The Audreys @ The Zoo, Brisbane, 02/06/2007

Australian act The Audreys brought their much-anticipated, toe-tapping, sheets-to-the-wind, honky-tonk road show to Brisbane on Saturday night. Opening with the lilting Where Are You Now, vocalist Taasha Coates looked luminescent and Audrey-Hepburn-like in her pale satin floral print summer dress set against the backdrop of the very dapperly-clad band in shades of brown.

Showcasing tracks from the debut album that took away the ARIA for Best Blues & Roots Album last year along with a few sultry covers, this multi-instrumental five-piece band from Adelaide seemed overwhelmed by the enthusiastic reception of the Brisbane crowd, and kept thanking everyone for their support throughout the one hour set.

But modesty aside, the unassuming talents of Coates, who has the most smouldering, sexy, tone and pitch-perfect voice, accompanied by Mikey G on violin & lap guitar, Tristan Goodall on the guitars and banjo and Lyndon Gray on the bass and double bass with Toby Lang on Drums, create beautifully harmonic country-style roots music together.

In between songs, things went a little bit country at the Zoo on Saturday night when southern songstress Coates reminsiced about the last time they had played in Brisbane, where she claims they played in a mall to a crowd of “around seven or eight”. Things have moved pretty quickly for The Audreys in the last twelve months, and there were plenty of fans filling the Zoo on Saturday night, keen to catch the band’s critically acclaimed live show. With an assortment of twanging, strumming, picking and plucking tools utilised throughout the set, including banjo, ukelele and lap guitar, songs like Banjo & Violin had Coates blowing into an odd-looking instrument called a melodica that looks like a washing machine hose attched to a kiddy-sized keyboard, but sounds like an accordion. Banjo & Violin is the kind of tune that lingers long after its been tasted; with lyrics like “I’ve been a little bit country since I met you, I used to be so rock –  “n’ roll”, a sexy tango beat, and dance hall sound, it’s the kind of song you might find yourself humming as you do the dishes.

Despite the requests from the lady in the audience who kept shouting ou, “Jolene!”, the Audreys chose instead to forge on with their new stuff; “If that’s OK with you guys?” with the new track Paradise City. Coates’ seductive screen siren come-hither sultriness is accentuated by her hands that move like a ballerina as she sings; her hips sway to the beat, slowly, sensually, her hands slide up the satin of her dress to her waist. With crooning melodies of heartache and blues such as the catchy Oh Honey, the sound of the Audreys is reminiscent of 70’s band Fleetwood Mac, with hints of folk, sprinkles of ragtime and soulful blues smothered with a very earthy serving of country goodness.

The Audreys can take any song from any era and create covers that melt like chocoalte sauce on a mud cake. In a novel approach to audience interraction, they have chosen to actively increase their covers repetoire by asking fans to nominate the songs they’d like to be covered in the upcoming gigs on their myspace. Tonight it was the Mamas & Papas’ Dream a Little Dream that was chosen for the encore. But the set also included classics like Love Hurts done in slow, soulful harmony, and their version of INXS’s now twenty-five year old song Don’t Change. Here, The Audreys have taken what was an 80’s pop classic and turned it into a lilting country-style lullaby in a way that transforms it into a whole new song quite effectively.

Picking up the pace a bit for a few rockier tracks saw toes tapping, thighs slapping and “Yeeha!” reverberating throughout the room, as the banjo and violin played along before handing the limelight over to the double bass and shiny silver ukelele for the track Monster, a daydreamy tune with vocals that seem to drift as if on a breeze on a lazy summer afternoon.

Incorporating another novel instrument; the lap guitar, and heavy on the guitar, the song Fifty Degrees In The Shade also conjured up scenes of sweltering hot summer days, the kind of dripping, sweaty, wet heat that saps your energy and dulls your senses. This music was hot!

The Audreys put on a brilliant live show. Taasha Coates’ sings like she was born to entertain army troops, with her pin-up girl looks and a voice that can create pictures in your mind as you listen to her sing.

Yes, The Audreys certainly have come a long way since the mall.