Open Souls Nelson Arts Festival Mainstage Saturday 25 Oct
REVIEW: Within seconds of Open Souls’ first number, the empty dance floor of the Founders Park Festival Mainstage immediately filled with appreciative people ready to boogie.
Funk music is very hard to resist grooving to and the Nelson Arts Festival crowd clearly loved the night’s up tempo numbers: Tyra Hammond’s smooth and powerful vocals lifted the vibe satisfyingly high.
Open Souls officially split up in 2011 and so this was a reunion gig. The band clearly loved being back on stage together. They interacted with each other a lot, but it was Isaac ‘Aesh’ Aesili (trumpet) who chose to enthusiastically interact the most with the crowd and we loved him for doing this.
Open Souls are a multi genre band. They predominantly played funk and soul. The horn section and Tyra’s voice drove this sound home in numbers such as Turn It Up.
There were also several tracks straight out of Motown and the 50s, which made you want to bust out your best retro dance moves. The closing number Hold Me Close epitomized this. The video for this number has authentic 50s styling and looks amazingly retro.
The show also featured several hip hop influenced numbers, mostly in the first half, with Bjorn Peterson delivering mostly spoken or rapped lyrics, some with pretty gritty content. Most of these were taken from their album Kaleidoscope.
These more urban tunes were slower and although there was still a fat funked up sound under them, they felt somewhat at odds with the overall vibe of the night.
Peterson’s voice when he did sing one number was low key and limited in range. This was totally fine for this number and worked well as a more masculine counter urban sound. But it seemed at times as if there were two bands on stage, with Hammond and Peterson fronting two quite different sounds. And sometimes less is more.
Throughout the show, when Tyra was the solo vocal, her voice was a joy to listen to and to dance to and the crowd responded enthusiastically.