Sunday, November 30, 2008

Emiliana Torrini @ The Powerhouse November 16th

We went down to the Powerhouse right after the first of the heavy storms to hit the South East Queensland area that night. We arrived with enough time to get a great carpark and enjoy some more of the rain on the back deck with a couple of drinks. Inside the main Powerhouse Theatre, you wouldn't have had any clue about what was happening outside, owing to the great acoustics of the place. It was nice to go to a sit-down event for a change, especially given that we were on the tail end of a pretty big weekend.

Supporting the night was Sydney quartet, Charge Group. I couldn't help thinking of The Dirty Three when I was listening to them, most probably because of how the violin influenced the sound. Whilst I didn't feel that the vocals really fit in with the music, and I thought the stage presence was lacking a bit between songs, it didn't stop me from taking a liking to the music.

After intermission and a slightly extended period of waiting, Emiliana Torrini made her way to the stage with her "Mötley Crüe" of a backing band. The delay was explained by the fact that she was pre-empting a possible wardrobe malfunction and needed to find another dress to replace the one that turned out to be partially transparent under the stage lights!

The set was mainly drawn from her most recent two albums and she sounded genuinely surprised to hear requests from the first album. The exaggerated dynamic tempo of Heartstopper was executed very well, and it was great to hear a live version of Sunny Road - the song that drew me to her music to begin with. I had only gotten around to buying her latest album on the night, but I loved what I heard from it, especially Gun, Ha-Ha and Fireheads. The rest of the songs, including Lifesaver, Fisherman's Woman, Big Jumps, Me And Armini, Heard It All Before, Jungle Drum, and many more that I've since forgotten, were just as enjoyable.

In contrast to Charge Group, Torrini was very chatty between songs, often regaling the audience with personal and humourous stories about her life, her music writing, the band and whatever happened to find its way into her head at the time.

The earlier reference to the band was made literally by her when commenting about the guitar swapping that was going on between some of the songs, but the band really were the most unlikely looking group I have seen in a while. They certainly proved that looks can be deceiving though by providing a great musical platform of electric/acoustic/slide guitars, electric piano, keyboards, melodica, glockenspiel, drums and other percussion, upon which Torrini delivered her vocals. Bass guitar was absent from most songs, but it didn't feel like it wasn't missed.

I think the exhaustion from the flight on the way over to Australia really caught up with Torrini by the end of the night, as she struggled to recall lyrics and keep a straight face through the encore, but it wasn't to the detriment of the entertainment value of the performance. In all, another wonderful night of music!

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