Posted 12 September 2016 by Adz Carter
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Well, cue up an 80s compilation, because it is indeed now ‘The Final Countdown’! Hard to believe we’re already at this point, but yesterday was the Semi Final of the Passport To Airlie band comp, showcasing the best in original music that you’re likely to find anywhere. Having seen all five of these acts before, and knowing what they were capable of, it was of course a real treat to see them all a second time around.


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Codi Kaye got the Semi Final off and running with ‘Run Away’, immediately reminding everyone who was lucky enough to catch her in Heat Two, just how awe inspiring her vocals are. Also, once again, with her acoustic guitar, she proved that she was no one trick pony. ‘Lonely Boy’ by The Black Keys may’ve run its course a little by now, but Codi’s cover of it was very up-tempo, as she certainly put her signature on it. As I’ve said before too, I could take or leave Ed Sheeran, but with a voice as vibrant as Codi’s, her Ed Sheeran cover was very enjoyable (and I wager that Ed Sheeran couldn’t cover Codi as well as she covers him). By this point Codi’s voice was so powerful the presence of a microphone almost seemed redundant. ‘Wrong Person’ told a tale of hindsight, reflecting on a relationship that was a waste of time, much like a song by someone like Natalie Imbruglia (only better), while Codi kept the break up theme going with a version of ‘Break Even’ by The Script, performed with such passion. Codi’s slower tempo version of Dolly Parton’s iconic ‘Jolene’ had the audience hanging on her every word (and note), while an older original of hers called ‘She’, a heartfelt and very moving song about the plight of homeless people, showed all that Codi Kaye was also a great songwriter with flawless musicianship. Oh, and as for that voice... That voice! Oh my god!

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The Karma Collective once again had good karma surrounding them, as the feel good five piece once again wowed the crowd with a set of very diverse originals. The soothing ‘Under The Sun’ slowly but surely reached a powerful crescendo, almost like late 90s Radiohead, and kept the momentum going with ‘Calling You’, which had the lead singer and guitarist adopt Nick Cave style vocals, while the whole band emulated The Bad Seeds somewhat. ‘Forty Pieces’ once again took the audience away on a musical journey, while ‘Before You Go’ was a beautiful Jeff Buckley-esque ballad with melodic keyboard that sounded so amazing it could’ve easily slotted in alongside any song on Buckley’s ‘Grace’ album. ‘Cold Escape’ displayed more sensational singing, as the guitarist, bass guitarist, keyboard player, and drummer all performed in a powerful Powderfinger style, but trumping anything by Powderfinger effortlessly. Just like Powderfinger too, The Karma Collective could definitely become a staple of FM radio, and perhaps more deservedly so than many other bands in the same genre.
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Rose & the Sea rode more waves of emotion, taking an extremely captive audience on a wonderful ride, opening with an original that was part Missy Higgins, part Mamas and the Papas, but with truly epic harmonies. This duo, made up of singer/songwriters Deanna Rose and Milli Casey, then treated the crowd to their hauntingly beautiful cover of The White Buffalo’s ‘Love Song Number One’. But it was with their next song, ‘Boy From The Sea’ (a touching ballad about the life and death of fellow musician and friend Thomas Byfield, aka Tommy 9 Fingers) that these amazing musicians really showcased their songwriting capabilities, and knack for stirring up deep feelings with even a minimal amount of words. The next mesmerising original not only showcased their ability for writing a great song, but their ability for pitch perfect performing too, with these vocalists harmonising brilliantly and making their voices become one. ‘Bottom Of The Bottle’, a song written by another muso friend of theirs, definitely became their own song in an instant, while the tender love song ‘That Will Be Us’ had both singers once again hitting notes akin to Kate Miller-Heidke. Rose & the Sea proved a perfect fit both musically and vocally, not just hitting the high notes, but obliterating them and leaving the shards deeply embedded into the hearts of all listening.
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Peace & Plenty gave all plenty more reasons to rock out in the Semi Final, as this time they were taking the stage as a three piece. Unlike Heat Three when they performed as a duo with lead vocals/guitar and drums/backing vocals, yesterday they were joined by their bass player/vocalist, which added a really different dynamic to the music. Opening with an original hailing back to the alternative rock sounds of many Australian bands in the 80s and early 90s, they followed this up with another original in the same style, only even more reminiscent of The Church, displaying some incredible guitar work along the way with a simple but incredibly effective hook. The bass player switched instruments with the lead singer and guitarist Craig Shoesmith, and also switched to lead vocal duties on ‘Holes’, another incredibly catchy original, showing the diversity and immense talent of the two leads, while AJ Shoesmith absolutely killed it on drums. 
More killer drums were to come, as AJ beat away at his kit like it owed him money, backing it all up with amazing backing vocals over trance inducing psychedelic rock. The father and son team of Craig and AJ, rounded out with their bass player/guitarist/vocalist, rounded out their set wonderfully with the with the weirdly wonderful ‘Weird’, and the closing number which had the feel of Pearl Jam’s ‘State Of Love And Trust’ with a touch of Neil Young. Peace & Plenty are a perfect band to listen to on a Sunday afternoon, and would also be great to listen to while having mates over for drinks on a Saturday night, or right before paddling out for your first waves of a Summer’s morning.

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In Motion kept things in motion with a rockin’ opening number with killer riffs, ‘My Kind Of Woman’, and did somebody say Wolfmother?.. The three piece kept giving with ‘Give’, another original with a funky bluesy groove that swung like Mike Tyson in his prime, while in contrast, a newer number of theirs, ‘Black and Gold’, was a much softer song (comparatively anyway). The band may’ve seemed to have rushed through Powderfinger’s ‘(Baby I’ve Got You) On My Mind’, but In Motion’s musicianship made me almost forget that I don’t really care for Powderfinger. Plus the boys got back on track with the infectious ‘Ride The Wave’, which also saw them well and truly win the crowd over.
In another stark contrast, the heavier, faster paced ‘Red Back’ was backed by ‘Change Of Scenery’, which was a change of sound, and once again saw this three piece combine soft melodic rock with heavy overtones, as well as some sensational lead guitar work throughout. Just like the set’s opener, the closing number ‘Mother’, also sounded like Wolfmother (but this time Wolfmother jamming on Led Zep), and made sure that not only their set, but the entire Semi Final, ended on a high note.

They say rules were meant to be broken, and yesterday, the judges did just that, as not one, but TWO acts went through to next week’s Grand Final! Each and every week, there is very little difference with the points awarded to each act, and the Semi Final was of course bound to be no exception. So much so this week though, that the decision was made to have The Karma Collective be dual winners with In Motion. So a big congrats to both bands for the win! Unfortunately, at the time of writing, The Karma Collective have just had to pull out of the comp due to unforeseen circumstances, and we at Muso’s Garage and Passport To Airlie are of course sad to learn of this, and wish you boys all the best. The lone winning band from the Semi Final is now In Motion, who go on to next week’s Grand Final to compete against Pap & That, Roy Rose, The Fossicks, and The Midnight Movers. So with such a high standard of stella entertainment and top talent on the bill, there’s no way you’ll wanna miss this Final! Taking place at the Stag on Sunday from 3pm to 7pm, entry is of course free, and as always, every drink and meal purchase could see you pick up a $50 bar voucher. Also up for grabs at the Grand Final is a brand new Gretsch guitar! So buy a drink or meal, and the new axe could be all yours. 
Either way, you’re in for one hell of an afternoon!

A BIG thanks to Craig Wilson at Swamphouse Photography for the pics!

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