The music that started without announcement or warning was a lovely way to ease into a night at the Annandale. Through The Forest Door started to play to a half-empty bar and didn’t stop until the end of his set. He didn’t say his name or the names of his songs once, so I had to look at the playing times on the bar to figure out who this random guy on stage was. His music fit perfectly in the background to the sound of people chatting and it was a treat to relax early in the night.
I wish I could say the same of Laura Imbruglia. She experienced some sound and feedback problems in the first couple of songs and it was incredibly hard to understand her lyrics clearly at the back of the bar. Even though her voice was loud compared to her guitar she sounded shrill in some songs, a shame, since we know from her album The Lighter Side Of… she has a strong and beautiful voice. When she covered Roger Miller’s song ‘My Uncle Used to Love Me But She Died’, I felt like I’d stumbled into a hoedown and at any minute, people would be boot-scooting across the Annandale floor.
Adalita ambled on stage after guitarist J.P. Shilo had been teasing us with the intro to ‘Jewel Thief’ for a few minutes. She won everyone’s attention early by pounding on a drum with one hand and pointing at us with the other. I don’t think there was one person in the bar who looked away before the song finished.
Adalita’s voice was in fine form and it was such a relief after the problems Imbruglia had faced on stage. No note was lost in any part of the set and her voice was able to resonate over the vibration of the bass on the walls.
‘Full of Rope’ from Magic Dirt album Girl was the second song of the night and I think we were all a bit surprised to hear it. Adalita didn’t look as comfortable behind her guitar as usual and acted like she wasn’t sure how to move with it, a far cry from the Adalita I’ve seen live before. Whatever the issue, it didn’t take long to disappear and she went on to deliver a grinding version of ‘Invite Me’ to a nearly silent crowd.
A few of the songs on album Adalita are reminiscent of Magic Dirt, so much so, at the start of ‘Hot Air’ – the opening track on her album – my friend turned to me and said: “This is a Magic Dirt song, isn’t it?” It’s a comparison that is inevitable but harmless, since the songs on her album are of such high quality both recorded and live. ‘Going Down’ immediately reminds me of ‘Vulcanella’, with its heavy guitar riff and half sung, half spoken lyrics. But unlike ‘Vulcanella’ that sometimes lost its momentum live, ‘Going Down’ is rocking from start to finish and is the stand out song of the night.
“Thanks to everyone for coming out and supporting live music. Good on ya!” is her farewell and ‘The Repairer’ is the last song before the encore.
Adalita thanks us all again for coming out and the final song of the night is ‘Taxi Club’, a song co-written with Magic Dirt band mate Raul Sanchez.