Published in The Music (WA) | 06.08.14 | Issue # 50
Lush vocals and a humble, friendly aesthetic saw an acoustic folk explosion in UK’s Ryan Keen. Bass triggered by foot pedals and beats created by frantic hand movements carefully striking the body of his guitar made for a fine appetiser. If his next Australian single and set closer Focus incites the nation to do exact that, Keen will return to headline venues of the same size in no time.
In typical Kate Miller-Heidke fashion, the stage design resembled a scene from a warped children’s fairytale; pale, large hands stood in the background, jutting out from the group, with pieces of jigsaw puzzles falling from the ceiling and intertwining around them. Having played a secret show the night previous, the first official show of the tour kicked off with Bliss, a song placed as the final track of her most recent record, O Vertigo!, to summarise its predecessors. As an opener it did so much more. The spotlight was shattered and bellowing drums lit the stage to reveal her backing band for Sing To Me. It was the debut of a new band, and outfit – the latter of which made her look like an “18th century clown mixed with a shuttlecock” – and by the time Mama rolled around, with its disjointed structure and tight execution, the band had proved their worth.
Things went from old to older with 2004’s Monster, a track of her debut EP, as requested by fans leading up to the tour. An interesting a cappella verse replaced the typical Caught In The Crowd intro, but received a warm reception. Back-up vocalist and violinist Emma Dean – who played in a band with Miller-Heidke ten years ago – received an “intimate” introduction for a vocal-heavy and captivating duet of Rock This Baby To Sleep. Solo, Miller-Heidke rattled off comic number Are You Fucking Kidding Me? and kept the funnies flowing with an anecdote about googling herself while on the toilet.
The kinks of a new band on the first show of the tour surfaced with Jimmy kicking off in the wrong key and forcing a restart mid-verse, Sarah beginning with the wrong key tone and a faulty microphone hindering the start of an otherwise captivating rendition of Share Your Air, with Keen singing Passenger’s lines. Guitarist Keir Nuttall busted out a loop pedal, and with Dean by Miller-Heidke’s side on keys, Humiliation was transformed into a set highlight, erasing all recent discrepancies
The set’s most intimate and defining moment was a duo performance of In The Darkness with Nuttall, stripped back to its barebones with fragile vocals placed on top. Nuttall was given his time to shine with tongue-in-cheek hip hop parodyCompromise as his alter-ego Franky Walnut, who had appeared in Perth a month earlier in support of The Beards. Fittingly, Nuttall, keeping his hip hop vibe alive, then took on the role of WA rapper Drapht in Drama.
It wouldn’t be a Miller-Heidke gig if she didn’t bring up chronic flatulence at least once, and another anecdote about her own bad experiences was delivered as a segue into Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball featuring a verse of Everything Is Awesome from The Lego Movie. By the time closers The Last Day On Earth, Little Adam and Space They Cannot Touchrolled around, everything was indeed awesome.