The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

ABBE MAY
INDI BAR, SCARBOROUGH
30 Dec 2009

 

 

$5 doesn’t buy you much these days – hell, it barely buys you a beer! But 28 hours before the new decade starts, it bought us entry to see Abbe May, Perth’s burgeoning blues legend.

 

The Indi is a gloriously old school suburban pub right near the beach, and one of the few venues in this town still championing live and original music. Tonight – New Years Eve Eve – Abbe plays the last of 4 weekly Wednesday residencies here, and if it weren’t for it being such a crazy time of year we’d have come here for every one.

 

Support act Ruby Boots works similar territory to Abbe May – singer-songwriter, guitarist, blues influences. Both boast ballsy, throaty, bluesy voices, though Ruby’s is sweeter, and her songs and playing are in a more modern ‘blues n’ roots’ style.

 

Like Abbe, Ruby sings a mix of original and cover songs full of passion and verve, and although we arrived late and only caught the second half of her set, closers ‘Not Sixteen Anymore’ and ‘I Wanna Sing my Blues Away’ indicated she is one to keep a close eye on.

 

During the break Abbe set herself up (this was a solo gig, no “Rockstar” pretentions here!), plugged in her guitar and started into ‘You Gonna Get It’ with no fanfare at all, followed by The Willie Nelson song made huge by Patsy Cline, ‘Crazy’, and Willie Dixon’s ‘Wang Dang Doodle’ (as famously recorded by Howlin’ Wolf).

 

 

It’s Abbe’s voice that’s on show here – her guitar work, despite being near-masterful, understated & confident - much like the original blues masters she so obviously adores - takes a backseat to THAT voice.

 

Abbe’s voice is her raison d’etre – she and it are at once confident and shy (her eyes remain tightly closed through most of her set, seemingly lost in the rapture of the music and, perhaps, heightening her senses to funnel even more emotion into her delivery), sassy and sexy, throaty and ballsy. It reminds me of a female Billy Thorpe crossed with the great Howlin’ Wolf himself. It’s like a snake charmer’s flute – absolutely mesmerising.

 

 

‘Storm’ is played on a teensy ukulele and is introduced as a homage to Abbe’s late Grandma, and throughout ‘Oh Sweet Jaysus!’ and the rest of the set the raw, emotional delivery affects everyone present (quite a decent crowd for a Wednesday night between Christmas & New Year), bringing some to tears during ‘We’ll Take A Trip Up The Country’, another song lamenting her beloved Grandma.

 

Abbe herself wipes away tears during a truly amazing version of ‘Amazing Grace’ which relied on little more than that heartfelt, raw, pure voice. The set closes with blues standard ‘Spoonful’ and ‘Dream A Little Dream For Me’, and we are left wondering if there is anyone capable of rivalling Abbe’s interpretation of old blues, or her amazing voice.

 

 

We look forward to seeing her again soon, either solo or with The Rocking Pneumonia, or as The Devil & Abbe May.

 

9/10

 

SETLIST

You Gonna Get It
Crazy
Wang Dang Doodle
Storm
Oh Sweet Jaysus!
Oh Jesus
??
We’ll Take A Trip Up The Country
A Blackout In Your Town
Amazing Grace
Spoonful
Dream A Little Dream For Me