Saturday, 17 May 2014

Gig Review - Ella Hooper

 Ella Hooper
Supported by Airling and Gena Rose Bruce
Live @ Black Bear Lodge (15/05/14)
Words by Matt Bond
Pics by Nayt Housman

 Good things come to those who wait…

Everyone has been raving this week about the Rocky Horror twitter joke that took five years to pay off. If you’re unfamiliar, it went down a little something like this:

If you condense the timeline from five years to two, the release of Ella Hooper’s debut solo album, In Tongues is quite similar to faux Furter’s antici... patory build up. The recently re-released single, ‘Low High’ initially surfaced around this time in 2012. Catchy and all mysterious like, ‘Low High’ showed a new side of Hooper, a stalwart of the Australian music industry since the late 90s. Her transition to indie chanteuse was solidified with ‘Häxan’, a bewitching number that stands in line with the best songs of 2013. But where was the follow through? In Tongues would pop up on release schedules and then quietly disappear. My heart would break… *cough*. What? Nothing. And then it was announced late last year that Ella would be taking on the role of team captain on a revamped version of ABC’s popular music quiz show, Spicks and Specks. Some prominent exposure on national television can go a long way (just ask anyone that’s ever been on Home and Away), so what better time than now to really have a crack at launching that solo career! After quite some time between visits, Ella Hooper returned to Brisbane on Thursday night on one of the last stops of the Low High Tour. We were finally going to get a real sense of what In Tongues will be. It’s been a long road that has felt like forever, but the pay off? Let’s just say our antici… pation is going to pay off in spades.


Four out of five It’s My Kind of Scene-sters were on hand at the Black Bear Lodge for Ella’s show (we missed you Lou!), a night jam-packed full of the very best in live music. There was also a lot of unnecessary pelvic thrusts coming from Nayt and surprisingly Katie (Jo’s dignity remains intact), but that’s a tale for another time. Up first was Brisbane’s own Airling aka Hannah Shepherd, who was joined by multi-instrumentalist Graham Richie for their first ever gig! Airling’s dreamy sound is just so full of win, with Shepherd’s ethereal voice shining amongst the beats and fancy electronic wizardry. Technical terms are not my strongpoint, but Shepherd and Richie had some cool looking gear on stage with them. The previously released track ‘Ouroboros’ was a highlight of the set, with other tracks like ‘Runner’ and ‘Take Care Of You’ showing off Shepherd’s skills as a songwriter. One might even call them ‘mad’ skills. Bro. Shepherd and Richie make quite the team and if they hadn’t mentioned it, you wouldn’t have guessed this was their first gig. Anyway, Airling… release some more recordings soon please. You provide many good feels.

Gena Rose Bruce

After a short break, Gena Rose Bruce walked on up to the stage and picked up her dream catcher adorned guitar. She had a big, floppy red hat on that left an eyebrow raised because, you know, nighttime and indoors, but as soon as soon as she started to sing… wow. What a voice. There’s a bit of Taylor Swift in here, but it’s like if T-Sweezy let go of the nice girl act and embraced the fact that she’s the problem in all of her relationships. Rose dropped songs on the crowd like ‘Homewrecker’, ‘Cheated’ and a stellar rendition of Nancy Sintatra’s ‘Bang Bang’ for the encore. I’m pretty sure there was a song in there about killing someone too. The darker lyrics against the sweet vocals are all kinds of crazy good. It’s safe to say Bruce won over many new fans at the Black Bear, myself and Nayt included. We each picked up a copy of her ‘Wild One Baby’ EP, which I’ve only just realised Katie has in her bag. Katie, if you’re reading this, I know where you live, thief!

Ella Hooper

Just after 10pm the night’s headliner, Ella Hooper joined her band before graciously thanking her Brisbane fans for coming out on a school night. An announcement came that In Tongues would be released in June… or July. But it is coming this year. For reals this time, y’all. Ella had been out hitting the Brisbane op shops during the day and was rocking an all-white ensemble, complete with a silver moon necklace. A sister of the moon, she was. Before you can sing, “just like the white-winged dove, sings a song sounds like she’s singing… ooh… ooh… ooh,” Hooper launched into the opening number. She was ready to rock and or roll, busting out quirky dance moves that had you wanting to bop along with her. As compelling a performer as ever, her charismatic presence on stage draws you in. Those killer yodeling vocals have always been a trademark and with years of experience, from Killing Heidi to The Verses and now as a solo artist, Ella is in complete control of it. The live performance of ‘Haxan’ is a perfect example. Seductive and sultry one moment and seething with a fiery rage the next, Hooper can wield her voice like a weapon.

My favourite ‘artist banter’ line was delivered as Ella said she was, “going to take it down” for a couple of songs. Which is always code for ‘taking a trip to ballad town via the emotional train’ and we got not one, but two of the quieter moments from In Tongues, ‘Everything Was…’ and ‘Reels’. Apart from two drunk chicas wearing ugly sweaters, Hooper had the crowed completely transfixed, particularly with ‘Reels’ which was written for some friends in the crowd that had made the journey up from Melbourne for the gig. I didn’t need any more convincing, but ‘Reels’ reaffirms my belief that In Tongues is going to kick all kinds of awesome music booty. I forgot to mention, but the album’s title track was shit hot too. It was the second song of the night and has a hook that will grab you and jab in its claws. Like all of the other non-ballad tracks, it too came with quirky choreography you will never be able to successfully emulate.

Ella Hooper

Following the ballads, it was onto a track described as Hooper’s disco number, ‘Dead Star’ which saw the energetic, upbeat vibe return and then we were suddenly at our last song of the night, ‘Low High’. Everything was ending too soon… but time flies when you’re having fun or something, right? Hooper had addressed that she loves a bit of a chat with the audience, so she found herself running a bit behind. This meant no encore, but whatever, ‘Low High’ sent us off on way more of a high than a low and got those shoulders shaking. If Ella Hooper proved anything at the Black Bear, it’s that she’s an artist worth waiting for. We’ve waited patiently for her to return to Brisbane and to get our hands on In Tongues. She certainly proved with the former that good things come to those who wait. As for the latter, that long shiver with antici… pation is almost over. June… or July… can’t come soon enough.     

No comments:

Post a Comment

Love it or hate it? Agree or disagree? Let me know what you think!