12 March 2024

Vanuatu visitors

As was the way of Europe at the time, France and England both claimed parts of the archipelago and managed it as the New Hebrides until Vanuatu took independence as a Republic in 1980so I wasn't at all surprised with a French-related duo arriving to play at Smiths, although arriving to celebrate Canberra Day may be another thing.  It's the first outing for joyously named Groovy Banana on this Australian tour.  But then for three years they knew and played with their guitarist offsider when he was resident in Vanuatu and now he's in Canberra; thus this gig, I guess. It was just a short gig on a Sunday afternoon and well attended, seemingly by the Vanuatu community.  Whatever, it was a great pleasure.  Their songs are original and short, so we heard ~15 in a one hour gig, and often French language but also often enough in English and I think one, a homesick Vanuatu song seemingly in the local language (Bislama).  Using their English nom de plumes, Gaga sang and played uke or bass, Ben played bass, guitar and uke, local ring-in Charlie played electric guitar (Telecaster) and took the solos.  He seemed to have a play list and charts on his stand.  This was friendly, inviting, joyous, even with some demanding themes, like domestic violence or addictions or temptations or toxic relationships or death with titles like Woman in love, Happiness particle, Dream technicolour or Paper plane.  The styles were bluesy or swing or related with identifiable chord patterns.  And it was all a pleasure.  To my ear, folky, locally relevant and emotionally true but presented with a smile.  I liked it and the joy in the room was evident.  Nice tele solos, too, clear and melodically true.  With the kids running around, this was a family or community outing of considerable joy.  Much enjoyed.

Groovy Banana performed at Smiths in the afternoon of Canberra Day.  GB comprises  Gaëlle Meheut (Gaga, vocals, uke, bass uke) and Benoît Heurault (Ben, uke, bass uke, guitar) and Charlie Jebb (electric guitar) sat in.

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