Reviewed on Saturday October 19. 

When it comes to his output, Cody ChesnuTT doesn’t like to look back. Yet, playing tracks almost exclusively from his 2012 album Landing On A Hundred, ChesnuTT managed to rewind the clock 40 years.

 

From the average sound quality to the fact that the star was signing merchandise by the time we’d reached the exit, this was about as close to a ’70s soul revue as you can get before being forced to use the word ‘tribute’.

 

Wearing a lion on each shoulder and a large bow in her hair, Sydney soul singer Ngaiire, in support, had turned the African up to 11. Inviting sartorial comparisons to Erykah Badu seemed dangerous but aurally she is closer to Little Dragon’s Yukimi Nagano. A sweet voice and the spacey soul of ‘Dirty Hercules’ certainly deems debut LP Lamentations worthy of closer inspection.

 

Cody ChesnuTT’s besuited four-piece band warmed the crowd with the Blaxploitation funk of ‘That’s Still Mama’, and the Atlanta-born star ­­− sporting a bushy beard and his now-standard military helmet − provided a glimpse of his vocal ability on the smooth ‘Til I Met Thee’. A slow a capella intro of “I used to smoke crack back in the day / I used to gamble rent money and lose” began a lengthy version of ‘Everybody’s Brother’ and repeated crowd choruses of “No turning back”.

 

Unusually, it was a love song that ignited the party. Performing ‘Love Is More Than A Wedding Day’, ChesnuTT found his groove. He told how the lyrics came to him when his 12-year marriage hit a rocky patch; part singing, part preaching. All at once he evoked Marvin (voice), Otis (energy) and Al Green (delivery).

 

Notable in its absence from the encore was ChesnuTT’s only proper hit, ‘The Seed’, but the sweetness with which he explained why he couldn’t perform it was refreshing, as he ad-libbed “Thank you for allowing me to grow as an artist”. ChesnuTT’s perspective on life may have changed but he remains an eccentrically captivating talent.

 

 

BY DAVID WILD

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