Gig review: Davina And The Vagabonds, Edinburgh

The American band Davina and the Vagabonds managed to draw a good crowd
The American band Davina and the Vagabonds managed to draw a good crowd
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THIS was supposed to be a write-up of first two gigs of the Edinburgh Jazz Festival, which kicked off yesterday lunchtime, but the wonderful, long-serving, local band the Diplomats of Jazz escaped review because a couple of numbers into their set, cornettist/vocalist and leader Jim Petrie took ill and the concert was, understandably, abandoned while an ambulance was called.

Davina And The Vagabonds - Tron Kirk, Edinburgh

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And so the gig which launched this reviewer’s festival turned out to be the first of this year’s quartet of performances by Davina and the Vagabonds, an American band which – judging by the impressive turn-out yesterday lunchtime – clearly made some friends during the 2014 event.

Davina, who sings and leads the quintet from the piano, is an ebullient, wisecracking and appealing personality with a striking 1940s look – she’s Julie Kavner crossed with Dita Von Teese.

She did her best to engage with the punters despite getting a crick in her neck trying to do said engaging over one shoulder, as her piano was facing into an audience-less corner.

Vocally, and in her choice of (mostly R&B) material, she recalled Amy Winehouse – at times the resemblance was quite uncanny.

Unfortunately, much of the original, repetitive and brass-heavy, material her band performed didn’t allow her to shine, and when they turned their hands to Fats Waller’s repertoire – in particular Louisiana Fairytale – it was almost like a pastiche.

Easily the stand-out was Etta James’s I Would Rather Go Blind which was a vocal tour-de-force; absolutely electrifying.

Seen on 17 .07.15