REVIEW: Petunia and The Vipers St Bonaventure's 9/10
PETUNIA And The Vipers who hail from Western Canada sound as if they should be a female-fronted rockabilly band, but actually the lead singer's real name is Ron Fortugno and their music drifted across almost every genre of American music.
There was a lot of rockabilly but also touches of western swing, bluegrass, old style country, jazz, blues, ragtime, rock, punk and even some Romany gypsy jazz thrown in for good measure.
Looking suave in a smart black suit Fortugno opened the show with the longest single note you've probably ever heard before launching into the upbeat Bicycle Song.
That sounded as if it ought to have been sung by Jimmie Rodgers and then a quick change of pace to a rumba rhythm for Bright Light.
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In the superbly titled The Ugliest Bitterest Coldest Dreary Place I've Ever Seen he showed that the art of yodelling is not quite dead, Way Down Here was a bluesy singalong with which we all joined in but I'm Shakin' was pure old school rock'n'roll.
The epic The Ballad Of Handsome Ned sounded like it was a typical cowboy song but turned out to be a homage to a Canadian musician. Pure cowboy though was a cover of Marty Robbins' Big Iron.
Any slight thoughts that sometimes you might be listening to a country music Tom Waits were confirmed in the standout song Mercy . And then there was Petunia the crooner in a countrified version of Hoagy Carmichael's Stardust.
There was a lot of tongue-in-cheek humour but also a lot of darkness. Even in the quietly beautiful The Cricket Song there was a twist.
The four-man Vipers were spot on most of the time and some of their improvised solos were a bit special but they also had moments when they were a little ragged.
The one constant throughout was Petunia's voice which effortlessly ranged from deep and throaty to choir boy soprano. A remarkable, highly enjoyable upbeat show.