On arrival we’re greeted with free drinks and buckets of crispy chicken – did this enhance why it was one of the best gigs? Perhaps. How they thought they were going to squeeze 700 people inside this hotel was beyond me – but seeing only a dozen punters in the venue made it a little anticlimactic.
But then as we walked onto the balcony, we saw hundreds of fans lined up – not inside the hotel – but beneath the Story Bridge itself. From above, we could see red cups in everyone’s hand, were they holding red cups of gin and tonic or a gift from Colonel Sanders?
Alasdair Murray, known by his stage name Illy, made a grand entrance down the fire escape and onto the main stage. He jumped straight into his 2019 single ‘Then What’, before launching into all the hits from his most recent album ‘Two Degrees’. Pat Gabriel, who has toured with Illy as a keyboardist over the last seven years, tried his hand performing on guitar, but you would think it was like he was playing from his mother tongue.
The sheer gratefulness and appreciation expressed by the Melbourne rapper was something so raw that you just don’t see from many performers, putting his hands together repeatedly for the crowd throughout the night. From Catch 22 to Tightrope, the audience lapped it up.
But just when we’d thought he’d played it all, in came the baseline of Silverchair’s ‘Tomorrow’. A beautiful cover paying homage to our own backyard – wait – is that Hilltop Hoods? The subtle high notes of Hilltop Hoods ‘Nosebleed Section’ smoothly transitioned into Silverchair which was then followed by sounds of Paul Kelly, Powderfinger and Flume. A massive mix, highlighting all the best from our sunburnt country.
Illy closed the night with song, ‘Papercuts’, which features the much loved folk-Esque singer Vera Blue. It was a special moment shared by all, being one of the last times he plays his old tunes, hinting at the release of a new album on the horizon, and a not so subtle hint of a Brissy show in the mix for the new year.