[Live Review] MISSY HIGGINS (Brisbane)

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Brisbane Convention Centre
Saturday September 27, 2014

‏Walking on stage, a heavily pregnant Missy Higgins opens her Brisbane show with Slim Dusty’s ‘The Biggest Disappointment’, a song penned by Dusty’s wife she informs us. She is radiant in a dress of silver and black jacket, her guitar resting comfortably on her protruding belly.

‏On tour to promote her latest album, OZ, a collection of hand-selected covers that shaped the singers’ musical education. Tonight she will educate her audience on why she loves these songs so much and take us on a journey through her playbook of Australian classics.

‏First though, she plays a few classic songs from her back catalogue, switching from elegant piano playing to guitar. ‘They Weren’t There’ setting a reflective mood, ‘Special Two’ takes flight as one of Missy’s most beautifully poignant pieces. ‘Going North’ brings it back to a playful time of travel and adventure on the road as images of a road trip are projected onto the screen.

‏Her banter with the crowd is very witty and she makes jokes with the crowd, at times is self-depreciating, humble and just a little apologetic. It’s a quality that is endearing very down-to-earth and very sweet. She muses on the concept of the Brisbane festival, River Fire, as having a party for the sake of a party, and gets a few laughs from the crowd before launching into ‘This Is How It Goes’, a gritty song about leaving it all behind.

‏The second half of the show she introduces The Mt Cooth, a string quartet to assist her re-invent her playbook of covers of great Australian songs, each song accompanied by her explanation of the song and how she connects with it. She endearingly tells a slightly embarrassing story of writing a “rather embarrassing fan letter” to Paul Dempsey only months before meeting him on tour in East Timor, much to her chagrin. It is a funny sweet story leading into her rendition of ‘You Only Hide’, a dramatic, soulful piece. Each song that follows has been lovingly reconstructed with a stings section breathing new life into it. Paul Kelly’s ‘Before Too Long’, The Angels’ ‘No Secrets’, The Drones’ ‘Shark Fin Blues’ are renditions that Missy has the voice to do justice to. She connects with each song and makes it believable; a rare talent. Behind her images are projected onto a screen each one tying into the song theme flawlessly.

‏She winds off the show with her break out hit ‘Scar’ requesting that “This next song requires a little bit of sing a-long in the middle are you guys up for that.. I’ll queue you into the song and go TAKE IT AWAY” and the whole crowd is singing along whole heartedly.

‏It comes to the point in the night where it is due to wind up and play the encore, Missy informs the crowd that she is “too lazy” to head back stage and wait in the wings and she may just “sit on the stage for five minutes” instead. It is a fun, unconventional way to end the show and has the audience laughing. She thanks the audience “for clapping us back on stage” and introduces another song from the new album with a funny story about a her year 2000 New Year’s experience before launching into Perry Keys’ ‘NYE’.

‏Finishing up with a film clip of footage shot years ago in her back yard, a teenage Missy projected on the screen tells us that “I’m gonna be a Rock Star and this is gonna be played at my concerts“, dedicating her final song to younger self; “So this one’s for you, you puffy little teenager, you” and launches into her final song for the evening ‘Warm Whispers’. She has been funny, entertaining, poignant and charismatic. She has comfortably educated the crowd on some of Australia’s best songs and made us remember what a fine talent she really is.

Reviewer and Photographer: Amanda Starkey

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