Prove your humanity

Jordan Rakei’s Perth stint at Jack Rabbit Slims contained a delicious mix of funked out, cool jazz entwined with the rambunctious qualities of a contemporary R&B club. Supported by the likes of Nicole Filev, Grievous Bodily Calm, POW! Negro and Ruby May, JRS was jazzed up the max—just for one night it could be possible that the Ellington Jazz Club wasn’t the most jazzed up place in Perth—in fact this was where it was at for a slice of Sunday night gigging.

Nicole Filev was up first, filling up the venue with the bouncy rhythms of 70s funk, getting the punters warmed up in a heated groove only the soul-train could compete with. When it came around for Grievous Bodily Calm to hit the stage, some serious Chet Baker vibes were given from lead trumpeter. Possessing the characteristics of a modern band, but overlayed with the cool, crispness of an old-school jazz quartet, it was a surprise no one had lit excessively large Cuban cigars to mimic the environment of a haughty jazz club—goddamn fire and public health regulations.

POW! Negro turned it up on the vibe dial, pushing it to the max, and fronted by charismatic showman and rapper Nelson Mondlane; he ripped straight into the set, with his words being matched—no, exceeded by his moves. Jumping off stage and climbing over the boundary, Mondlane then spread and contorted his limbs across the stage, even cheekily flashing a menacing grin towards the crowd. If there was a crossroads between hip-hop and an uber-flamboyant Disney supervillain, Mondlane would probably be it.

Ruby May brought some old-school motown to the stage, fused with even more funk and jazz. Donning a fabulous jumpsuit, her fashion game was on point as was the rest of her band. Musically as well as aesthetically, the band had it right. A next level aura of funk starting to form, it was hard not to allow the music to envelope the punters in a flurry of quick-paced rhythm and jaunty, jiggy fun.

Headliner Jordan Rakei smoothed his way through whilst artfully playing at his keys. With murmurs amongst the crowd describing his music as “ethereal”, it could be just that, with his vocals smoothing the keen ears of many punters. Once again, keeping the wild juicy jazz theme running throughout the night, the crowd went crazy over his tantalizing rhythms. There was an almost latin, bossa-nova feel to his music. Making you ascend to his lilting vocals but then crash back down to earth to a heady drum beat, there was a brief pause of what was supposed to be an encore—the punters were left all souled out from Rakei’s smooth music, holding on to the transformative qualities of his exceptional verses well unto the night.