Legendary Australian blues icon, Wendy Saddington, returns to the Melbourne stage on Wednesday night for a rare, intimate performance that’ll be enough to wake the dead.
When Noise11 caught up with Wendy, she and Henry Manetta had just been to see pianist Adam Rudegeair play with Bob Sedergreen at the Paris Cat. Adam and Henry’s hectic gig schedule is in fact part of how Wednesday’s concert came into being.
Wendy spoke of how it was at another gig, where Adam and Henry were performing a tribute to Etta James with Ruth Rogers-Wright at the Butterfly Club, that the idea was born for Wendy, Henry and Adam to put on a concert in a stripped back setting of voice and piano.
The show is called A Soul Séance, a name chosen by Henry, partially because he sees a sense of spirituality to what they’re doing with the music, and also because of Wendy’s strong spiritual side. “I like the ectoplasmic aspect as well,” Henry adds, describing the process of music conjuring up the spirits and, of course, the soul.
So what should the audience expect to experience on such a night?
“One would hope that they’d go away feeling exorcised,” says Henry slowly, with a grin.
A bemused Wendy added, “I don’t know anything about this side of Henry…”
What they did agree on is the experience of relief that can be gained through singing and playing music.
“When you’re singing, it’s a transport to another zone, once you finish it’s like you’ve sung all your burdens off your shoulders,” said Henry. “It’s a relief. And I’d like the audience to feel the same. It’s the blues thing – you sing it all out of you.”
Like Henry, Wendy’s passion for music is immediately evident, whether you’re listening to her astounding voice, or speaking to her about how she sees the role of music in our society.
“Singing should be natural…it’s natural for human beings to sing and dance. Everyone should do it,” says Wendy. “Unfortunately in this non-culture, there’s this belief that some can sing and others can’t – people say ‘you’ve got a good voice and you haven’t’. That’s not natural.”
So in A Soul Séance, Wendy will do what clearly comes very naturally to her, performing gems that span the breadth of her forty-five year career, including songs from her major influences Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone, and some new pieces hand-picked especially for this show.
From the late 60s on, Wendy Saddington has been a spearhead of artistic integrity. A touchstone of unique, impassioned and psychedelically wild energy, she broke the mould with her hallucinogenic screams, subtle nuances and theatrical appearance.
Described as a soul/jazz maverick, fellow vocalist Henry Manetta will open the show with a set of original songs and will also perform some duets with Wendy.
They will be accompanied by the remarkable Adam Rudegeair on piano and, judging by incidental conversations from the night Noise11 caught up with them, there’s likely to be a last-minute addition of a bassist to the line-up as well.
A Soul Séance will be happening at fortyfivedownstairs in the Melbourne CBD this Wednesday night, on the auspicious date of 12/12/12.