8pm on a Tuesday night and 170 Russell St was completely sold out. There were no gaps leading up to the stage – no room to move, barely any to breathe. It’s never comfortable to feel like a human sardine, but Mahalia made it well worth it.
A self-proclaimed “sexy R&B princess” hailing from Leicester, Mahalia was on stage to present her full-release debut album, ‘Love & Compromise’. Before she did, however, Adrian Eagle opened for her. Positive, uplifting with a strong voice and an even stronger message, Adrian could be compared to a ray of sunshine or a pure hit of serotonin. His voice was distinctive and powerful, and his personality kind. He shined on stage and did an incredible job at setting the atmosphere for Mahalia. He moved energetically, connecting with the audience through pop and soul. When he left the stage to mingle with the crowd, he was well-received.
In many ways, Mahalia enhanced what Adrian had set up. She came on stage and the crowd cheered, and without a moment of hesitation, she launched into “Hide Out”, a song that uses soothing vocals to explore the rather painful issues of cheating and manipulation in a relationship. These themes aren’t unique to “Hide Out” – they’re ideas Mahalia actively explores in her music, alongside heartbreak, self-confidence and loss.
After delivering her first song, Mahalia started chatting. She explained that although it wasn’t a comedy show, she had a few things to say. They differed from explaining how happy and overwhelmed she was to be back in Melbourne to admitting that she was currently overcoming a chest infection and may take breaks during songs to catch her breath.
That was important to acknowledge, because although Mahalia started off strong, there were many moments during her show where she simply wasn’t able to hit the high notes nor maintain them. During several tracks, there was also use of vocal backing tracks that she sang along to.
Although this was disappointing, her strong and cheerful personality on stage helped make up for it. She was engaged with the audience, explaining the meanings behind songs like “Karma”, “Do Not Disturb” and “He’s Mine”. She discussed the importance of consent and setting boundaries in relationships through her song “Good Company” and danced hard to “What Am I?” and “Simmer”. She moved vibrantly on the stage, showing off great dance moves and smiling widely for most of it.
She finished the night by reminding the men in the audience that it’s okay to cry, the women that it’s important to be confident and her ex that she doesn’t miss him with “I Wish I Missed My Ex”.
At the end of the night, we’d been taken on a romantic rollercoaster by both Mahalia and Adrian Eagle. Both artists delivered messages of positivity and self-care through smooth and melodic vocals. Ultimately, as interesting and fun as Mahalia’s personality was, her ability to deliver did lack that night – but that can be chalked up to her chest infection. Hopefully in the future not only will she feel better, but will also continue to deliver dazzling, powerhouse songs.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
If you’d like to catch her on the rest of her tour, or simply follow her journey, click HERE.