Live Review: Clare Bowditch & The New Slang + Andy Bull + Glenn Richards – Metro, Sydney (23.10.10)

Further to the release of her fourth album, Modern Day Addiction, and a recent live performance with MySpace Secret Shows at Melt Bar, ARIA award-winning singer-songwriter Clare Bowditch returned to Sydney and rocked out Saturday, October 23rd at the Metro Theatre.

First to open the night was local singer-songwriter Andy Bull, accompanied by his guitarist, who played songs from new EP The Phantom Pains (released September 2010), including “Last Waltz” (featuring Hungry Kids of Hungary) and “Dog” (featuring Lisa Mitchell). If you’re not familiar with the young man’s music, he is particularly known for his unique and angelic voice, which he joked about and described as ‘sounding’ like a 15 year-old. A few jokes here and there, stories behind the lyrics, ‘subliminal’ EP advertising, exceptional keyboard dexterity and impeccable vocals… Bull did well, appeared extremely confident, and surely conquered an array of admirers that evening.

A (short) while later, Glenn Richards (Augie March) took to the stage and openly confessed feeling tired, hungover, and a little bit drunk. “I’ve had a bit too much to drink backstage…” he said, and that could have got us worried, but we all know what goes on offstage, and it certainly did not affect his performance. A very poignant, stripped-down acoustic set consisting of old songs from Augie March and new ones from his up-coming solo album Glimjack (release date 29 October 2010).

It was a little disappointing to see a rather mediocre turn out to watch the first two supporting acts, plus quite disagreeable to hear the crowd talking over Bull and Richards’ sets.

Clare Bowditch didn’t make it to stage before 10.40pm, but treated us with two really talented artists to compensate the wait – bearing in mind that the doors opened at eight, early birds have had quite a bit to drink as well…

When the curtain re-opened, it unveiled diva Bowditch and her backup vocal trio (commonly known as “The Lady Garden”) walking barefoot towards the stage and wearing long flowy dresses.

The title track “Modern Day Addiction” got immediately recognised by a bunch of fans in the front rows that started clapping along with The Lady Garden crew.

Clare had in fact been throwing an online competition where lucky winners had the chance to hang out with her prior to the show for a private clapping and dance moves session.  She played mostly songs from her latest record, but also older ones such as “When The Lights Went Down”, which as soon as she started playing the first notes invaded Metro with a wave of cheers from back to front.

One of the greatest things about Clare’s show is not just her vocal performance, but how she interacts with her audience. Lady Bowdo is a true and genuine performer who doesn’t just turn up on stage to execute a succession of songs. You may find her boogie to her tunes, impersonating Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, putting on retro sunglasses, improvising songs, or even inviting someone to the scene. And, she did it all.

She is a regular and active user of social media Twitter, and she shared the story of one of her followers who goes by the name of “Ginger Chris” – a twitterer who’s been heavily messaging her to figure out what unidentified instrument could be heard half way through the track “Prinz Willy”. The back and forth online messaging between the two led Ginger Chris to play toy aeroplane under the Metro’s spotlights.

Her six piece band (aka The New Slang) is also highly interactive; the vocal trio undertook some dance routines on most tunes, and her guitar player appeared from backstage on “Running”, dressed up as an ’80s jogger, and started running around the crowd.

Just before the encore, Clare offered a stunning and energetic cover of David Bowie’s “Fashion”, followed by “Bigger Than The Money”, embarking the majority of the public to a global dance off and sing along session.  Before she concluded with a touching interpretation of “Stars”, she made up a song especially for Sydney, and it quite simply went in crescendo, with something like this “Sydney, Sydney, Sydney…” .

Clare Bowditch put on a great show, looked gorgeous and full of energy. Sadly and inexplicably, Metro wasn’t sold out, and those who failed to attend definitely missed out one of Sydney’s best live gigs of the month.

Tags: , ,