REVIEW: Joe Camilleri 

IT'S hard to picture Joe Camilleri ever having an off night.

For more than 40 years, the Malta-born musician has been a staple of Australia's live music scene, fronting an assortment of acts, most famously The Black Sorrows and Jo Jo Zep & the Falcons.

Even when things do go wrong (he has to change the mouthpiece on his saxophone mid-song during this show), Camilleri doesn't skip a beat.

He is a born showman who genuinely loves making music, and the buzz he gets from being on stage is infectious.

At 65, Camilleri shows no sign of slowing down.

He has back-to-back gigs booked through until the end of the year and, before a full house at this show, he plugs the band's latest album (the triple-disc Crooked Little Thoughts) and talks about another album that is in the works.

You get the impression Camilleri cannot stop - he lives and breathes music.

At this show, he's performing as The Black Sorrows with Mark Gray on bass, Claude Carranza on guitar and Angus Burchall on drums, but the set list is not strictly confined to the band's back catalogue.

Opening with Hold On To Me from 1988, Camilleri and the band switch between soul, '50s rock and blues, mixing new songs with covers (including Willy Deville's No Such Pain As Love) and his evergreen back catalogue (Harley and Rose, Chained To the Wheel, and Shape I'm In).

The 1979 hit Hit and Run is a crowd favourite and gives Camilleri a chance to show off his chops on the saxophone and his versatile voice.

He does a brilliant job covering one of his biggest influences on a version of Van Morrison's Bright Side of the Road (Camilleri will perform in a tribute to Morrison at Sydney's State Theatre in November).

A tribute to recently departed musician Bill Putt in the form of his band Spectrum's biggest hit I'll Be Gone was a highlight of the show, as Camilleri and the band led the audience in a sing-along to the classic song, the lyrics "I'll sing my song and I'll be gone" seeming particularly poignant.

"I do love my job", Camilleri tells the crowd.

No one could argue with that.

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