Built in 1934 and designed by the Architecture firm then known as Woods, Bagot, Laybourne Smith & Irwin in the Classical Revival and Beaux Arts style, the former AMP building at 21 King William St. City is now the home of the Saldechin Tearoom, Restaurant and Martini bar.
It’s also the home of the Blues Brothers Rhythm and Blues Revue tribute band during the 2013 Adelaide Fringe. The venue is stunning – the ceiling is at least 30 feet high and its marble columns complete the beautiful surrounds.
An interesting feature of the venue is, of all things, the toilets. Placed at the end of a catacomb of corridors, stairs and closed doors an ante-room which sports old style prison bars at one end, and a massive Fort Knox style bank vault and it’s open door.
Danny Gillard and James Meegan play Jake and Elwood Blues respectively in the standard Blues Brothers outfits. Physically they match the dichotomy of the original Blues Brothers and they actually have better singing voices than John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd with Meegan shining on ‘Rawhide’ and ‘Minnie the Moocher’ while Gillard rendered ‘6345789’ with blue-eyed soul perfection. The only let-down was they didn’t do the Blues Brothers dance routines and that really did take a chunk out of their performance – everyone knows and loves Carlton Johnson’s flamboyant choreography as it’s as much a part of the Blues Brothers repertoire as their outfits or songs. The guys were augmented on vocals by Sarah Jane Whitely; dressed in Aretha Franklin’s Soul Food Café costume. Whitely gave a powerful interpretation of ‘Chain of Fools’.
The Blues Brothers Band was fantastic. Members Greg Tenikoff on Keys, Barry Burgan on Bass, Jacek Waskowski on Guitar, Andrew Partington on Drums, James Capatch on Alto Sax, Stephen McEntee on Trombone, Edwin Davis on Trumpet and Ronnie Kriekenbeek on Harmonica played tight and sassy all night but the standouts were definitely Kriekenbeek and Capatch.
All the best known and most loved Blues Brothers songs were played and by the beginning of the 2nd set even the Saldechin staff were wiggling their arses.
Chefs Matthew Johnson and Jacomo Lovat provided a menu worthy of the Chez Paul (the up-market restaurant Jake and Elwood attend to recruit maître d’/horn player Mr Fabulous). The Entrée of Tempura King Prawn, seared scallops, avocado and wasabi mayonnaise coleslaw with bisque crème and a Main of macadamia, kaffir lime and citrus-crusted Barramundi, shrimp gow, chilli coriander tomato salsa and fried shallots with Dessert of Crushed Pavlova, tropical fruits and passion fruit coulis each had that magical bliss factor top quality cooking and produce provides.
By the end of the night most of the audience were on their feet and even owner Raul Barretto and his staff were shaking their tail feather in the traditional Blues Brothers shtick – and why not? The food was great, the venue is fantastic and the band was on song.