The band, looking sharp in their co-ordinated outfits, began their set with the lively opener “Eating Jelly with Your Fingers". Food, as you can imagine, is a key component of the lyrics, with many references to food throughout the set. Here a number of different approaches to eating are described, accompanied by some melodic keyboards and a clever reciprocal vocal technique. The song has a noticeable jazz influence, further cemented by an electrifying guitar that moved up and down the fretboard like snakes on a hot tin ladder!
“Funky Red” reminded me a little of The Jackson 5, with its seventies vibe and uplifting rhythm which really got the crowd going. Prizes were handed out to the most deserving dancers as the crowd began to increase in number. Children generally love to play musical statues, so the introduction of a freeze dance was another welcome addition to the performance. This set the show up nicely for “Dance Like an Emu”, another action song, where the children were encouraged to impersonate a variety of different animals. Incidentally the lead vocal on this song was performed by the keyboard player, revealing a further depth of vocal talent.
The kids were all now on their feet, as the band raised the tempo with the slightly country influenced “Fruit Salad”, as the delights of eating fruit were described to emphasise the importance of healthy eating. The audience were then encouraged to do an impromptu Mexican wave, as the sounds of the ocean introduced the next song “Beach Reggae” an appropriate song in the heat, with lyrics including sun safety advice for the kids. As education was now on the menu, “Alphabet Groove” was a well timed addition to the set from this jazz inspired eight legged groove machine. Next up the audience were treated to a game of Name That Tune, with familiar songs such as “Waltzing Matilda” tossed into the air, in an attempt to test the musical memory of the audience.
Despite a hefty half hour of performing in soaring temperatures, there was still plenty of bounce left in the set, as the band crashed through the remaining songs at a hectic pace. “Chocolate Now’”, a song apparently about a child’s request for chocolate at the dinner table was well received. Here bananas, spaghetti and pizza are all rejected in favour of chocolate, which left me wondering if it was sung from personal experience. We were then treated to a jazz influenced version of “The Hokey Pokey” which had everyone up and moving. The set finished as it began with another rendition of “Eating Jelly With Your Fingers” with the audience invited down the front for one last dance.
Jelly Kids really know how to work an audience, their set is varied in pace, and is highly interactive incorporating fun games and activities throughout. A major strength of this band is they recognise, when you perform for families, it is not enough to just stand there and play your instruments. The audience needs to feel involved and there needs to be diversity and activities that engage the kids, which is exactly what Jelly Kids do.
I am guessing that there must be at least one teacher in this band, as at times the show panned out like a fun music lesson. Another plus, is the majority of the set is made up of original songs, which is a refreshing change from the usual array of covers on offer. In short they are a highly entertaining outfit and a delight to watch. Having being suitably inspired, I left the concert with some of their songs still playing in my head, and a renewed interest in sampling some of the culinary delights that were on offer all around me. I couldn’t find any jelly and ice cream, so the veggie burger just had to do.
Look out for Jelly Kids coming your way.