The Teskey Brothers at The Jazz Cafe
Before embarking on a US tour with female singer-songwriter Tash Sultana, the soulful Melbourne quartet Teskey Brothers made a one-stop drop into the UK at the intimate bar-restaurant Jazz Café in Camden. Though they will return to British shores in January 2020, the buzz created by an exuberant following and high praise for their live and recorded shows make for palpable anticipation in the 400-strong venue.
So feverish is the hubbub that it’s hard for support artist Kat Eaton to fully win over the voluble throng. Her performance is solely acoustic which makes it difficult to inject the vibrancy into upbeat numbers like Robbing You Blind and Giving It Up despite some funky strumming and the artist’s energetic high-range vocals and shimmying along to the songs. Interestingly, the tracks which captivate most are the slower numbers like the promising I Can’t Go Back, where Eaton shows a sensitive country tinge to her voice that might beckon success provided she plays to the right circles.
After her seven-song set, there is half an hour of beautiful delta blues played around the venue, before the Teskey Brothers punctually arrive onstage at 9pm sharp to rapturous applause. Yet for all of the hype about their authentic soul-blues sound and the captivating Otis Redding-inspired vocals of frontman John Teskey, the plodding opener of Man of the Universe symbolises the overwhelming feel of the setlist: predictably structured, slow-paced Americana songs with cliché lyrics about loneliness and adversity. It’s the beautiful brass duo of trumpeter Reuben Lewis and trombonist Ernest Stuart that inject life and memorable melody into their songs and, actually, the large cheers for them during band introductions in main-set closer Right for Me fully endorse their overwhelming contribution to the sound and energy of the gig.
Again, interestingly, despite all the effusive praise for their soul influences, it’s when the main band incorporate blues into their songs that they spread their wings and begin to soar. 13-minute Honeymoon morphs into a Pink Floyd-blues jam and their song Louisa gets som cool blues swagger when the bass and drums come in that nods to Them’s version of Baby Please Don’t Go.
So even though the audience clearly prefer the saccharine and slow-paced soul sound the band joyously repeat for most of the set, as is evident in their sing-a-long to one-track encore Hold Me, it feels they need to channel more of their brass backing and blues influences to hit loftier heights.
Photos: Nick Bennett
For further information and future events visit The Teskey Brothers’s website here.
Watch the live video for Paint My Heart here: