist/guitarist Michael Spiby, The Badloves bring us a new line up, filled with some amazing talent. Joining Spiby is James Ryan (Guitar/Vocals), Kit Riley (Bass/Vocals), Samuel Cope (Hammond Organ), Jeff Consi (Drums/Vocals) and the accomplished Susie Ahern on backing vocals.

The Badloves kicked off their set with a track off ‘Get on Board’ written by Spiby called ‘Memphis’. With his stunning mellifluous vocals, Memphis took us right back to the start. With Susie Ahern smashing backing vocals, she joins them again adding authenticity and power to their live performance. Spiby expressed his excitement at being back on the road after 28 years since the original release of ‘Get On Board’.  He stated “A slow campaign is better late than never” and was grateful that Warner Brothers came to the rescue to release it this year.

The Badloves delivered 8 tracks out of the 10 tracks from the album, from the bluesy track ‘Sugar Daddy’, with Spiby asking the crowd “If it was Sunday” before belting out the gospel fused song ‘Spirit in the Sky’. Samuel Cope, who first played with The Badloves at their live stream gig at The Blue Pyrenees Estate in Avoca last year, was up there giving us round two on the Hammond Organ, which was hooked up to the heavy weight Leslie Speaker. The Leslie spun and fanned out gorgeous church-like sounds that the crowd were worshipping, especially the stunning soulful organ intro to the song ‘Yesterday’s Gone’.

The crowd was also treated to a brilliant cover version of ‘The Weight’, which  The Badloves recorded with Jimmy Barnes back on his 1993 album ‘Flesh and Wood’.  Backing vocalist Susie Ahern was all over this performance, singing hard, working the stage and making you feel every note she hit. Consi (Drums) even belted out a verse on this one.

Ramping it up, The Badloves played two new tracks from their yet to be completed album, featuring their first single in almost 20 years ‘Soulbrothertruckinsong’ which stays true to Spiby’s soulful vocals, a grabbing guitar intro (Ryan) and their trademark sound of the delightful Hammond Organ.  The second release that is aptly titled ‘Tribal’ is a track that Spiby has stated was inspired by a recurring dream about retaining his tribe during hard times, which is pertinent given the times we’ve all just been challenged by.

The Badloves didn’t disappoint longtime fans, offering their single ‘Slave’ (Holy Roadside – 1995), which showcased a booming instrumental mid section. They played all of their single releases from the featured album release, following up ‘Memphis’ with ‘I Remember’ and crowd pleaser ‘Green Limousine’, which had the fans taking control of the chorus, finally closing the set with ‘Lost’. As they left the stage the crowd cheered for more…and more was what they got.

Serving up four more songs as an encore, we were treated to something rather special.  Giving the Hammond Organ a serious working out, they couldn’t have done it better than delivering a rendition of Booker T & the M.G’s famous track ‘Green Onions’. A brilliant evening of live homegrown music, The Badloves have just embarked on their national ‘Get On Board  Vinyl Release Tour, where you too can enjoy the ride.


Sat 17 Apr – Ravo Blues and Roots Festival, WA.

Sun 18 Apr – The Gov, Adelaide, SA.

Thu 22 Apr – Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW.

Fri 23 Apr – Centro CBD, Wollongong, NSW.

Sat 24 Apr – Tallagandra Hill Winery. NSW.

Sun 25 Apr – Gasworks Bar, Cobram, VIC.

Thu 29 Apr – Southport Yacht Club, Southport, QLD.

Fri 30 Apr – Jindalee Hotel, Jindalee, QLD.

Sat 1 May – Wallaby Hotel, Gold Coast, QLD.

Sun 2 May – The Lounge, Nundah, QLD.

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