By TERRI LEE FATOUROS
I’d been meaning to catch up with Safari Motel and check out their new band line up for some time now and circumstances had prevented it. However, recently the God’s shone down on me and cleared my way to share a relaxing Sunday afternoon session with them at The Heritage in Balnarring.
Got to say, I was gob smacked. Don’t get me wrong, they were good two years ago but man they’ve become polished and in Nicole Nehemia’s words, “we have found our belonging together and now have a tight, full big sound”.
Damn right with that, Nicole.
With new man Liam Kealy on Hammond keys rocking it and Dean James producing first class riffs on lead, the four originals of Nicholas Pearce-Sax, Jason Nehill-bass, Neil Richardson-percussion and Nicole Nehemia-vocals are paramount in sound and their panache is making huge headway on the gig circuit.
Safari Motel are seeped in soul, funk and blues and combined with their big band sound is really rocking it. Over the past two years they have been playing regularly at festivals around the state and have attracted a huge and loyal fan base. Their mix of feel-good, high-energy original funk, groove, blues and soul music has earned them a place in the thriving Melbourne music scene as one of its most sought after live acts.
The band performs regularly at many major music festivals including Motor City Music, Echuca Winter Blues, Wangaratta Jazz, Blues Train and Docklands plus a heap of others.
Recently, these talented musicians were finalists in the MBAS International Blues Challenge and had their debut album in the Top 30 of the Australian Blues and Roots Airplay Chart; a tremendous accomplishment to be proud of.
With a growing and demanding fan base they were inspired to release their second album called Safari Motel Live @The Factory.
Its sophisticated, sexy sound doesn’t disappoint, especially with the teaser of an original song thrown in the mix entitled Trouble, which ultimately is preparing everyone for their third album consisting of all originals. Can’t wait for that one.
Nehemia’s vocals still holds that intensity of range, and if any change is noticeable after all this time, it is her ability to project her voice more so; I reckon she could break glass if push came to shove as she can really belt out a song. However, just as easily she can do soft, mellow and sensual lyrics and is perfect as front woman for her band.
During the break while Nehemia and I chatted, we were constantly interrupted with fans buying their second album, and I guess it’s no wonder cause they have cleared that first hurdle and are truly on the up and coming with a sound seeped in funky, rock imbued soul indeed.
As the day drew to an end, Safari Motel ended their set by singing Stevie Wonder’s song Very Superstitious but afterwards an encore was literally demanded. Nehemia asked “You want fast, slow or sleazy?” and of course sleazy won out.
In true Safari Motel style, they did a superb rendition of Rock Me Baby All Night Long, and yes it was sung sleazy but loaded with class.
Safari Motel are pulling no punches; they’ve got the ingredients to go a long way in this industry, they are the real deal in funky soul and a band to watch out for.