The Black Sorrows

Photo by Tania Jovanovic

(…play Saint George’s Road (and more), Adelaide Guitar Festival, 15 July 2022)

Joseph Camilleri (b. 1948 in Malta) formed the seminal R & B / Rock band, Jo Jo Zep And The Falcons, in 1975, that crafted several classic songs (So Young, Hit And Run, Shape I’m In, we even liked the faux-disco Sweet) that would have been monster hits in any parallel universe. Real success didn’t come until 1983, when Camilleri created The Black Sorrows, with hits such as Hold On To Me, Harley and Rose, Chained To The Wheel, Never Let Me Go, Mystified and the Chosen Ones. While Joe is a consummate artist, TVC, having seen him in the Barossa Valley some years ago (he was terrific), went along to the Dunstan Playhouse with the queasy feeling well-known to pop fans: would the evening play out as comedian Tony Martin described some years ago, when his mates persuaded him out to see a Neil Diamond concert? “C’mon, it’ll be great, he’ll play “Crunchy Granola Suite,” – which he did, after several crap songs from his new album Lovescape.

Before that apprehension was resolved, Lecia Louise, a (very tall) guitarist, multi-instrumentalist and singer (Woodford Folk Festival – 2004/05 & 2007/2008, Woodford’s Dreaming Festival – 2009, Mullumbimby Festival – 2009/2010, The Quicksilver Pro – 2008, A La Carte in The Park – 2008, West End Festival – 2011 and featured at Joyfest), gave us a set of mostly unknown (to us) songs that ranged from old-school rock to country, including “Admirable Woman,” and one about the diverse qualities of men (may they never meet). She is a one-woman band, utilising synth, samples and pedal changes expertly, and has a strong good voice. And she did a great cover of the creepy song by War, “Low Rider,” so memorably used in The Young Poisoner’s Handbook. A great support.

And The Black Sorrows put our qualms to rest: with great backing – Claude Carranza (guitar/vocals), Mark Gray (bass/vocals), James Black (keyboards/vocals) and Tony Floyd (drums) – Joe Camilleri lead a full house through songs traversing the years, such as “Wednesday’s Child,” “Hold on to Me,” “Saint Georges Road,” “Livin Like Kings,” “Harley and Rose,” and “Tears for the Bride.”

Setting up Joe’s saxophone

And there was a barnstorming finale, “Shape I’m In.” We only clipped half a star off our review because we could have done with more.

après le show

Though in his career Camilleri has been described as an “incredibly poor record seller,” he’s said “I never signed up to make money, I signed up for the music.”  His music, (Saint Georges Road is his 50th album) remains of consistent high quality; his voice has stayed strong, his sax is mellow and pure, and he clearly is having loads of fun. And pleasing loads of people. That’s our definition of success.

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