photography by RICK CLIFFORD
Kicking off the year with performances from some of Australia’s favourites.
Saturday night was filled with music, drinks, and laughter at Mt. Duneed Estate. The iconic winery held Geelong’s iteration of the 2021 Sounds Better Together festival, featuring local acts Missy Higgins, Tones and I, Gordi, and Didirri.
Despite only being advertised for five days prior to the event, organisers Mushroom Group achieved an impressive turnout of over 4,000 eager festivalgoers.
The weather couldn’t have been better. There was not a cloud in sight, and as the evening went by the sunset beautifully over the picturesque farmland surrounding Mt. Duneed Estate.
If you missed this amazing night of live music or just want to relive the magic, a recording of the show will be airing on Channel 9 next Saturday at 7:30 pm.
There will also be more 2021 Sounds Better Together concerts hosted throughout Victoria this coming week.
But in the meantime, here’s a rundown of Geelong’s 2021 Sounds Better Together.
The evening kicked off with an emotive set from indie singer-songwriter Didirri.
The set began with performances of ‘Strange’ and ‘Blue Mood Rising,’ both cuts from his latest album ‘Sold For Sale.’ The full band brought Didirri’s hits to life, and his strong voice soared.
After moving to the keyboard for a heartbreaking solo performance of ‘Raw Stuff’ Didirri was back on his guitar for ‘Jude,’ giving shoutouts to his band throughout.
Didirri recalled some wise words he was given when explaining the inspiration behind ‘Jude.’
“Find the things that make you happy and don’t get in the way of other people finding the things that make you happy”
The set ended on a high with a memorable performance of ‘Can’t Get Last Night Out Of My Head.’ With the crowd singing along to Didirri’s catchy hook, this was a great track to close on.
Next up was Sydney-based electro-pop artist Gordi. Receiving a big cheer from a crowd, she exclaimed, “Live music looks good on you guys!”
A one-person show, Gordi worked her keyboard, loop pedals, and sample pad with ease.
First was an intimate performance of ‘Can We Work This Out,’ a cut from her debut album ‘Reservoir.’ Gordi’s captivating and dynamic voice was so gripping that you almost forgot that she was alone at the keyboard.
Her sound became otherworldly as she began to use loop pedals and vocal effects, including startling the audience with heavy distortion on the outro of her otherwise mellow track ‘Volcanic.’ Gordi’s mesmerizing use of her loop pedal and autotune for ‘Heaven I Know’ was the absolute highlight of her set, calling to mind Imogen Heap.
Alex Lahey made a surprise appearance for a debut performance of a currently unreleased track with Gordi “about a dive bar in Nashville.” Their voices meshed together perfectly and the love song added a lighter tone to the evening.
Gordi ended on two songs from her latest album, ‘Our Two Skins.’ The closer, ‘Sandwiches,’ featured a haunting and delicate chorus.
TONES AND I
Tones and I is a must-see Aussie act. Her signature vocals are done even more justice live, and her stage presence is incredibly entertaining.
Tones hyped up the crowd the second she walked on stage, dancing to Sofi Tukker’s ‘Purple Hat’ with swagger.
Her set was a mixture of covers and her hits, beginning with a moody cover of OutKast’s ‘Hey Ya.’ Like Gordi, Tones worked her loop pedal and keyboard to create a sound that’s unmistakably hers.
‘Never Seen The Rain’ was up next, and the crowd began to get up and dance, sing and clap along from their chairs.
Tones was a ball of energy, moving around the stage with excitement and punctuating her lyrics with growls for emphasis.
This performance received one of the longest cheers of the night, met with a bowed head and wiping of the eyes from Tones. Presumably, a little emotional returning to the stage after such a tumultuous year for live music.
Tones was in her element covering Flume & Chet Faker’s ‘Drop the Game.’ She sang the legendary humming hook with her unique flavour, making the track her own.
Before shouting out a fan holding a sign dedicated to her, Tones nailed her performance of ‘Bad Child.’ Despite admitting it was the first time she’d played it live, her voice had just as much power as it does on the studio recording.
Her charisma shines through between tracks, including warning kids of her swearing and telling childhood stories before performing ‘Ur So F**kInG cOoL.’
All her slip-ups mid-set, like giggling (and even burping mid belt) all add to her charm and stirs laughs of endearment from the crowd.
She introduces her cover of Youth Group’s ‘Forever Young’ as a song “for the people that bought their children but don’t know any of my music.”
A track she used to play busking, she flips the sentimental track with a lively percussive loop.
Unsurprisingly, ‘Dance Monkey’ got a standing ovation from the eager audience. Closing the set with her latest single ‘Fly Away,’ Tones got all her friends on stage as a celebratory send-off to one of her first live shows of the year.
The last act was Aussie icon Missy Higgins, with the longest set of the night at an hour runtime. Missy played a selection of her latest singles and legendary favourites, each receiving a roar from the audience.
Missy began with an intimate acoustic version of ‘Don’t Ever,’ soon bringing a full band on stage for ‘Secret.’ Her iconic voice was as good as ever and the talented band brought her classics to life.
Before performing ‘The Difference,’ she candidly shared her fear of watching her children grow up in the impacts of climate change, but concluded with an optimistic call to action.
“We all have a little fighter inside of us.”
Whilst the upbeat ‘Futon Couch’ got everyone dancing, a stripped-back performance of her latest single ‘Carry You’ had the crowd hooked on every word.
Missy beamed while playing ‘Arrows,’ a song written for her husband for their wedding day. She was soon joined by Gordi, who handled the second verse of ‘Sound of White’ with ease.
Missy’s eagerness to play live again was clear.
“It’s not the same playing to the back of your phone in your bedroom to faceless people. That’s all I was doing during lockdown.”
However, she reflected on 2020 as “a time to stand still, stop and be in the moment,” before playing her most recent single ‘When the Machine Starts.”
As it was her first time performing the track live, it took her a couple of goes to get right, giggling off each slip-up. There was a strong sense of togetherness when the crowd cheered Missy on once she got it right, and it was a very heartwarming moment.
Of course, Missy finished off the night with her biggest hit ‘Scar,’ with the crowd singing with her.
2021 Sounds Better Together was a great way to kick off the year. Every performance was relaxed and intimate, with the candidness of the artists being a comforting and uniting force as we all navigate live music’s new normal.
21 Sounds Better Together TV Special Event, this Saturday 30 January on the Nine Network at 7.30pm
Tickets and info for all events across Victoria from https://soundsbettertogether.com/
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