So Newcastle is a pretty small place relative to other cities. Geographically we’re probably too close to Sydney for artist to warrant touring here which sucks. However once in a blue moon Newcastle strikes the jackpot and someone has a moment where they decide touring Newcastle is profitable and a good idea and it’s those moments that are cause for a mass outbreak of joy amongst us Novacastrians. So Saturday night crammed into a packed out Small Ballroom for the first night of two sold out shows my body was ready for SAFIA.
Opening act Boo Seeka had really treated the Newcastle audience to a show with their set filled with majestic guitars and beautiful melodies. The guys had just absolutely slated Triple J’s Like A Version earlier that week so there was an added feeling of pride and self-assurance to the band when they took the stage.
Whilst standing around in the mosh waiting for the set to begin you couldn’t help but feel the good vibes that were coming from the crowd. There was a distinct electricity in the air, a sense of wonderment, excitement and good time feels that enveloped the crowd, all of which was just magnified to the absolute maximum when the Canberra trio stepped out on the stage.
I’ve seen SAFIA play twice before (strangely enough both in Newcastle supporting Lorde and Elizabeth Rose actually) and it was incredible to see how far the boys have come since the nervous trio crammed onto a too small stage opening for Elizabeth Rose. Ben Woolner (lead vocals) is a powerhouse whose vocal control and range is something to make all over male vocalist jealous. Sauntering around the stage moving around from behind his Novation Impulse setup, interacting with the stage and bouncing with energy the front man was in his prime that night.
Blasting through the set the boys range is impressive. One moment they’re playing a soul filled almost jazz/trap inspired track and the next there’s bounding electronic sampling and huge anthemic chords that filled the room. The deviously dark and sickly sweet Counting Sheep and it’s brother track Paranoia, Ghosts & Other Sounds got some great responses from the crowd as did their soft and tender track Listen To Soul, Listen To Blues.
It was great to also hear some new track start to creep their way into SAFIA’s set list. The guys have been building an impressive repertoire of tracks for the past few years so it was great to see some of the lesser heard stuff get some stage attention. The biggest crowd response though of the night definitely came in the form of their Peeking Duk cola Take Me Over. It’s high energy bodies moving and writhing in the moment that was unrivalled on the night.
It really is a special moment when a band like SAFIA bring a national tour to Newcastle’s doorstep, and even though some members of the audience got a little carried away at one point I feel like we gave the boys the warm welcome and round of applause that they deserve. The Embracing Me national tour is only just kicking off with so many more dates to come for the boys it’s still early days but with the unwavering energy and unbeatable spirit that SAFIA bring to the table every performance you just know that the rest of the dates are going to be killer also.