The power of TikTok was never more evident than at Llewellyn Hall last night. The place was filled to capacity by excited TikTok fashionista’s of all ages.
Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox is a rotating musical collective founded by New York based pianist Scott Bradlee in 2011. Its forte is reworking popular modern music into different vintage genres, especially early 20th century forms such as swing and Jazz.
Postmodern Jukebox originated when Bradlee began posting weekly videos on YouTube. Most were filmed in Bradlee’s apartment living room but over time, the sets became more elaborate as the band covered songs by artists ranging from Lada Gaga to Katy Perry. As the popularity of the posts spread, the band started touring attracting ever larger audiences.
In 2014 Postmodern Jukebox initiated a talent search for which fans were encouraged to submit videos of themselves performing cover versions of Postmodern Jukebox posts for a chance to perform on an upcoming official video. Many of those winners were invited to tour with the band, which now undertakes regular sell-out concerts around the world, to which their Canberra concert last night attests.
Not being a TikTok devotee, none of the excellent performers were familiar to your reviewer, and as there were no programs or songlists available at the venue, nor were there any details of the performers in the pre-publicity, a frantic search of the internet on my return home was necessary to establish that the excellent artists whose performances I had witnessed were vocalists Tina Simone, Effie Passero and Stella Katherine Cole. The virtuoso tap dancer was Demi Remik, and the singer/compere was Freedom Young.
The red-hot band consisted of pianist, Grant Larcom and drummer, Dave Tedeschi, together with multi-instrumentalists, Tristan Cappel (saxophone), J.P.Floyd (trombone), Mitch Clews, (guitar) and Carlos Holguin (Bass).
However there was also another problem. Your reviewer was thoughtfully seated close to the stage in the fourth row. Llewellyn Hall is an excellent concert hall, with a stunning acoustic designed for unamplified sound. When sound enhancement is added much clarity is lost.
At this concert the amplification was set at stadium level, so from where your reviewer was sitting it was impossible to understand the announcements or follow the lyrics of the songs, as much of the sound mix simply turned to blare.
It should be noted however, that a conversation after the performance with an audience member seated towards the back of the hall, revealed that this was not his experience, and he was happy with the sound mix. As the sound desk was operated from the back of the room, the sound mix had obviously been set to favour this section.
Of the concert, which was very enthusiastically received by the audience, heavily tattooed, Mohawk coiffed singer, Effie Passero, earned standing ovations for her extraordinary renditions of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah and the Lizzo song Special.
New York based singer, Stella Katherine Cole, who boasts 300,000 TikTok followers, got the show off to a great start with her funky arrangement of Bill Joel’s Uptown Girl and sultry Jamaican vocalist, Tina Simone delighted with her sophisticated solos, but especially when she joined Effie Passero, Tristan Cappel and J.P.Floyd for a brilliant arrangement of Justin Bieber’s It’s Too Late To be Sorry.
The most unusual items however were those by YoungArts Gold Medal Award winning virtuoso tap dancer, Demi Remik, who contributed several arresting dance presentations, the most outstanding of which was her final medley in which she responded to rhythm challenges thrown at her by the musicians.
Sound problems apart, the response by the audience to this performance by Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox left little doubt that most will be lining up for the next Canberra visit by this talented outfit.
Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox – Life in the Past Lane Tour
Llewellyn Hall, William Herbert Place, Canberra
Performance: Thursday 31 August 2023
Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox continues it Australian tour. For more information, including dates and venues, visit: www.postmodernjukebox.com for details.
Image: Freedom Young (supplied)
Review: Bill Stephens OAM