Hot off the heels from a new solo album and a sold out hometown show in Melbourne, Adalita played a raw, endearing and captivating set of songs that showcased not only her guitar-shredding talents but also her band’s. However, a weak and disrespectful crowd unfortunately plagued the night.
The Coolangatta Hotel was Adalita’s final stop on the mainland, as it was for the enchanting support act of Laura Jean. She adapted an orchestral yet charming style of vocal arrangement, which superbly fitted her creative, poetic lyrics. Laura’s music encompassed a cross between Joni Mitchell and PJ Harvey, both in the insanely inventive song writing and the mystical guitar licks. She dropped covers of Lana Del Rey and Neil Young, which played fluidly into her musical range. Her performance was only viewed by twenty-odd punters, but it was an act that stuck with me for days to come.
Adalita then honoured the Coolangatta Hotel stage with the pounding first chords of ‘Annihilate Baby’. Instantly from the get go, you understand why she is one of Australia’s most beloved female singer/songwriters. She has a raw and magnetic voice and yet there is no opening of vulnerability throughout the night. All Day Venus is her new solo outing – following 2011’s self-titled solo debut and the indefinite hiatus of the Adalita-fronted Magic Dirt in 2010 caused by the death of bassist Dean Turner – and employs the same expressive song writing from her debut, only these new songs pack a heavier punch from the full band.
I previously saw Adalita at this year’s BIGSOUND conference and it gave us a chance to preview these songs before they were released. For that show she played solo, just woman and guitar. While it provided a narrow scope as to what these songs would sound like on the album, the entire time I was thinking, “How would she sound with a band?” But thankfully, Adalita’s band on this tour was electrifying. At times, during extended codas and jams, Adalita and her band broke out into a borderline shoegaze band bringing the dense guitar tones which often took precedence over the vocal levels. These captivating moments gave the songs the amount of power Adalita was searching for on the record – the tough exterior of the melodies and crushing guitars with the open exposure of the lyrics pertaining to love and lose. The two elements complimented each other blissfully throughout the night yet was ramped up to absolute 11 during My Ego. The rhythmic drums accompanied by the droning yet melodic guitar forced the band to be pushed by Adalita’s sincere lyrics.
Taking a rest from newer material, Adalita found herself to be alone on the stage, ready to crank out a few heart-tuggers from her debut album. While these songs provided a more intimate and mellow experience with the former Magic Dirt front woman, the songs seemed trivial and I was left wondering when the band would rejoin Adalita for another huge number from All Day Venus. The biggest letdown of the night was the weak 40+ attendance with some too drunk to even realise a band was playing. With the constant chatter also happening throughout songs, it was beginning to be a challenge to hear the music anymore. The majority of the audience felt like nothing more than a Saturday night pub crowd.
Lyrics, to me, are the last part of a song that I hear and understand. Yet these songs took a whole other presence in their live setting and allowed me to comprehend them deeper. Perhaps it was the almost-shoegaze backing band that Adalita tugged along with her, but in just over an hour I felt like I knew Adalita better than I know any of my friends. I left the Coolangatta Hotel knowing I understood Adalita’s songs better, but could not help but get past the rude and disrespectful punters.