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Wed, 13 Apr 2005

Missy Higgins first headline tour, Canberra gig - 23:48
Tonight I went and saw Missy Higgins and two support artists (Dave Macdonald and Serena Ryder) at the Canberra gig of her first headline Australian tour. I went with Prue, her friend Liz and Rob Parnell (long time friend of mine, who I rang this morning to see if he was keen as some other friend had dropped out)

I have been a huge fan of Missy Higgins ever since hearing her unearthed performance on Triple J 3 or 4 years ago. Until her self titled EP was released I was subsisting on the recording of "All for believing Triple" J had for download and the few real audio files of one or two other tracks. When the EP was released I was so excited I talked a friend at Triple J into getting me a copy a month before it was released, then I bought a copy as soon as I could anyway. Needless to say I am an avid fan and love the fact Missy is getting so much popular recognition in Australia (and the US too I should note).

Before going in to the seats I saw Chris, Kelly, Martin (BCG) and Mel. As I have no idea about music and BCG does I suggest reading what he writes about the gig if he does a review. I had a chat to them about the impending gig, how excited I was, what the hell I was doing slacking off from organising lca, etc. I forgot to thank Martin for getting me hooked on Jodi Martin, I am sure I will remember one day. I was telling Martin about a brilliant cover I had heard Missy perform on Triple J one day but could not remember the details. The song I heard covered was Patty Griffin's song Moses, I adored the Missy Higgins cover and would love to get hold of a copy somehow, it has not yet been released on any album so I can not buy it alas. Heck I would even like to hear the Patty Griffin version as I have not heard that (I have a Melissa Ferrick album with a cover of Moses which is why the lyrics were familiar)

I really should start talking about the gig I suppose, after all, sleep beckons. The opening support act was Dave Macdonald (spelling?), who I found unexciting. He was a very good guitarist, in his playing you could hear some really interesting techniques and combinations of ideas. He meshed his voice very well to his guitar music, however I found his voice completely uninspiring and uninteresting. Many of his tracks had a common sounding basic melody going, however he added some rather cool bits on top of it in different songs to differentiate. It sounded like he had some switch or similar on the guitar to change tuning or acoustics easily as it seemed to switch from a deep hollower sound to a higher pitched squeakier sound a few times. As for his voice, as I said it did not interest me, he had one lyric that really stood out in my mind which was great. "the junkies in the subways are the canaries of our souls" which has some good imagery and language use.

The second support act, Serena Ryder, can be summed up in one word I think. Brave. Serena opened with a vocal number that came off brilliantly, if the rest of her set had continued in that vein it would have been amazing. After this though she picked up a guitar and it started going downhill. For an artist with such an amazingly capable voice it was a shame she did not have the guitar skill or some other instrument with which to back it up. Especially following a guitar player as good as Dave Macdonald, Serena's lack of guitar ability shone through. Worse yet she had some tuning problems and eventually requested another guitar from backstage, seemingly one that was not her own. I was interested a fair bit in Serena's music mostly because of the capability of her voice as she used it in most of the tracks she played. If anything though she overused her voice, using it at times as some form of instrument with which to hit you over the head, going from quiet to loud within words of the lyrics for no real apparent reason.

This reminded me of an mp3 John Zigman told me about a few weeks ago, some friend of his had sent it to him, it starts of really quiet for a few minutes, so much so that you need to turn your speakers way up to hear anything. Then a few minutes in this voice says really loudly "stop looking at porn at work and spying on your co workers" or something along those lines, basically designed such that if played at work it will be heard by everyone on the floor due to having your speakers turned up so high. I am however probably going off on a tangent here, the comparison did however make me giggle. Speaking of amusing tangents, this is a good sig as used by Dave@

Never go off on tangents, which are lines that intersect a curve at only one point and were discovered by Euclid, who lived in the 6th century, which was an era dominated by the Goths, who lived in what we now know as Poland. - Nov. 1998 issue of Infosystems Executive.

I may however have become sidetracked once more, I liked Serena Ryder's voice, but agree with what Rob suggested,she really needs to go away and learn to play some instrument really really well in order to use it in support of her voice.

Most of us were of course there to see Missy Higgins perform, and I am glad to say she did not disappoint. Missy herself did a stunning job. Opening with a new (unreleased) song and then continuing with a fairly good range of tracks, almost half the material she performed was unreleased which I personally enjoy (woohoo new stuff). My favourite Missy Higgins song, Special Two, was performed last of the night and I enjoyed it, Scar was in there somewhere. Ten Days and Nightminds came across differently, as did a few of the others, which gets me to the part of the performance I struggled to get used to or enjoy. There was a largish backup band playing with Missy, some features of it were cool (as suggested by Missy herself) such as an Accordian. However there was a bit much backing music noise at times I thought. Somewhat drowning Missy and her wonderful piano playing out, or sometimes simply being too loud and solid for the song being performed. Part of my problem here I am sure is being unused to hearing some of those tracks with all the extra instruments, however I really would like to see the volume or noise level altered a bit.

This is Missy Higgins' first headline tour, and it appears she is handling it well, at times Missy did seem somewhat overwhelmed to be the headline act and on stage wowing so many people, however at the age of 21 I think she is handling this amazingly well. I look forward with much anticipation to seeing how Missy Higgins music develops over the coming years.

To conclude (for now) Missy Higgins rocked and fun was had.

Update: BCG has yet to put a review up, however Michael Neuling has mentioned the gig, and he reminded me of something else, Josh from The Waifs was playing guitar for Missy, which is pretty cool. I remember when Missy introduced the band and I thought, is that the same Josh Cunningham, I was too far away to see him clearly obviously it was (I guess there are not huge numbers of capable folk guitar players named Josh Cunningham in Australia so the odds were good anyway)

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