Published on theMusic.com.au, Feb 2016
Simply Red, Natalie Imbruglia, Morgan Bain
Kings Park & Botanic Garden
A little more pop and soul than blues and roots these days, local singer-songwriter Morgan Bain did a fine job of welcoming those brave enough to face the harsh 40 degree sun with a guitar, keyboard and series of sampled loops — jumping between all three during numerous songs.
Bain’s transformation in recent months is definitely a step in an exciting direction and promises big things from the 21-year-old.
Now a British citizen, Natalie Imbruglia wasted no time in becoming reacquainted with Perth fans after a long stint away, dishing up five-part harmonies in Wishing I Was There and an epic, sweeping chorus with Beauty On The Fire.
A soft version of Daft Punk’s Instant Crush from her 2015 covers record, Male, took things down an interesting path while pop hits Smoke, Torn and Big Mistake rolling out as the sun fell behind the stage set the scene perfectly.
The only thing the set could have done without was The Cure’s Friday I’m In Love led by banjo. A yee-haw has no place in or around a Robert Smith melody.
There was Big Love for the grand entrance of Simply Red, fans welcoming the band to the stage for a 30th anniversary celebration that doubled as a reunion show after a five-year hiatus.
Main man Mick Hucknall was on fire from the first soulful lyric sung. Never Never Love tugged on the heartstrings beforeNight Nurse took things in an unexpected reggae direction, slowly shifting into funk with Thrill Me.
For Your Babies and a cover of The Stylistics’ You Make Me Feel Brand New kept the crowd vocals going and added a sea of rhythmic, swaying arms into the mix before climaxing at crowd favourites Stars, Fairground and If You Don’t Know Me By Now.
The delicate guitar riffs and pulsating bass held their grip on the audience for most of the set, allowing Hucknall to manipulate emotions with his flawless and instantly recognisable vocals. If anyone had made a deal with the devil for a perfect singing voice, it would have been him.
They were romantic to the point of comedic value at times, especially when overzealous sax solos were layered upon synth and chimes. But that’s what makes them so great. 30 years later and Simply Red are still masters of soul.