Ocean Alley Brisbane Review @ The Tivoli Theatre

Ocean Alley played The Tivoli Theatre 14 April, 2018.

Who doesn’t like a good brass section? And when the six-piece surprise you with a three-part harmony as well? Our borders are open to you, Tunes Of I, sirs.

These Kiwi reggae-roots dubbers supported Ocean Alley in NZ last year, and this year accompany them on our side of the pond for Ocean Alley’s national tour kicking off tonight (14 April) at this long-ago sold-out Brisbane show at The Tivoli Theatre.

Tunes Of I's guitarist looks like some way-cool-for-school celebrity straight out of the '70s, bass player adorned with dark sunnies and two brass players (trombone and saxophone) appropriately donning sports jackets.

A lot of the musical melody makes an exceptional unison blend of tones, with a heavy dose of spacey guitar effects: the sound of it feels like a smoke screen somehow, permeated with reggae groove and smooth-bass cohesion.

Creamy vocal harmonies weave around the brass lines, broken when the singer busts out an evil cackle, with heavy effects. Well it was black Friday yesterday. Seriously though, don’t lecture us on how to say “fish n cheaps”.

The band was majestically tight, interesting to watch and the drummer was incredible, virile, nubile; that man-bun, that drum solo at the end.

Initially I was thinking, with trepidation, about the logistics of dragging six people around on tour, but I soon forgot about that. The payoff here is incredible. Such style. Grace. Such swagger. Magnificence.

Ocean Alley’s six members arranged themselves differently on stage (click here to read our recent interview with Ocean Alley). Keys, drums and bass in the back row on three different height rises, like the podium at a medal awards ceremony; the three guitarists aligned one in front of each.

It looked fine from inside The Tivoli Theatre, but on the screen above the merch table their layout appeared truly cinematic. The light show has been carefully curated, at times making six look like two, three or four.

Their sound is accurate to the recordings. I’m sleepy and it just wants to wash over me and send me to a pillow under the stars. It’s everything I hoped for and this is just the first show of the tour.

For ‘Feel’, frontman Baden puts his guitar down and roams around, unleashing the full emotion in his voice and capitalising on his captaincy of stage presence. ‘Yellow Mellow’ sees him back on the strings and after a 90-minute set Baden begins the last song solo, lights down, and the band gradually chimes in.

Are they really going to do an encore after a set that long? Yep. They play two more extended tracks, the last being ‘Happy Sad’ during which they unleash an absolute ocean of confetti and smoke (no pun intended).

Guitarist for local ambient rock band Huntington, Kristen, described it as “the coolest show I’ve seen so far this year”.

It actually does feel a bit like I’m on ‘Holiday’.

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