McAlister Kemp are a talented duo who have been creating quite a buzz in country music circles. With 3 albums to their name, a Golden Guitar award and over 18,000 likes on facebook, these guys are on the cusp of international stardom and we here at Rock Club 40 were curious to see what the fuss was about.
Their latest album "Harder to Tame" includes a live DVD which gives the viewer some idea of what they can expect and we knew we wanted to get out there and see for ourselves. We were so impressed by the album that we also purchased the previous two, which are equally as good with many songs on high rotation on the music player.
The all-ages crowd appeared to be an equal mix of young and old, with some as young as only a few months and others, well, quite a bit older! With a demographic that wide, they must be doing something right.
Ben Ransom was the support act and he did a great job warming up the crowd. Playing tracks from his album "Slow Burn", songs like "Big Country Sky" and "You're on the Top of My 'To-Do' List" were received well by the crowd. He even had us singing along with his latest single, a cover of Jackson Browne's "Somebody's Baby" which is the result of a collaboration with top producer Rob E. Porter. If the opportunity arose, we would definitely see Ben again.
When the headline act made their way onto the stage, via the steps on the dance floor, the crowd cheered and many rose to their feet, racing to the front to be up close to their idols. From the moment Drew McAlister and Troy Kemp launched into their new album's title song "Harder to Tame", we knew this was going to be one wild and crazy journey. We don't know who was harder to tame, the crowd who got straight into it or McAlister Kemp with their energy and enthusiasm.
This duo know how to engage and entertain a crowd. Each song is delivered with grit and drive and harmonies that are a treat for the ears, as your feet automatically start tapping in time to the beat. Their music is quite a mixed bag and can easily cross over into mainstream as they played many songs that wouldn't be out of place on the pop/rock charts charts, songs like "Night on Fire", "A Good Idea" and "Always a Girl". Then there's the very catchy "Cold Beer, Hot Women", "Harder to Tame", "Hard work" and "Tats", I guess you could describe them as blokey pub or drinking songs, with a great beat and good singalong lyrics, especially after a few beers with your mates. The popularity of the songs evident on the happy, smiling faces of the crowd. Throw in some slow love songs like "What a Woman Can Do" and "It Don't Buy You Love", as well as some country favourites like "Songs that make us Country" and "Country Proud" and you're in for a great night of music with a party atmosphere.
During "Tats", we're all encouraged to reveal our tattoos and many people happily oblige. Microphones are then handed over to the crowd who join in at certain times. Their youngest fan, who appeared to be not more than 12 months old, was often raised above the crowd as her mother bopped along to the music, another young child was brought up on stage to sing a few words. What a great introduction to the world of music and it was good to see both young and old enjoying the show.
The duo themselves took mobile phone pictures of the crowd to include in a website slideshow. This was definitely an interactive experience by a band who values its fans. It is obvious by the laughter and camaraderie on stage that these guys are good mates who enjoy what they do and in the process they take their fans on a musical journey with songs that touch on life, love, hardship and good times.
With the first set drawing to its inevitable close, the band leave the stage but promptly return for an encore with the upbeat "Hell Yeah" and finishing with their huge singalong hit, the anthemic "Country Proud" (for which they received an ARIA nomination).
With songs that leave you humming their tune for days, lively performances and a great attitude towards their fans, it's easy to see why their star is rising and we were lucky to catch them up close before international success takes them away to larger venues and stadiums. The formula for stardom is there and we look forward to seeing what trajectory is takes. Check them out for yourself, you'll be pleasantly surprised!
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by Paul and Anna Bartle