Review: The Ray Mann Three live at the Vanguard, Sydney, 21.06.08

The musical atmosphere’s right for a band like this to break into the bigtime

By Tony Two-Tone

Can I begin by saying this was just a really, really great night. The Vanguard was sold out and there was a distinct buzz surrounding soul trio Ray Mann 3’s [sic] album launch. They’ve been playing around town since 2005, most prominently their monthly residency at Tonic Lounge, so people have had a chance to catch them here and there. Tonight though, was all about them…

I think the crowd knew we were in for something special when the Ray Mann 3 took the stage, there was a palpable tension. The boys, snappy dressers that they are, carry a lot of style and personality with them. Frontman Ray (ex Kid Confucious [sic] guitarist) steals a lot of the attention with his voice, but Bart and Byron on drums and bass respectively are not to be outdone.

I feel one of the reasons that the band has been able to craft this upwards trajectory for themselves is the strength of the individual players, they just wring so much life from their instruments. The solos throughout the show really drove home the extent of the talent. It’s classic soul music they play with a modern funk twist. Ray has a knack for a well selected cover, and it’s when you hear his versions of D’Angelo’s ‘Brown Sugar’ or The Roots ‘The Seed V2.0’ that the ‘wow factor’ of his vocals sinks in. Tonight however was all about the band’s own songs, and they proved what a strong repertoire they’ve developed over time.

The momentum built steadily through the slinky pink panther style soul, the boys had more and more fun and the Vanguard was grooving about as much as the Vanguard can. They must have felt the hush as they played, the crowd was well and truly drawn in. One of their signature tunes, ‘Opa Opa’, with Bart on the mic always seems to reduce the trio to fits of laughter. It’s an enjoyable spectacle. Then they bowed and left the stage for barely a second and were back with a classy encore that included some Zappa-esque psychedelic guitar, the big single ‘Smile’ and an ultimately feelgood cover of Elton’s ‘Benny And The Jets’. It was a fantastic jam, delivered with such a level of confidence you feel sure they’ll have to go on to bigger and better things.

The musical atmosphere’s right for a band like this to break into the bigtime, the Bamboo’s have done it, and I think the Ray Mann 3 have the mass appeal to sail even further than the Melbourne funk outfit. Best of luck to you guys.

Source: The Brag, Sydney, 30.06.08

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