Review: Georgia Fair, The Standard, Sydney

Georgia Fair
Image Courtesy of Catherine May

Georgia Fair with Dirt Farmer and Jack Carty
6 July 2012, The Standard
Sydney 

Georgia Fair have been working hard the past few years, building their reputation and releasing new music to a growing fan base. The duo’s current string of single launch parties are supposedly some of their last live shows for a while with the promise of a new album requiring some time away from the touring circuit.

Tonight’s show at The Standard saw the boys with two support acts. Whilst second act (and clearly friends of Georgia Fair) Dirt Farmer kept the energy levels up, it was opener Jack Carty who left the biggest impression. Soft acoustic guitar and simple lyrics about simple things – the reference to the Melbourne Indie Hipster scene in “Everything, Unhappily” quickly won my heart – had the crowd quietly listening along.

When Jordan and Ben took to the stage around 10:30pm, they were joined by Sophia on drums and Monty on bass. The band came and went throughout the hour long set but it was when the duo performed alone that the magic really happened.

Stemming from a one time bet, Ben began to play his clarinet whilst Jordan sang producing a surreal moment of clarinet folk brilliance. Each of the guys had their own stage presence that doesn’t always need a band behind it; Jordan emotes every lyric through his face whilst Ben performs with an almost dead-pan look, focusing on the sound he’s creating.

With the band back on stage there was a lovely instrumental into “Float Away”, before the audience got a bit chatty when Jordan had trouble fixing his guitar. To finish the set, Dirt Farmer returned to the stage for a “jam” – Jordan’s words – with a busy, energetic rendition of Queens of the Stone Age’s “Make It Wit’ ‘Chu” getting the packed room singing along.

Having only previously seen the boys as an unaccompanied duo, I have to say I still prefer them without a band. With or without them, it was a great hour-long set combining a range of new songs and old favourites and a show that should keep fans happy if there is to be a bit of a hiatus before their next tour.

Review: Missy Higgins, York Theatre, Sydney

Missy Higgins
Image Courtesy of Missy Higgins

Missy Higgins
8 June 2012, York Theatre, The Seymour Centre
Sydney

It’d be an understatement to say I’d been waiting a while for this gig. In fact, it was almost seven years since I’d first heard The Sound of White and set myself the dream of seeing Missy Higgins play live. Friday night at The York Theatre was to be the night I first saw her perform, but would it live up to my high hopes.

Unlike many artists who won’t step foot on stage until the crowd are practically begging for them, Missy’s first appearance of the night was when she casually strolled on as a guest keyboardist in Butterfly Boucher’s support slot. The friends’ rapport shone through on the show (Butterfly then switched to be the bass player in the main set) and at many points it seemed the two could be mistaken for simply enjoying a great night out.

After Butterfly’s set culminated in the dancey “5,6,7,8”, there was a brief break for her to run and sign some CDs before she returned with Missy and the rest of the band. An outfit change had seen Missy change from a simple green blouse and tailored trousers to a shimmering green dress that one audience member noted was particularly “Christmassy”. Missy said she preferred to think of the look as more of a “bedazzled reptile” and quickly burst into “Secret” to begin her twenty-song set.

The venue itself was big enough to fit the 700-odd fans in, but the semi circle of seating meant that everyone felt close to the music. With hand-painted stage banners draped behind the band to match Kate Tucker’s album artwork, the combination of staging and venue was perfect to match the simple beauty of Missy’s voice.

Combining a good mix of tracks from her first two albums with a selection from her latest release The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle, Missy kept everyone happy. Whilst the media have been having a field day reporting Missy’s decision to quit music and change her sound, when she played the likes of “The Special Two” and “The River” from her debut, she still seemed to be very much the same incredibly raw musician whose music I fell in love with all those years ago. Other highlights of the set included the poignant “Cooling of the Embers” telling the tale of Missy’s late grandmother, a solo guitar rendition of the heartbreaking “Forgive Me” and the addition of an eighties style keytar on “Unashamed Desire”.

With her five-piece band composed of musicians from Melbourne and the States, Missy and her band worked well together to add something different to every track. Guest vocalist Jane Tyrrell from The Herd joined the band twice throughout the evening and was particularly of note providing atmospheric animal noises in the soulful “Watering Hole”.

So was it worth the long wait? Most definitely.

I’m just glad I’m seeing her again next Saturday in Melbourne – no more waiting around for me.

Review: Matt Corby, The Corner Hotel, Melbourne

Matt Corby
Image Courtesy of Matt Corby

Matt Corby
19th February 2012, The Corner Hotel
Melbourne

This was Matt Corby‘s second chance to impress me.

A year and a half ago, in the upstairs of a pub in Islington, North London, I went along to watch Matt Corby perform a free gig. There were, at most, twenty people in the room (including Corby and a bartender) and I left in awe of Corby‘s vocals but feeling underwhelmed at his songs and lacklustre stage presence.

Fast forward to February 2012 and I’m on the other side of the world at the first of five sold out shows at a venue with a capacity of around 850.

It’d be fair to say 2011 was Corby‘s year. “Brother” was the song that was to be his big break and ultimately earn him the bronze medal equivalent in Triple J’s Hottest 100.

Tonight he casually strolls onto the stage; The theatrical red curtains open with smoke machines and lighting creating the kind of atmosphere one wouldn’t normally associate with an acoustic guitarist. As he begins with “Made of Stone”, I immediately fear this second chance was undeserved. Yet again, his vocals are faultless but there’s something missing.

It’s only when he bursts into his second song with the backing of the whole band that I realise how wrong I was.

By the time he plays his third song – a track he introduces as “a song that you might recognise” – I’m completely charmed. As he ramps up the tempo and the volume for the bridge of “Brother” it becomes clear that the more attitude Corby displays, the more enjoyable his performance is.

The set continues with a few solo performances and Corby‘s clever rendition of The Black Keys‘ “Lonely Boy” which the crowd reacts well to.

Alone with his loop pedal, Corby records his softer notes before layering on harsher vocals to create something pretty special. But I still think I prefer his performance when accompanied by his band – the addition of a drummer particularly enhanced the songs.

Finishing with an encore of “Kings, Queens, Beggars and Thieves” – a song I vaguely remember from my first encounter with Corby – the improvement is immeasurable.

The boy I saw back then appeared awkward, uncertain and lacking. Tonight I saw a confident man, oozing stage presence and clearly adored by the packed out crowd.

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