If you visit Smooth Ops Facebook page you’ll see in their story an invitation that goes like this :-
Ready to party? We’ll bring the GROOVE. Hire Smooth Ops for your event, and we’ll make sure your dance floor is packed from start to finish. From The Beatles and Bon Jovi to Bruno and Beyonce, we’ve got every decade covered. (https://www.facebook.com/pg/smoothopscanberra/about/?ref=page_internal)
So, here I am, back at the Hellenic Club in Canberra to see what Smooth Ops brings to the tables in terms of covers and how well they really do cover the decades with their covers.
It’s a late start as is often the way in Canberra, 9.30pm and one would think punters would just go home but not tonight – we have a full house and I even recognise some faces of those who I know appreciate a twirl on the dance floor to their favourite tunes. Smooth OPs have a standing gig with the Hellenic Club and play there once a month roughly so there’s bound to be some return fans amongst the crowd too.
The night begins and within seconds the dancefloor is full and from my seated position I realise I will have to get up close and personal to the stage area for pictures tonight. Ages of punters are mixed and everyone is in the party zone.
Three lead vocals, Tara Nichols, Nicole Taylor and Justin Hoffman take charge of the set progression utilising each other’s strengths in both Solo and Trio formats. The girls have huge ranges in their voices and Hoffman can stand alone beside them with his own renditions with a smaller range of vocal prowess.
What interests me most at this point about Hoffman is that he can carry a tune and manipulate an egg shaker in time in unison…I suspect that’s a hard thing to master when your mind and your body need to be in two different places…He’s obviously accomplished in these matters.
In the background I notice a diminutive figure, the keyboardist, Julia Mayne. She’s adding to the performance with backing vocals but it appears the strengths of the leads overshadow her a bit…not so with the keys though. I snuck up behind her and watched her fingers skillfully caress the keys or accentuate them dependent on the song.
As I move into a position where I can try to get some good shots I’m of course nudged by the punters gleefully dancing and singing away with the lyrics…they are mindful of me but there’s just not enough room for the legions of fans at this point.
The backline boys – Anthony Firth (Guitar), Phil Measham (Drums) and Ken McNally (Bass) are all within their supportive zones keeping the tempo and delivering the beats. Occasionally we see Firth break free for some great shredding highlights before going back to the comfort zone and these moments are well timed and well received.
I couldn’t list the whole range of songs Smooth Ops sang tonight there were so many but it did include these hits:- All About The Bass (Meghan Trainor 2014), Uptown Funk (Bruno Mars 2014), Shut Up And Dance (Walk The Moon 2014), Can’t Stop The Feeling (Justin Timberlake 2016), The Edge Of Glory (Lady Gaga 2011), Signed Sealed Delivered (Stevie Wonder 1970), Like A Prayer (Madonna 1989) and even tackled Sweet Child Of Mine (Guns N’ Roses 1989).
Vocally there was nothing to not like about tonight’s performance from Smooth Ops. Both girls are power houses in their own right with Taylor having the more mature tone and smoothness and Nichols being able to carry notes to heights that might just crack a champagne glass and that sharp edge needed for some of the more raucous songs. That’s not to take anything away from Hoffman who whilst not taking us to the depths or heights the girls did provided great tone and textural blends into the mix.
Instrumentally, good strong cohesive musicians in the right place at the right time and then some. Mayne, Firth, Measham and McNally make up the kind of support that all bands wish they had..fluent in their craft and engaging in their delivery.
So did Smooth Ops live up to the invitation on Facebook?? I would have to say it was a big resounding “YES”. This is a quality act and very suited for those corporate parties and fine weddings as opposed to the ‘pub’ culture and festival scenes of the music industry.
I had a great night, sang a few old favourites, got some pics and left feeling satisfied with what I had received in entertainment value..no, I didn’t dance but that’s because I have too left feet!
Thank you Smooth Ops for being who you claim to be!