The Iguana Bar, Kings Cross, Sydney
Friday, April 28 2006


Keen readers may recall that this writer was more than taken with the Presland/Newman rhythm section which stepped out for the first time with the Vindicators in late January. The news then that a stripped-down version of January's powerhouse was to play at The Iguana Bar with The Passengers on April 28 was therefore somewhat of a
double-edged sword: definite interest in the idea of Dave Alexander and the musical possibilities offered by more intimate surrounds but no Presland/Newman combo . . . . . . hmmm.


A hectic evening meant arriving in time for the last few songs of The Passengers' set. I heard enough to know that I will not miss a moment next time. Angie Pepper had the audience in the palm of her hand and no doubt others will report further on this front.

The other penalty for tardiness on the night was missing the Madeleine Chase set which I am reliably informed was a reward for the punctual and that the black leather, cigarette-hanging-off-her-lip edginess off-stage was in stark contrast to the warmth of the delivery of the set. Later in the evening Chase's voice and presence provided an interesting juxtaposition to Sisto's when she joined the Vindicators for three (Parsons/Byrds' "Hickory Wind", Manifestations song "Look and Turn" and an unknown and very San Franciscan number

But what of this "smooth" thing that Sisto determined should be brought to life by means of an almost entirely new song list (again as 28 January set was new too) and the introduction of Dave Alexander on drums?

Well, it was . . . . smooth; it was Newman looking straight out of a smoky Parisian bar with his stand up bass; it was a silky Dave Alexander sliding neatly into the team and Masuak commanding attention and a great deal more. In fact at times the world seems to disappear when Masuak plays; his ability to take this band across all terrain made the evening ˆ from Scott Walker to the Byrds and other '60s West Coast Items and places in betweeen
The Manifestations Sisto/Gilbert songs like "Eyes Freeze Time" with its sound that was not quite Spanish... but for
some reason that comes to mind being a stand out on the night. It was a journey that was a genuine trip
to an other era and place and for real.

Certainly a set of dynamics that streched far and wide as it entertained

And so to Mr Sisto, the maestro whose songlist made all this possible. Do the words "in his element" tell the story? No wonder The Vindicators have shifted to the West Coast; Sisto's voice is made for this music, and the increasingly regular performances (October, November, December (The Visitors); January and now April) have developed his depth and resonance. Sisto's range was perhaps best displayed on The Byrds' "Chestnut Mare" where his spoken voice was used to great effect (maybe he has a thing for horses?).

Boundaries fell as is his wont when performing; the edge of the stage once again just a point of departure as he took Scott Walker's "It's Raining Today" and the aforementioned "Eyes Freeze Time" into the arms of the audience . . . . . . an audience I might say in no hurry to let this band go.

It's clear that the Sisto/Masuak/Newman core of this band couldn't disappoint an audience if it tried and the Vindicators' burgeoning following now attests to this finding. The Iguana Bar was close to capacity throughout the night and while the talk afterwards was of the next Vindicators' next gig at The Empire (with Presland back behind
the drums) on SATURDAY THE 20TH OF MAY it was also abundantly clear that the smooth Mr Alexander and Sisto's most recent songlist better have another outing soon too