Words by Shannon-Lee Sloane – The Colourful Writer.
Photos by Elizabeth Sharpe – Ummagummamumma – Live Music Photography.
Full gallery HERE.
Last night was different. Different in the most beautiful and divinely timed way possible. For the first time ever in my reviewing career I got to review a sit down gig at the Brisbane Powerhouse and it was an experience I will hold with me forever. It’s been years since I have been there, and I had forgotten about the raw beauty of the building itself. Last night was a crisp Brisbane winter night and the chill in the air soaked through my clothing and skin right to the bones. Walking briskly to the Powerhouse I felt small and overshadowed as I approached the tall, towering building. That was to change though, as soon as I entered, I felt welcomed and warm. Both by the overall energy and feeling there and the staff making myself and my photographer feel incredibly welcome. That welcoming feeling was doubled by the musician and band I was there to see, Clare Bowditch and her extremely talented band completely stole my heart last night.
There was time for a quick apple and ginger cider before the bells rung and the announcement came over the speakers that it was time to enter the room. As we walked into the room Planet Claire by The B52’s was playing. The most perfect song for Clare Bowditch to play as her intro. Clare Bowditch, Marty Brown (drums), Warren Bloomer (bass), Xani Kolac (violin and vocals), Andre Warhurst (guitar) and Cameron Fallow (keys) graced the stage to an admiring applause from fans ready for what was to be an outstanding performance. Clare greeted us with “Hello gorgeous people! What a treat this is! … We are going to dedicate this one to you…” before breaking into to You Look So Good which was delivered to perfection with vocals soaring through the high-ceilinged room like magic. Through the entire performance, the sound was just divine, and I take my hat off to their soundie and the crew there making sure it all ebbed and flowed as it should. With performers who are this naturally talented and experienced I would imagine that would make the soundie’s job an absolute pleasure.
There were certain words that came to mind the very minute Clare walked onto the stage and those words were confirmed when she began to talk, sing and perform. She stood, barefoot and real, strong and soft, passionate and determined on the stage as if she was most certainly born to be there. Divine. Delightful. Inspiring. Clare is all of these things and more. She interacted and connected with the audience on every possible level. She had us laughing, in tears, feeling loved, feeling inspired. She is a true and amazing performer and soul.
Clare commented jokingly “I am wearing the same dress as I am on the (tour) poster because I was worried you wouldn’t recognise me…” which got laughs from all those in attendance. One of the last times I was at Powerhouse was to see comedian, Arj Barker and I felt like last night I got live music and comedy as a bonus as well. What an absolute treat. I mentioned in my opening paragraph that attending last night’s performance was divinely timed for me and it really was. There is nothing like, after a long week of working every day and night until past midnight, with three sick kids (Ugh flu season is the worst) and feeling slightly overwhelmed with life, being able to sit down and feel like you’ve been wrapped up in the arms and embraced by some live music delivered by someone who is such an earth angel. At times Clare did seem angelic with the light directly above her and the smoke on the stage creating an ethereal vision.
Whilst Clare stole my full attention for most of the set, her band deserve full attention also. One thing is for sure, I have never in my life seen anyone play a violin like Xani plays her violin. She almost plays it like she is playing lead guitar. It is something to behold and I could easily watch just her on stage as a solo act. Xani also delivered an acknowledgement of country, paying respect to the traditional owners and ongoing custodians of the land. Another thing I noticed from the very beginning of the set was that this is not just a band, this is a family. The respect, love and appreciation for each other’s talents and roles within the band was clear and this is something I love to find when seeing a band perform for the first time.
Clare surprised the audience with a story about last night’s performance at the Gold Coast. It seems they had a rather big night with kick ons after and made friends with three ladies that had attended her show. Those three ladies were asked to join the band on stage to perform Between The Tea And The Toast. Now, not only did this surprise the audience but I am quite sure that initially, both the band and the ladies themselves would have been surprised too. But what an absolute honour it would have been for those three ladies. Another example of Clare’s beauty and kind heart.
My favourite story of the night though, was that of Clare’s connection to the brilliant Jeff Buckley. Clare spoke through the night of following your dreams in life and reflected on the moment when after working in a hum-drum day job for years she found herself one night stopping in at Gaslight Records and purchasing Jeff Buckley’s timeless ‘Grace’ album. Upon her purchase, she was issued a free ticket to see him perform in store that week. She attended the intimate performance and says at that moment; she felt her chest crack open. She knew then that music was what she was going to do. One of the songs she played last night, Strange Questions, is a personal favourite of mine from her first album ‘What Was Left’. This song most definitely shows an influence from the late and great Jeff Buckley. Oh bless his beautiful soul.
A shared moment of pure and raw emotion when Clare broke down while performing Your Own Kind Of Girl had eyes filled with tears throughout the entire room. The song is one of deep emotion and the title will also be the title of Clare’s upcoming memoir she is currently working on. The moment where Clare’s drummer and husband, Marty, stood up from his drums and held her while she continued the song had my heart sighing in appreciation of the beautiful connection and love they clearly have for each other. Not to mention the way keyboardist, Cameron kept his eyes close on Clare, making sure she was ok to keep going throughout the song. Again, this shows a deeper connection than just being in a band together. The feeling coming from the stage to those watching was something really special.
The set list was a perfected mix of songs old and new and whilst I thoroughly enjoyed the entire set, the stand outs for me where most definitely Strange Questions, Start Of War and the last two tracks they played, the new single Woman and finishing off with I Thought You Were God. I also had the pleasure of having the stunning Katie Noonan sitting behind me during the show and we were treated to a bonus performance from Katie when she joined Clare on stage to sing Woman with her. Katie is a divine vocalist and performer herself and is known by many from her time fronting local Brisbane rock outfit who are sadly no longer together, George.
Honestly, I could write for hours about last nights show, but I won’t include every moment. What I will do though is strongly suggest and encourage you get yourself to one of Clare’s upcoming shows because I can promise you a performance that will sit deep in your chest forever more. Although writing is my thing and feelings are something I think I can express well through words, on this occasion I struggle to find words to sum up last night overall. It was just simply everything and more. It was, the beautiful Clare Bowditch.
Tickets available from Clare’s Facebook page when you follow the links listed HERE.
JUN 8 – Tanks Arts Centre – Cairns
JUN 21 – QMF Concert Series: Clare Bowditch – Queenscliff Town Hall – Queenscliff, VIC
JUL 21 – SOLD OUT – Sing Song Showtime – July 2019 – Abbotsford Convent – Melbourne, VIC
JUL 28 – Tea With Jam And Clare: with special guest Clementine Ford – The Thornbury Theatre – City of Darebin, VIC
NOV 22 – Queenscliff Music Festival 2019 – Queenscliff Music Festival – Queenscliff, VIC