Taking it easy

Taking it easy
Rhonda Dredge

The last song they played before the encore was Hope for a Generation.

The sun had gone down on the Sidney Myer Music Bowl.

Vocalist Joe Dukie had been looking ultra-cool in his newboy cap and dark glasses.

But towards the end of the concert, he was hatless and glassless, about as flamboyant as he got.

Sometimes this mesmeric, disciplined band was so subtle you could have sunk into the grass.

The sweet vocals, the trance-like repetitive rhythm, enhanced by MC Slave on turntable, spoke directly to needy locked-down bodies.

“How are you doing now?” Dukie asked, as he supplied the medicine.

Fat Freddy’s Drop was playing in the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, and it was just what the doctor ordered.

The concert was a sell-out but those with blankets were making space for the latecomers and giving up small patches on the hilltop.

You could lie back and look at the stars and some stranger would scrunch up his jacket for a pillow.

Kindness was back in a big way as the band massaged bruised egos and tight shoulders.

For those who wanted more there was Chopper Reeds, larger than life sax and horn player, who alone fired up in a physical kind of way.

His horn was sweet, his portly salutations a nod to pure pleasure and letting go.

There was one fancy hat in the crowd, but the rest was pure chill against a call to bloom.

The lack of chat and greetings from this more-than-cool band from New Zealand was refreshing.

There was nothing about soul; this concert was soul.

The message was in the lyrics and there was no mistaking it: the only hope for this generation is taking it easy.

Fat Freddy’s Drop, Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne International Jazz Festival, October 15. •

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