2021 Sounds Better Together: Jimmy Barnes, The Teskey Brothers, Vika & Linda, Darlinghurst @ Rochford Wines, Saturday 23 January , 2021

Feature image: Josh Teskey, Jimmy Barnes, and Vika and Linda Bull
Credit (this and all images): David Harris

This COVID-Safe concert and showcase of homegrown talent – Jimmy Barnes, The Teskey Brothers, Vika & Linda and Darlinghurst – at Rochford Wines was brought to us by Mushroom Group and Visit Victoria, and oh boy! Were we frothing to soak up some wine, sunshine and live music vibes!? Gigs are back, baby, and we’re never gonna take them for granted again.

JIMMY BARNES

The Barnes family’s Facebook live performances were exactly what we needed to help us survive lockdown. One of the 200-or-so songs that Barnsey posted to Facebook during iso, accompanied by wife Jane on guitar (and his own thigh slapping percussion, in this particular case), was Secret Love by Doris Day. “If you had told me I would’ve been doing a Doris Day song a couple of years ago, I would’ve punched you in the face!” Jimmy hilariously declares during his set this evening. Barnsey commends Jane for teaching herself how to play guitar and bagpipes during lockdown, and tonight she aptly sports a tartan miniskirt to demonstrate her chops on both of these instruments (as well as BVs).

Vika & Linda Bull and Josh Teskey are welcomed back to the stage to alternate verses, alongside Barnes, during a blistering cover of The Weight by The Band. Wow, what a collection of golden larynxes! Shutting Down Our Town certainly resonates with Melburnians, now more than ever, after being locked down for pretty much all of 2020. Singalongs are deafening during the haunting majesty of Flame Trees and the raucous-but-harrowing ode to Vietnam vets, Khe Sanh – we’d forgotten how fun it is to belt out lyrics in competition with a nearby a stranger (socially distanced, obvs) to see which one of us can nail the most lines!

THE TESKEY BROTHERS

As if we weren’t stoked enough to be here, the joy on the faces of musicians up on stage – many playing their first actual gigs since February last year – is infectious and heartwarming. The ARIA Award-winning Teskey Brothers – Josh and Sam Teskey, the rest of the band are brothers from other mothers plus two sisters from other misters on brass – hail from Warrandyte, but their soulful sounds are world class. Such is the quality of their original blues and soul tunes that we could’ve done without the INXS cover (Never Tear Us Apart), but there’s no denying these local heroes just get better and better.

Musician on stage with guitar

VIKA & LINDA

Who didn’t set their alarms for 10.45am on Sundays during lockdown for an injection of soul courtesy of Vika & Linda’s Facebook live Sunday Sing Songs? These proved to be the uplifting medicine that we needed to change the colour of our dreary days of solitary confinement. Compiling these songs for their Sunday (The Gospel According To Iso) album release (reviewed by us here), and also putting out their #1-charting best-of ‘Akilotoa (Anthology 1994 – 2006), the Bull sisters are now strutting into the spotlight with purpose after being the background singers of choice for many legendary Australian acts – including Paul Kelly and The Black Sorrows – over the years.

Before singing I’m On My Way, Vika explains the sisters first heard the Mahalia Jackson version of this song when they were kids, but truly fell in love with it upon hearing the mighty Chris Wilson (RIP) perform his rendition at the Espy.

We’re then treated to In A Land Where We’ll Never Grow Old from the Sunday (The Gospel According To Iso) record. Pointing out that a special guest, Paul Kelly, features on the recorded version of this song, Vika chuckles: “We gave him a Bull sandwich!” Vika & Linda close their set with Feeling Good (that we are, thanks!) and those lung-busting extended notes are unshakable. All hail our Tongan kweens!

Vika Bull

DARLINGHURST

How have we never heard of this band before!? Holy moly! This genetically blessed quartet perform a selection of country songs and totally win us over with their polished performance, effortless musicianship and flawless vocals. And to think they most probably weren’t able to rehearse in the same room for the majority of last year! Be sure to wrap your ears around Darlinghurst’s catchy new single, So Long So Long.

Some post-show research reveals that Darlinghurst’s singer-songwriter/guitarist Jason Resch played guitar on Gabriella Cilmi’s Sweet About Me, has worked for the UK hit factory Xenomania (co-writing The Promise by Girls Aloud, which topped the UK charts!) and also co-wrote More Than A Dream by Pet Shop Boys. Vocalist Cassie Leopold also boasts previous experience as a backing vocalist for celebrated artists such as Olivia Newton-John and Christine Anu.

Upcoming 2021 Sounds Better Together shows:

Ross Wilson & Fergus James: 27 Jan @ Theatre Royal, Castlemaine
The Living End & Bakers Eddy: 27 Jan @ Forum Theatre
Didirri & Mia Wray: 28 Jan @ The Whalers Hotel, Warrnambool
Pierce Brothers & Shannen James: 29 Jan @ Westernport Hotel, San Remo
James Reyne, Daryl Braithwaite, Vika & Linda + Mia Wray: 30 Jan @ Mallacoota Oval, Mallacoota