A full on force of unprecedented groove filled the Stag and Hunter for the launch of “Los Bastardos” the debut EP from Novocastrian outfit Justin Ngariki and the Dastardly Bastards on Saturday night. A packed out crowd of die-hard fans, family members, and many a lucky local who happened to stumble into the Stag and Hunter, were treated to a truly unique, unforgettable and wonderful gig experience.
Support act Bob Corbett who’s sharp Aussie twang and seamless stage presence set the tone of the evening with a perfect balance of his catchy cult classic originals such as “all my ex girlfriends live on islands” – a clear crowd favourite, and a mixture of eclectic covers. Completely comfortable on stage and no stranger to engaging with an ever-willing crowd, Bob is a truly talented musician and a long time friend of Justin and his so affectionately named fellow “bastards.” Corbett was the perfect choice as the support.
Whilst introducing the EP, Justin was so gracious and humbly soft spoken, and having never seen this band before, it added to my preconceptions of a run of the mill gig I was sure I was about to experience. How wrong I was. From the very first track the whole set was unapologetic, powerful and filled the room with an unrivaled electric energy. A complete and total fusion of extreme blues, rock, soul and something truly unique that I am yet to put my finger on, was thrown at the ever-willing crowd, an incredible onslaught of talent and sound.
Justin became this larger than life figure, with his connection to every track so paramount that you couldn’t help feel every note, every riff, every line and get lost in the sound. It was so rare and wonderful to see a crowd as cohesively enthralled and engaged by true talent. The combination of Rob Banks’ gutsy base lines and Robbie Long’s incredible riffs would have been enough to satisfy any music lover many times over, however, the added exceptionality of Jason Bones’ effortless yet oh so passionate saxophone, had the crowd jumping from their seats enthralled.
The combination of Justin and his fellow band mate’s ability to recreate an impromptu jam vibe, whilst maintaining the depth and substance demanded by any live audience resulted in an exciting and intimate experience. Every single track built effortlessly and was well balanced with the combination of full on big band numbers such as “Another Golden Day” and “Shake the Devil”, with the melancholy and depth of “I’m sorry”.
Everyone was there to see them play, to be enthralled and connect through music, and even as the last drinks were being called, the crowd (and even fellow band members) were demanding more (and more and more). A flawless bluesy cover of Etta James’ “I just want to make love to you” rounded out this incredible performance. I highly recommend catching Justin Ngariki and the Dastardly Bastards the very next chance you get, a truly unmissable performance.