LIVE REVIEW: Electric Empire @ Upstairs at Beresford, Sydney 14/10/11

written by Chris Familton

Danny G Felix Experience kicked things off at the recently opened Upstairs at Beresford. It is a pretty flashy joint with a a ton of money poured into the fit-out and sound system. I’m not sure the surrounds will gel with the indie and rock crowds but for the sounds being produced on this evening it was a good match. Danny G Felix surrounded himself with a tight and highly proficient set of musicians playing smooth soul, light funk and the kind of acid jazz that was big mid 90s. It was all a bit too slick and sterile with the exception of Alphamama’s vocals and stage persona which added some personality to the music.

Electric Empire have been gathering legions of fans over the last five years and particularly the last twelve months with the release of their album and plenty of touring experience overseas and at home. What sets them apart from many other bands in the soul/funk genre is that they back up exemplary performances with strong songs and invest likeable personality into their music that comes across as entirely genuine. Drummer Jason Heerah is the undeniable focus of the band on-stage with his beaming smile and some of the most powerful and tight drumming around. He put a bomb under the crowd with his usual drum solo/James Brown impersonation showing how aware they are of the art of stage craft. All three members of Electric Empire were brilliant vocally, mining that vein of soulful r&b pioneered by the likes of Stevie Wonder and Curtis Mayfield and harmonising with a sweet cohesion. Baby Your Lovin’ was a standout track, as were a couple of new songs that showed they have the ability to head into more slightly psychedelic soul pop territory. Aaron Mendoza got all Frampton on the crowd with his talk box spotlight – leading the band into covers of Sly Stone’s If You Want Me To Stay and a crowd pleasing take on Adele’s Rolling in the Deep. From there it was plenty more hard grooves and soulful crooning as they mixed old and new songs into a set that never outstayed it’s welcome. Mention should also be made of their new bassist who was rock solid and dropped some killer runs locking in with Heerah’s drumming. Electric Empire are bound for massive success if they can keep writing and performing at this level.

this review was first published in The Drum Media


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