Review: Missy Higgins, York Theatre, Sydney

Missy Higgins
Image Courtesy of Missy Higgins

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

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.

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