Fat Freddy’s Drop @ Fremantle Arts Centre, 27/02/10

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Fremantle Arts Centre is one of the best summer concert venues in Perth. Shady spots and different levels make for a pleasant viewing experience. On Saturday night there was more of a festival vibe happening, perhaps due to the outdoor setting and mass number of people, perhaps due to the laid-back nature of the music. While the punters were interested it was in a non-fanatical way, most people seemed to want to dance in their spot, have a good time with mates and let the music wash over them.

Gilles Peterson was the support DJ and it was during his set that people rose from their picnic blankets to start to dance. He provided the perfect ambience for the evening – upbeat enough without being too full on. People had the choice of treating his set like background noise or if they so desired they joined the growing dance floor.

And then Fat Freddy’s Drop graced the stage. They played a long set which kept most of the audience engaged, whilst some punters preferred to subscribe to the festival feeling by spending more energy buying drinks and almost passing out at others’ feet. New Zealand accents were heard throughout the evening as it seemed a lot of ex-pats had come to support their fellow countrymen.

Fat Freddy’s Drop were relaxed throughout their performance, letting their dub and roots groove fill the atmosphere. A large part of the set was instrumental, with all songs very drawn out with jam sessions and vocals sparsely interspersed. Whilst the instrumentals could not be faulted, Joe Dukie has such a sublime voice that it would have been nice to hear a lot more from him. His voice sounds completely natural and easy, silky smooth but with a soulful and sometimes mournful edge.

The band played a lot of new material, from album Dr. Boondigga & The Big BW. Apparently some audience members would have preferred the old material, but the rest seemed content to groove along with the lazy mood of the night. They began with The Raft with it’s dub beats and “bwah” sounds of sax and trombone. The Nod was a highlight as Dukie’s repetitive vocal was matched to a harmonica to for a sound to stand out from the similar sounding jamming of the night. The crowd sang Happy Birthday to DJ Fitchie and This Room was a sweet song about romance. This was the final song of the night before the encore, then the band came back for Midnight Marauders.

So whilst there weren’t any “wow” moments (aside from being in awe of Dukie’s lovely vocals), the evening was a pleasantly laid back one, perfect for a hot summer night hanging out with mates and enjoying a couple of bevvies and a boogie.

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