Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Review: Claire Bowditch at The Hi-Fi for Tom Magazine

Clare Bowditch and The New Slang/ Glenn Richards/ Little Scout
The Hi-Fi 08/10/2010 


Clare Bowditch brought her ‘Lady Garden’, her Julia Gillard impersonation and an unfortunate case of "throatitis" to her set at West End’s The Hi Fi, touring her fourth release, Modern Day Addiction. Opening acts, local four-piece Little Scout, and Glenn Richards of Augie March, got a raw deal, as the rain seemed to keep most of the punters at bay. By the time The Hi-Fi’s glowing steps started filling, Glenn Richards’ evocative set, pre-empting his solo record release next month, was already winding down. Even the ears attentive to Richards’ considerable vocal work wouldn’t have heard too much over the din of rest of the crowd, concerned with finding a spot to perch or a drink. Following final number, ‘This Train Will Be Taking No Passengers’ the relaxed chatter from the lounging crowd grew until the stage lit up nearly twenty minutes later.

The set got into swing straight away, with upbeat opener, ‘Modern Day Addiction’. From the very first chords, two things were evident: one, the presence of Bowditch’s newfangled eight-piece band gives the impression of a musical jamboree unfolding before your eyes, and, two, Bowditch never leaves home without her earnestly jolly, down-to-earth stage presence. The combination of both was refreshing, inviting the audience in for a hug and a daggy little dance. We quickly learnt that Bowditch was suffering from throat troubles and a possible fever (notable from her pleas to her friend at the light box to turn the heat down), but hey, the show must go on! Despite her ill health and somewhat diminished voice, Bowditch maintained great audience interaction and impressed with her renowned Julia Gillard impersonation. The red hair helps, but believe me, it’s spot on!

Early highlights were hit, ‘When the Lights Went Down’ and heartfelt new track, ‘A Lucky Life’, which she dedicated to her children asleep at home. Bowditch’s voice began to wear a bit thin, and she vacated the stage for some "medical injections from my practitioner and some oxygen". This was a chance for her talented ‘Lady Garden’ (backing singers) to take the spotlight. Their harmonies were gorgeous, and they grabbed the attention (and possibly stole the hearts) of most patrons. A slightly recuperated Clare returned, full of praise for her band, and with some killer tracks left in her. ‘A E I O You’ got some bodies moving, but the following two songs, ‘Running’ and ‘The Start of War’ drew the most energy from the crowd and Clare herself.

A croaky but spirited Bowditch then brought Melbourne songstress Georgia Fields on stage to tackle the much-loved ‘You Look So Good’, which her sweet sound and retro-demure get-up perfectly complimented. I wouldn’t be surprised if this rendition won the delightful Fields a few extra fans. Clare was back in action less than a minute later, taking on Bowie’s ‘Fashion’ complete with dance moves, and finishing off the intimate set with crowd-pleaser, ‘Bigger Than The Money’. As an encore, we were treated to a sing-a-long version of ‘Lips Like Oranges’ after Bowditch confirmed she could "get one more song out of this voice", and a lovely end to the evening. It takes a great performer to put on a show one will remember fondly while losing their voice, and what a performer she is.
By Anna Angel

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