Live Review: Jess Ribeiro + Leah Senior - Northcote Social Club, Melbourne (26.09.15)

Have you ever felt the fun immediately get sucked out of something? Maybe you’ve had a flashback to something awkward or doofy you did one time far after the fact, or maybe you’ve felt a sudden unwelcome ache of the body or the heart. It’s not a feeling anyone seeks out but it’s one that comes with the territory of life. But generally, unless you’re being a creeper and following your ex’s band around, this feeling stays away from the band room. Unfortunately, Saturday at the Northcote Social Club didn’t get this memo.

As I hid at the back of the room, it was obvious that Leah Senior wished that she too could hide. As she stood on the stage, you could see that the hands wrapped around the guitar where there to stop them shaking and as she introduced herself, her voice ended with the slightest bit of a quake. She took a deep breath and as soon as her fingers pluck the strings, this anxious air dissipated. Instead, before us stood a figure had mastered their sorrows and worries, letting them pour out through a voice deep and haunting. Before I arrived at the venue I searched for a sign of Leah Senior online, finding the only thing being a comparison from her own mouth to Nick Drake. And while at first I wondered how anyone could stand up to the legendary writer of Pink Moon, after that performance I find myself having to eat those words.

Jess Ribeiro and her band are ready for a good time right from the get go. She chats idly as the crowd roars with laughter at her tales. The air about is a carefree one, as Ribeiro jumps into each snippet from her album Kill it Yourself as if it were a lake. Considering how she openly admits to "being a bit tipsy and having hayfever", it's remarkable how solid her performance is. Particularly of highlight is 'Run Rabbit Run', a throwback to those days George Harrison truly felt like going wild, complete with a long and dissonant guitar intro and a finishing breakdown that wouldn’t be out of place in a film about Vietnam war soldiers. And then, while tuning for "Hurry Back to Love", Riberio made an autism joke, coupled with a few crude ‘Rainman’ twitches. And while the crowd give a chuckle, I, the autistic, felt that familiar feeling of fun leaving.

Ribeiro's voice still carries brilliantly despite the slowly increasing number of drinks and amount of time between songs, but unfortunately the damage is done and I can't quite bring myself to stop being on edge. It's a bummer considering but all it takes is one wrong word to bring down the evening.