The Teskey Brothers’ ‘Live at the Forum’ is a much-needed burst of live music into an industry devastated by lockdown. Recorded during their four sold-out performances at the eponymous Theatre last year, the release compels the listener to rise to their seemingly cemented feet, shake off COVID cobwebs, and boogie away all isolation-induced ennui.
A talk with lead guitarist Sam Teskey sheds light onto how the live album harkens the group’s roots of busking and gigging around Melbourne since 2008.
“We’ve always really made the most of having a crowd to sort of feed off all throughout our years of performing,” Sam says. “Whether it was from the beginning, when we were playing a little pub with 15 people there, you know, we had to sort of adjust our sound, our volume, to sort of cater for what these listeners were wanting, and at that time they might just be eating dinner and chatting, you know?
“And I think as time went on and as sort of the banter grew and audiences started to want to get more engaged with music, we again sort of evolved our sound.”
This experience has given the Teskey Brothers the confidence and freedom to really tap in to what the audience is feeling and play to the energy in the room.
“The audience will hold on with something which will give us a moment of energy,” he says. “And because there's so much improvisation in our music, there is really nothing like that… Nothing like that conversation between the audience and the musicians.”
For the Teskey Brothers, the live platform holds the essence of soul music and the way they love to play.
“I've just always loved the recording of that time in the '60s and the '70s. All of those recordings and the musicianship, the way in which the bands would involve themselves with the crowd and feed off the crowd was for me the golden era of performance and recordings.
“So, I think it's very important for us to take to take these shows at the Forum,” he says. “We really wanted to document in the best way we could, and also give our fans, especially at this time, live music on record, something that really encapsulates our true nature of performing music.”
This romantic reinvigoration of the old ways of soul music drives the band’s inspired use of analogue tape to record the Forum sets.
“A great example is hearing Percy Sledge’s 'When A Man Loves A Woman,'” Sam explains. “When you press play on that track, you can hear the drums and all the instruments that are fading in and the volume slightly changing of them; you can hear the sound sort of come to life ten seconds into the track.
"It's just another element of magic to recordings. In an analogue world, you can hear the quirks. You can hear those adjustment of sound happening all in the moment.”
Sam pays credit to “mastermind” sound engineer Alex Bennett who is able to mix the analogue track into a seamless set that captures the iconic soulful sound of the '60s and '70s. The Teskey’s cover of John Lennon’s ‘Jealous Guy’, by way of Donny Hathaway, punctuates the band’s love of the era that they so perfectly personify.
Live at the Forum has the remarkable effect of making listeners instantly forget the current suspension of music festivals and closure of live venues. Instead, when listening, one feels as if they were planted in the Forum’s front row amongst a swaying mass. The tape machine recording laces the album with a timeless soul quality that will linger long after coronavirus lockdowns have become a memory. With the Teskey Brothers’ chemistry exploding off the record, Live at the Forum stays true to its name and makes you feel alive.
The Teskey Brothers' new album Live At The Forum is out now.