Though she toured with Sam Smith and hit up a few Australian festivals along the way, it has been a few years since we last saw Brisbane’s Emma Louise on a headline tour around the country. Friday night’s show at Sydney’s Metro Theatre saw the artist – who is on the road celebrating the release of the brilliant record Supercry – start to wind down from a run of shows that’s seen her traverse the country over the last month. It is her final show until a special encore performance in Melbourne on November 18th officially brings the tour to a conclusion.
Supercry is the most stunning work of Emma’s career to date, traversing understated beauty with pop grandeur in a way that few artists – from Australia or otherwise – are able to achieve. Her live show, as such, traversed similar musical plains, moving through the new record and her back catalogue as she alternated between a stripped back solo performance and the accompaniment of her four piece band. For some songs, she even had two dancers, adding to the theatrical quality of her music and providing an extra layer to the overall performance.
The set opened with both dancers and Emma arriving on stage, accompanied by no musicians – just her voice and a backing track. “I Thought I Was a Ship” off her new record opened things up; my favourite song off the new record and an incredibly well produced piece that starts out still, in black and white, and explodes into technicolour. It proved a perfect way to open the night.
“Talk Baby Talk” brought her four piece band into the fold, and they sounded excellent through the whole night, as they continued to deliver carefully crafted tracks off the new LP. “Shut The Door” and “Underflow” saw the dancers return, while “Nowhere” saw her briefly forget the lyrics – humorously requesting Tim to perform an impromptu guitar solo in their place.
“Boy” took us back a few years, as did “Jungle”, while “Illuminate” closed out the main set. An encore of “1000 Sundowns”, which took us back to the beginning of Emma’s career, saw her say goodnight solo on the guitar. It also gave her the opportunity to tell us the story behind the song, something that she did sparingly throughout the set, but with great effect when she did.
Elsewhere in the night, “West End Kids” was a highlight, also featuring the artist on her guitar, and a stunning cover of Nick Cave‘s “Into My Arms” brought her to the keys. Not an easy song to do – but she delivered it with grace. Beyond the splendour in the music, the production of the show itself was fantastic, with great lighting, excellent sound and wonderful use of the stage – especially given the amount of space the dancers sometimes needed to occupy.
Our night out with Emma Louise was one of beauty, and proved that in spite of her time away from the road, this is an artist who sits at the top of her game both as a songstress (taking out the runner’s up prize in the Vanda and Young Songwriting Competition in recent weeks) and as a performer.
Emma Louise concludes her Supercry Australian tour at the Corner Hotel in Melbourne on November 18th, supported by Fractures.
The reviewer attended Emma Louise’s performance at the Metro Theatre in Sydney on Friday, November 4th. Photo by Andrew Wade from Splendour in the Grass 2016.