Saturday, 12 July 2014

Gig Review - Thelma Plum

Thelma Plum
@ The Old Museum, Brisbane (10/07/14)
Supported by MTNS
Words by Jo Michelmore

A cold and windy Thursday night in Brisbane, a long day, a long week already and a gig ticket in my hand. It had been such a week that if the ticket had said anything else, I may not have made the commitment I did, but I know something that has always stood beside me, made me feel alive and something I owe commitment to. That something is a friend called music and one of my favourite things is live music. When it's performed by one of my favourites and I've not had the pleasure of seeing her perform before? My commitment to music should never be doubted.


The long day I had meant I made it in just in time to hear the sounds of MTNS making their way through the historic walls of the Old Museum and what sounds they were. The last time I saw this band was in a much smaller venue and they were a much smaller band. While they have always seemed to be a band not afraid of layering and big full sounds, now a five piece, their added members have created a new dimension, added a fullness that I didn’t know was missing in the first place, which probably says a lot about how good they are anyway.

With their two new members the wall of sound they can now create on tracks like ‘Crave’ is enthralling, Tom’s vocals forceful and desperately reaching every corner of the room in a track “so new you’re only the third audience to hear it”, which could have been my favourite for the night, full of 80s inspired guitar effects and hair in your face, I felt like I was watching a young Michael Hutchence for a minute or two there, but again, it’s those spine tingling sing-along sounds and lyrics of ‘Salvage’ that has meant so much in the past and meant it all again on Thursday night that caught my attention like the first time (and every time I hear it) on the Salvage EP; “put your feet back on the ground and start walking….” MTNS get better every time I hear them and every time I see them, which is quite impressive considering how awesome they have always been and Thursday night was no exception. Music was already paying me back for making the effort to go and I still had another artist to see.

Thelma Plum

A tiny little bit of doubt crept into my mind after a wait and as the clock neared 10pm and my appearance at work on Friday seemed earlier and earlier the doubt started to rise, but it quickly disappeared with the dimming of lights as Thelma's three band mates made their way to the stage to play the first notes of a song I had never heard live before but had listened to a million times and, like it understood me, I understood it back to front. Thelma made her way to the front of the stage and there they were, those oh so familiar words "I hope you know this time's for good...."; the notes I adored surrounding me, the words I worshipped enveloping every part and the music I owed the effort of seeing paid me back with kindness immediately, venturing out is exactly what I needed and to venture to the gig of one of my favourite artists could hardly be a mistake.

Song after song, I couldn't quite believe how lucky I was to be seeing such a talent and that I ever doubted coming. 'King', 'Father Said' and her new track 'Monster' were all as rewarding as each other, her latest single 'How Much Does Your Love Cost' a definite bouncing standout, but the difference between hearing the songs at home and seeing them live is Thelma's sweet aura. Unassuming, a little awkward and terribly thankful, she exudes a subtle stage presence that is beautifully uncommon. When the instruments stop, her between song banter is natural and sweet, unrehearsed and genuine, but when she sings, music does that thing it does so well, it takes over and her talent shines. During her story about her lovely fellow passenger on her flight to Brisbane, when talking about her ex-boyfriend Nick Cave (you didn't hear it here first), her thoughts about her beautiful but uncomfortable dress were all like sharing words and laughs with a friend. Her cover of Chris Isaak's 'Wicked Game' was outstanding (and one JJJ Like A Version contenders should learn from) and the songs she performed solo with only her and a guitar were a testament to her songwriting skills, just as powerful alone as with her three band mates.

I have seen a lot of live music in my life, some of it has been amazing, some of it has been terrible, some of it has been life changing, some of it has created some of my favourite memories, but some of it, like Thelma on Thursday, has been a comfort, a warm blanket to wrap around myself on a cold night. When she returned to the stage for her encore and introduced 'Rosie', as the track she would play last, because it was written about "her favourite person in all the world" who only days before has passed away, it was just like sitting across a kitchen table and chatting about our days, but when those notes were played and those words were sung, the magic of music took over and Wednesday, Thursday, Friday didn't matter, it's the moments I'll take with me years from now that count. Left with a sing along to make us all go home really, really happy (every Thelma fan will know which song I'm referring to) I faced the cold night air of Brisbane with a different thought than how I left it only hours earlier. A smile, a bittersweet tear or two and a few hours that add to the millions of hours already gathered which I owe to music, but it always pays me back for the effort, so I'll never regret being indebted to it. Until next time Thelma...and next time, rain hail or shine, there will be no doubt as to whether I'll be there. I owe it to you and my sweet friend music.

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