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Ben Evolent Launches ‘Wanderous’ At The Happy Yess

Words & Pics by Steve Kelk

Happy Yess Sold Out | Support from Lilly Sideris & Emma Rowe

Ben Evolent centre stage at the Happy Yess

It was touching to see Darwin’s Happy Yess back up and on its feet again after months of COVID-19 lockdown, with the courtyard (appropriately) full with fans of Ben Evolent for the sold-out launch of his excellent debut album ‘Wanderous‘ last Friday night.

With an approved social distancing regime in place, complete with contact tracing details being taken via the online ticketing system or manually at the door for crew and media, the Yess was gifted with superb weather for this special outdoor event. Mild temperatures and a cool breeze was just what the evening called for as Darwin opens back up to live music, and the Happy Yess is perfectly placed for intimate outdoor gigs under the new normal. While the number might have been limited, the fun and the vibe certainly wasn’t.

Lilly Sideris

Opening the night was a sublime solo performance by Lilly Sideris, her angelic voice floating in the air above the courtyard and grounding the building crowd with a calm energy – a perfect mood-setter for things to come.

Emma Rowe

Emma Rowe then ramped things up a notch in typical fashion. The ‘Lioness‘ creator filled her set with her energetic originals, and several instrument changes and styles (including a rap piece) made for a multi-layered performance that gave the feeling that there was more than one person on the stage. Emma’s powerful voice was in full swing, although she told us after her set that she was still getting used to singing at full tilt again after so many months of not being able to perform (could have fooled us).

Ben Evolent & Band

Ben Evolent (aka Joshua Tarka) spent time prior to his set socialising with his fans, plugging merch (as you do) and drinking in the atmosphere – such is the beauty of the Darwin music scene in general and the Happy Yess in particular that headline artists are so comfortable mingling pre and post performance. He was of course amongst friends and admirers, with many sporting Ben’s iconic merch line of ‘Ben Evolent shirts’ – pastel-and-patterned loose-fitting beachwear open to the chest, a stamp of wanderlust that underscores Ben’s life philosophy. Imitation, as the saying goes, is the sincerest form of flattery.

Ben’s performance was on point and on vibe. His band was cooking and all was right with the world for the duration. Metronomic beats from Damien Whitney on the kit underscored the on-fire Tom Anderson bass grooves (Tom really let fly on the reggae numbers, as is his schtick), while the rock-solid guitar of Stuart Higlett was delivered with typical pin-point accuracy. This ensemble raise the bar of professionalism of live music performances indeed. Dancing ensued.

Lilly Sideris joined Ben on stage to play some sweet violin and help with vocals towards the end of the set, and ‘Wanderous‘ producer Ben Allen (aka Broadwing) jumped up for some harmonies. Ben’s signature show-ender version of ‘Dreadlock Holiday’ had Tommy Anderson in rapture with several 16th note sections that brought the reggae standard to a whole new level.

*The only thing missing from this very successful launch was more punters, and that’s no-one’s fault. We have no doubt that if we were in normal times and a full house could be had, this launch would have still sold out. The NT music scene is perfectly placed to be a new standard bearer in live music performance in this country and we encourage all artists to use the time wisely and get busy – we will be way ahead of the curve while the rest of Australia is still knocking the rust off.

Congratulations to Ben Evolent and band for putting on a marvellous show for the live music-starved punters in town, and big ups to the quality supports for setting the temperature. Big thanks to the Happy Yess for still being there for live music, and special mention for Teghan Hughes for getting the sound just right in the outdoor setting, where it was just as good up the back as it was down the front.

Check out our gallery of images for the night here:

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