Reviewed on Monday May 12

More than just a great band to say aloud, The Woohoo Revue are one of those madcap, energetic acts who could probably power a small neighbourhood were they ever connected to the electricity grid. A kind of burlesque, gypsy swing outfit who have been loaded into a circus cannon and fired onto stage, they are a band who would be most at home playing for an audience of similar rapscallions gathered around a bonfire, swilling unmentionable cocktails from jugs while wolves snatch the unwary and drag them howling into the trees… Colourful if slightly ramshackle, in other words, and able to whip the audience into a suitable whirling frenzy for headliners, The Perch Creek Family Jugband.

The last of their Australian shows promoting second album Jumping On The Highwire, the gig also functions as the official launch of the Newtown Social Club (formerly the Sandringham Hotel), and does so in style. The four-member family troupe (plus boyfriend on bass) has some of the most haunting and hypnotic tunes – ‘Something In The Valley’, ‘Big Things Calling’, ‘The Great Unknown’ – that slide effortlessly into more upbeat numbers like ‘Bitchin’ Betty Lou’ and album single ‘Where You Been’. They’re a bewildering talented crew, with some of the most arresting harmonies you’re likely to hear anytime soon (and though the album is strong, catching the band live is where these songs truly soar).

Singing duties are spread out more or less evenly across the band, and each singer brings their own style and substance to the performance – elder sister Camilla acts as gregarious barker and train whistle extraordinaire, while younger sister Eileen is the big-voiced troublemaking troubadour happy to step offstage and take the performance into the crowd. Brothers Christi and Lear are a remarkably gifted pair, sharing vocals while finding the time to break out the harmonica, drums, washboard, saw and trombone throughout the night (and also adept at providing a hint of bizarre danger to the show, as the protruding trombone somehow manages to avoid whacking an oblivious Eileen in the face time and time again).

The sound at the new band room is fantastic, and from the very first song a brace of revellers had stormed the front of stage; in no time at all, the rest of the crowd was up and dancing, and so the night swung sweetly on. Both are bands you’d be crazy not to catch.

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