The Ukulele Death Squad - Daddy’s Got a New Body

Ukulele Death Squad Daddys Got a New Body Adelaide Fringe 20231/2

Adelaide Fringe. Grace Emily Hotel. 9 Mar 2023


The Ukulele Death Squad is a moving feast; you can never be sure who will turn up on the night and what you’re going to get. On this night, first up were apologies for a missing player from stalwart and anchor Ben Roberts. The crowd, who mostly seemed familiar with the group, shrugged it off and got into it regardless.


UDS are a bit of a supergroup in the uke world; a few of their members now live interstate, so the gigs for the full band are few and far between, mostly at festivals such as this. Last time they played the Fringe it was at the sold out Regal Theatre in 2020, so watching them at the extremely intimate Grace Emily was quite the contrast. At that gig, the nucleus of the band was joined by ‘the gingerbread man aka Matthew Barker, and he’s now become their permanent ‘token ginger’. The new vocal lineup is completed with Alice Barker and Ash Randell, while Roberts, Julian Ferguson and Reuben Ferguson also contribute while maintaining the musical backline on tenor and baritone uke, with Ferguson blowing a very cool sax.


Straight into it with Paris on a Train and the tempo did not let up for the rest of the night. A delightful addition was Barker and Randell picking up the trumpet and trombone respectively, filling out a pretty cool brass section with Ferguson. Not the most proficient at this stage, but this will flesh out beautifully.


For the most part the UDS are on the aural attack, assaulting the senses with a fairly unrelenting barrage of up tempo songs. The slower Let’s Go to the Movies and Wayfaring allow for a catch of breath and a real exhibition of the stunning vocal lineup and we’re back into the musical melee again, with an energy reminiscent of the days of Roaring Jack.


Special mention of the song that lends itself to the title of the show. This R&B infused song is filled with addictive hooks, and had the audience grooving along (had to use that word). While the line “Daddy’s got a new body” forms part of the refrain – its title is Baby Don’t (F*** With Me) and it’s an absolute ripper. Listen to it on YouTube, recorded live at Penny’s Lane Winery.


UDS ended as they began, fast, high energy and above all, entertaining, leaving the audience almost as exhausted as the band.


This is skilled, inventive, creative and entertaining playing, and there are guitarists who would crawl over broken glass to play like this. One tires of saying that the uke is not what you think it is, but here it is again. It can be (thanks Scott) but actually, it doesn’t need to be, and in the hands of these guys, it just isn’t. Got it?


Arna Eyers-White


When: Closed

Where: Grace Emily Hotel

Bookings: Closed