Monday, 7 July 2014

Gig Review - Rita Satch

Rita Satch
Live @ The Toff In Town (26/06/14)
Words and pics by Lou Endicott

I love it when I get tickets to see musicians I haven’t seen or heard before. And I love it even more when they blow me out of the water and into their fan Queendom immediately.

Such was the case with the beautiful and talented Rita Satch who I saw at the Toff in Town. I had heard just one song before the gig – and it was a brief listen while doing a hundred other things on my to-do list. But I liked the sound she created instantly.

Rita emerged on the stage greeted by a packed out venue and a hell of a lot of audience love – made evident by the cheering. Obviously I came late to the fan party here. It was obvious that Rita has a solid (and growing) fan base. Wearing towering heels, a see-through black lacy top, high waisted shorts and a cute as a button wide brim black hat, Satch was every bit the star of the show. With her long swinging brown locks, enigmatic stage presence and talent to spare, I knew I was in for a great ride.

Backing our star vocalist was a band of such tightness and extraordinary skill and groove that I was just as smitten with their contribution as I was with Rita and her lovely voice. We were launched solidly into neo soul/jazz territory – complete with the white hot sound of trumpet, dirty hip-swinging guitar, thumping drums, delicious building organ sounds and some stellar male backing vocals. This song – which I believe was called ‘Heartbreaker’ was a fantastic upbeat, energetic set that promised of much more to come throughout the night.

The second song in had me thinking of Amy Winehouse. I am sure that Rita Satch must get this comparison all the time. Her notes held that some bright, bold energy of Winehouse as well as capturing an essence of some of the blues divas from a bygone era. My friend who came with me also compared her vocally to Adele. Whichever artist she may have reminded us of, one thing was clear. Rita’s voice was the hero of the sound we heard – and it took us up to another level. I love that wonderful feeling of transportation that some artists deliver when they open their soul and channel their craft. This song had some funky old school bell samples that again rooted the sound in that 60s soul vibe. There was an excellent section of bringing all the elements together with male and female vocals crooning “Whoah oh oh oh oh” at the same time. As an added treat in this song, Rita showed us another one of her musical talents as she played a hollowed out electric violin. The effect added a twist of gypsy to the sound.

Next up was the title track of Rita’s first EP Awoken. This song, we were told, was themed around coming out of a dark space and knowing/trusting that there is more to look forward to. Some warm and delightful keys brought the song together here. I enjoyed dancing to this groove – it was laid back – but definitely danceable. As the song continued I was again taken by the talent of the band. This time the keyboard player got a starring part. Gideon Price played a heart melting (and audience wowing) solo midway through. Rita graciously acknowledged his skill at the end of the solo. It was around here I started to think that perhaps the band had had jazz experience. I love watching jazz musicians take solos and I love how the other musicians on the stage give them the nod – and hence remind the audience (if needed) that what they are watching is quality, pure and true.

The next song ‘What Has She Got That I Don’t?’ followed through with the hip-shaking groove. This song of lost love - a timeless tale - hit the emotive head right on the nail. If you were an ex of Rita Satch, I could imagine that this song would be a bittersweet pill to take. Delivered with a touch of sexiness and much attitude, this track was one of my favourites of the set.

The lost love theme continued with 'She Don’t Love You Like I Do”. Rita again treated us to burning violin. The effect was a warm muddy, gooey sound bath in the form of a lament a gypsy might sing. Once the vocals hit however we were back into that tasty new soul groove that I was oh-so-digging. I was reminded of Erykah Bardu throughout with the way Rita hit the fast rhymes smoothly and seemingly effortlessly. Someone around here yelled out “Yeah, sing it girl!” and I must say sing it she did over the sassy, saucy, slick as butter grooves her talented band provided. The audience was in the palm of Rita’s hand as she took the mic out of the stand and bopped up and down with her face switching from ecstasy to agony - proving she is a true showstopper of a performer. I have been singing this song around my house ever since the gig.

A cover was next; ‘I Put A Spell On You’. Needless to say, Rita nailed it with her big soul scoops and precision vocal belts. The trumpeter came in again to almost lead the intensity of the outfit as the keyboardist provided just the right amount of texture and shimmer. After the cover Rita told us "..this next one is another tragic love song". It was called ‘Forget Your Love’ and featured some gospel inspired keys – with a big piano sound and those big chord turnarounds that revival music is famous for. The sound built up well with swells of organ underneath really nailing the gospel turned soul revival feel. I loved the lyrics; "Forget your love, forget your happiness, the good the bad, I just can't remember to forget."

Around this point in the gig Rita reminded us that this was in fact an EP launch. We were told a little about how Satch song writes here too. All songs are originally recorded on a phone as voice memos before developing into what we were listening to with a full band and polished sound. The next song up ‘Go’ we were told changed dramatically from its initial voice recording and evolved into something entirely different. I love hearing stories on how an artist creates their music, so I appreciated this little interlude. ‘Go’ started with some breath taking Spanish guitar (again reminding the audience of the calibre and versatility of the band at hand). The first vocal hints then ebbed in with some warm and inviting “Mmmmmmmmm” sounds until a little electronic ambient soundscape tool the song into a whole new territory with a slicker texture to move it along into a laid back pop groove. In my notes here I wrote “perhaps a little like Janelle Monae but doused in a fine chardonnay”. I guess the mellowed and slick vibe had me thinking of pop – but just chilled enough to mellow out the listener in very classy way. Satch was spot on vocally at every turn in her clarity and strength. There was a very funky dance break that we were told “You better dance to this!” and dance we did as the song switched seamlessly into the modern hip hop classic by De La Soul (that featured Chaka Khan); ‘All Good’.

After this Rita thanked the room acknowledging that there was a lot of love in the room. The last song ‘Not Ready For Love’ took us out with lots of solos from the band and some incredible vocals. An encore seemed inevitable. And there were a few call outs for it from the audience. Unfortunately, there was no return to the stage for Rita Satch and band at this gig. But perhaps leaving us wanting more was a tactical ploy. I would definitely go see this artist and her talented band play again – and this time take a few more friends with me to groove on the dance floor.

It’s pretty clear that I am smitten with this artist and her music. Do yourself a favour and get on the fan bandwagon before Rita Satch plays the larger venues that she is clearly headed for. And by all means snap up her EP and support incredible emerging artists. For under $9 for five tracks – I’ve already bought my copy.

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