Stylus Reviews

STYLUS, Chapel Off Chapel, 25 July 2001

 Paul Burns
The Melbourne Times, Thursday 26 July 2001

Plenty of Australian bands from the 70’s or the 80’s have come together for re-unions in recent years, but the public had heard very little of Stylus soul/funk popsters from the 70’s who disbanded in 1979 other than news of their albums being re-mastered and released in Japan a couple of years back, and former members being spotted here and there.

Melbourne’s “Chapel Off Chapel”, a very up-market chapel converted to a theatre/performance space, with great acoustics and ‘ambience’, was the perfect setting for Stylus to fly like a bird, for the first time since 1992, and only really the second time the band has re-grouped since its demise.

Original members Peter Cupples (vocalist, chief song-writer), Ashley Henderson (bass, vocals and songs), Sam McNally (keyboards) and guitarist Ronnie Peers were enhanced by the brilliant jazz-and-anything-else drummer David Jones in this new line-up. And did this “bird” fly!

The group played its most known songs including “World of Make Believe” and the signature tune “Summer Breeze” of course, but the 2 sets were fleshed out by interesting and well-arranged pieces from their 4 albums, which gave lots of space for powerful and often flashy solos
from Ronnie Peers and Sam McNally. Not surprisingly, the extra-ordinary voice of Peter Cupples soared and seemed to sound better than ever, off-set by the unique falsetto-ish tone of Ash Henderson at regular intervals. A couple of well-known covers were included, although the audience, comprising a solid mix of baby-boomers and (a little surprisingly) early 20’s groovers, responded to almost every song with such genuine warmth and enthusiasm that Stylus could have played anything and gotten away with it! A mint, virgin condition Stylus first LP (vinyl) fetched $580 when auctioned with “proceeds to a children’s charity”. Additional vocalist from the 4th album Part Of It All, Peter Roberts, was welcomed onto the stage for “Brave New World” and the remaining few titles towards the end of set two.

Stylus proved that some things improve with age, not the opposite. There was an ease, a certain dignity, and definitely more ‘fire in the belly’, than 20-plus years ago; the material more than ‘held up’, in fact the songs were and are strong, melodic, well-crafted and interesting. Random comments from the full-house audience included “… it’s great to hear a band actually play together”. Play together they certainly did. Stylus have in 2001 the same “chemistry”, or actually, “harmony” as before, except that harmony between the 4 very different people that comprise the original members is more powerfully expressed than when they were younger men. And David Jones’s wonderful input exacerbates that already strong dynamic. More please!

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