With all the media focus on climate change, Perth should be proud to have her own meteorological phenomenon. Adam Hall and the Velvet Playboys are a six-piece combo who have been shaking the Mustang Bar in Northbridge every Friday night for several years. While the boys on rhythm lay down a groove that Les Hiddens and a four-wheel drive couldn’t escape, the brass blows up a storm, and the timbre of vocalist Adam Hall ranges from smooth and smoky to being simply on fire!

Last Friday night, the 8th of June, visitors to the Mustang Bar were packed together tighter than the clothes in a supermodel’s suitcase: people were standing four deep around the dance floor. To move to the other side of the room you needed a sherpa and a packed lunch; no one minded because the Velvet Playboys were in superlative form.

And the reason for the squeezin’? The VPs launched their debut CD, I’ve Got News For You, which fans of the band – including the members of the Perth Swing Dance Society – have long waited for. In honour of the occasion, there were dance routines from three swing dancing schools: SwingCrazy, SwingIt! and SwingZing. The dance highlight of the night, though, was the Sugar Blue Dancers, whose performances were a reconstructive surgeon’s delight: the eyes and jaws of the male spectators were popping and dropping, while their girlfriends gave themselves permanent wrinkles from scowling at their errant beaux. And me? I tried not to look; it would have been bad for my heart.

The VPs have two standout traits. First, they are a band, not individuals merely playing the same song. Each of them does what they need to make the song swing; whether that’s holding the fort and playing rhythm while someone else goes solo, or weaving their own Terpsichorean magic. They each play their part: that’s why they have such a great sound.

The second trait of the VPs is they have fun: hearing brass players Tim and Mic singing falsetto on Saphronia B (‘I surrender, I surrender!’ – it’s track 11 on the CD) is hilarious. Even with his responsibility to lead the band, Mr Adam Hall himself is not above strutting his funky stuff; he can Lindy Hop, but it’s more enjoyable to see he and Tim Forster duelling with scats (singing syllables instead of words, like ‘do-be-do-be-do’ or even ‘ee-ai-ee-ai-oh’).

The CDs were on sale for $22 through the night. I’m in the middle of reviewing it, so I’ll write it up later; however, this I can say: I’ve Got News for You does justice to the Velvet Playboys repertoire and style. The only problem is that there just isn’t enough of it. To better appreciate the band, you have to hear them playing live. You can’t help but dance.

Have a squiz at their website – http://www.adamhall.com.au

copyright 2007 Troy Grisgonelle.

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