Live Review: Roo Panes + Anabelle Kay – The Toff In Town, Melbourne (15.03.17)

I never miss a support act when I’m reviewing.  Ever. I think it’s important to support the support every chance you get. Almost every artist we admire has been a support act at some point. Tonight, sadly, I missed Anabelle Kay‘s slot at The Toff In Town owing to circumstances beyond my control. I’m sorry, Anabelle!

Despite the best efforts of traffic, public transport and legs that didn’t want to work, I did get to the venue just in time for Roo Panes‘ set to begin. It was standing room only, with folk taking every available vantage point, and I was thankful for the airconditioning as it was still 30 degrees outside at 9pm.

I’d been lucky enough to meet and interview Roo earlier in the day – you can check it out here – and after listening to the articulate and interesting way he discusses music I was very much looking forward to seeing him perform.

Ever have those moments where something is so intensely beautiful you just have to close your eyes to cope? That’s how it felt for me when he first started to sing and his voice filled the room, even when it was barely more than a breath. The space was intimate enough to hear, and feel, every nuance of his singing, and it was flawless.

I’d told him towards the end of our conversation earlier…well, maybe it was more like gushing, no doubt awkwardly…that his voice, to me, is the perfect voice. It’s a big call telling someone that, and heaven knows he may have thought I was ridiculous, but it’s true…Roo’s voice is perfection. He can sing with a softness that brings tears to your eyes, yet he can also sing with a power that lifts the hair on the back of your neck. He sometimes seems to sing with harmonics; a clear note on one pitch with a huskier, more raw note underpinning it. No matter how he was singing it was magical. He has all the hallmarks of a man who truly treats and understands his voice as an instrument.

As if it isn’t enough that he’s got the voice of several angels, he’s also a brilliant guitarist.  Watching him play with astonishing variety and technique – he’s self-taught, too, which just doesn’t seem fair – yet with such ease was captivating. He knows exactly how to bring the best out of it. I was delighted to see him pick up the 12-string, though. I’m a sucker for a 12-string guitar because of the depth and range of tones a well-played one can deliver. He certainly didn’t disappoint, and when he was picking it was a thing of beauty.

To top it all off, he’s just a thoroughly charming guy, including being really, really, ridiculously good-looking, and his humility and sense of humour shone through in his chats with the crowd between songs.

It’s not hard to see that I thought it was wonderful. It wasn’t long enough, and I definitely hope it isn’t another eight years before he hits these shores again, but I’ll take it. If you’re in Brisbane I heartily recommend you get along to see him before he heads home.


March 18th | Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane (18+) | Ph: 1300 762 545




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