Live Review: Little May + E^ST + Australia – Metro Theatre, Sydney (06.05.16)

If I were to ever offer any pieces of advice to the gig going public, there would be two bits. The first would be to try avoid living more than 50km from the venue you’re attending, while the second would be to make sure you don’t forget to N/A work the night of a show.

Making the mad dash to the Metro Theatre having not followed my own advice by forgetting to N/A work, the traffic and parking gods were good to me as I made it to the venue with plenty of time to spare before Little May set about absolutely crushing the second show of their For The Company album tour.

Opening the night was local act Australia (not the country or country music, as they alluded to through their set), who weren’t always on point, but definitely enjoyed what they were doing. I only caught the last couple tracks, but from what I saw you could tell they were a band who were embracing being on such a big stage, in such a big venue.

Next up was Central Coaster E^ST. I’ve seen E^ST a fair few times over the past 18 months, and the growth as a performer that she’s made in that time has been pretty bloody exponential. Her on-stage presence has grown, as was showcased in her ability to get the crowd involved and build the moment of the room as she progressed through out her set. Dropping her mashed up cover of “Bittersweet Symphony/ Teardrops”, E^ST closed out her 40 minute set with her 2015 single, “The Alley”. I was in the audience when she initially debuted it last year, and it’s still as sweet a tune now as it was then.

Headliners for the night were locals Little May. Having been kicking around under the Little May moniker for the past couple years, the trio of Annie Hamilton, Liz Drummond and Hannah Field (ably supported by their band) wandered on to the stage in near darkness, before lighting up the theatre with their delicate harmonies and elegant musicianship.

Opening up with album opener “Cicadas”, the near capacity crowd stood in awe as Hannah’s vocals floated through out. Following up with “Seven Hours”, this was an early highlight of the set, as the band took the chance to thank those in attendance for coming out to a hometown show. Swiftly moving into “Home”, this was the track that the Sydney crowd frothed on from the beginning. The appearance of a tambourine only made it that much better.

Falsely jumping the gun and announcing they were to play their ’22, angsty and a little confused’ track in “Hide”, Hannah quickly took back her words before moving into “Bow & Arrow”. Finally moving onto “Hide”, I was drawn back to why I initially fell in love with Little May. An early track from the band, the live performance maintained the rawness of the original harmonies; something that enamoured the band to their fans. The flashing of Annie’s smile to the crowd only reinforced the warmth within the room, and the love she had for that exact moment.

I reviewed Little May’s For The Company back at the time of its release. At the time, I’d just returned from the loosest six weeks ever in Europe. I was a mess, severely jet lagged, and an absolute shell of a human being. For The Company was the record that helped put my mangled mess of a being back together. For the next fortnight, I breathed this album, and for that, I can’t thank the girls enough.

Speaking about how they recorded their album a year ago with The National’s Aaron Dessner, the band dropped a sneaky little cover of Icehouse’s “Great Southern Land”. With green and gold lighting to set the mood and build the nationalistic vibe, if this was to be performed where I’m from, Southern Cross tattoos would be out in force, and the next track up would have been “Khe Sanh”. Unfortunately a bit of ‘Chisel didn’t appear, but was more than suitably replaced by “The Shine Is Brighter at Night”. The most simply beautiful track on For The Company, this was my favourite moment of the night.

Announcing they only had two more left for the night, the racing “Dust” made its appearance. I’m a little ashamed to admit, but you know those songs you definitely know, but for the life of you can’t remember the title? Well “Dust” was this song for me. Closing out the main set with “Remind Me”, I was reminded of Daughter and their current set closer “Fosser”. Both are tunes, both are choice set closers. Quite a drastic removal from the folky vibe of the band, “Remind Me” is a belter.

After quickly exiting the stage before re-entering just as swiftly, the band closed on possibly their most well known track, “Boardwalks”, which is also the first track they worked on together as a band. It was a joyous three minutes, full of hand claps, cheers and a sweet little hoedown not too far from where I was standing. Setting the Metro stage alight for an hour, judging by the performance the band put together, those Little May fans who have purchased tickets to their upcoming shows have made a wise investment.

Their show is one of beauty, love and plenty of juicy tunes. Little May are a big thing, there’s no doubt there.

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