Vika and Linda Bull long ago set their own mark in the Australian performing and recording scene as vocalists.
From their opening nod to Aretha Franklin on this night, through some songs penned by Paul Kelly (sometimes with Dan Sultan and/or Kev Carmody), and with their own compositions, it was the sublime blood harmonies and a tight band that instantly won everyone.
Their repertoire has not changed substantially over the years, although the arrangements have been refreshed. If it wasn’t always right up front, that “Can I Get a Witness?” gospel aura was never far away. As a result, Kelly’s “Be Careful What You Pray For”, a staple of their shows, was spine-tingling.
A tribute to Mahalia Jackson, “I’m On My Way”, was simple and lovely, supported by Chris Bekker’s jazzy bass line. The Camilleri/Smith tune “Never Let Me Go”, from their days with The Black Sorrows band (who played at the same venue a few days earlier), was reinvigorated with a take-no-prisoners approach.
The sisters gave the Staple Singers’ “Slow Train” a plain and sympathetic rendering, Linda stretching the long notes with ease. While “The Parting Song”, a number about their parents’ burial wishes, could have been dolorous, it was not. Its overt island rhythms, courtesy of Peter Luscombe’s drums, gave extra punch.
Kelly’s “Smells Like Rain” was subdued and mesmerising, giving no warning that the rampant “Hard Love” was just around the corner, this time accentuating the back beat and featuring a scintillating guitar solo from Dion Hirini.
With delightfully rendered harmonies in an hour of diverse and engaging material, this was a revival show for the soul.
Vika & Linda Bull performed for one night only in the Garden of Unearthly Delights as part of the Adelaide Fringe, which has now finished.
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