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Illy @ Woolly Mammoth Review

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Melbourne hip hop artist Illy’s show at Woolly Mammoth (15 November) was always going to be a night of firsts.

The first of three sold-out album release launch shows for his fifth studio album, ‘Two Degrees’, the Brisbane show would be the first time that the thirteen track album would be performed live, track by track, front to back.

Click here for photos.

There were, however, other coincidental, unorchestrated firsts celebrated throughout the night. The first was Illy announcing that ‘Two Degrees’ was sitting at number one on the iTunes chart after less than a week of being released, a fact that ramped up the already pumped crowd. The second was an Illy show being stalled by a marriage proposal (congratulations Peter and Jenna).

Illy proposal
Wedding proposal at Illy - image © Tamaryn Bremner

Like all good MCs, Illy set the scene for the night, telling the crowd that the main set would be the album, followed by past tracks for the encore. Like all good storytellers, Illy gave the audience glimpses into the making of the tracks. And like all good stories, there was a perfect blend of light and shade.

Acknowledging the small feat of selling out a show on a school night, Illy thumbed his nose at his critics, dedicating the chilled sounds of ‘Looks Could Kill’ to all the naysayers who have said he couldn’t do this and couldn’t do that. ‘Oh My’ – the next single scheduled for release – was described as a song that first took form in January/ February of this year but stalled until Jenna McDougall – lead vocalist of the pop-punk band Tonight Alive – lent her powerhouse vocals.

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Image © Tamaryn Bremner

‘Catch 22’, the second single from the album featuring British singer/ songwriter Anne Marie, was revealed as Illy’s earliest demo created two years ago. Cementing the notion that sleeper tracks can be revived through collaborations with female vocalists, Illy announced that the track had been certified gold that very morning.

A departure from the feel good vibes of ‘Lightshow’ and ‘Extra Extra’ was the darker, more rap heavy ‘Truce’ introduced as a song about the dangers of torturing yourself and the need to treat yourself properly.

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Image © Tamaryn Bremner

The last song of the official set, the melodic ‘Highway’ was written in LA during the first recording session of the album in what Illy described as a deliberate shift from the Oz mentality of hip hop. The track perfectly sums up the different direction Illy has taken with this album, blending hip hop, pop and reggae sounds.

As promised, the encore featured past hits with the first track being ‘On & On’ from Illy’s fourth album ‘Cinematic’ which had the crowd bouncing and clapping along to the beat in unison.


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Image © Tamaryn Bremner

Thanking Triple J for featuring ‘Two Degrees’ as their feature album on the week of its release, Illy next launched into his crowd pleasing 2013 Like A Version medley featuring Silverchair’s 'Tomorrow', Hilltop Hoods’ 'Nose Bleed Section', Paul Kelly’s 'To Her Door' and Flume’s 'On Top'.

Declaring the next track as the most favourite remix he’s ever done, Illy treated the crowd to his and Nic Martin’s reworking of Peking Duk’s ‘High’ from the Illy Friday Flips series. Smash hit ‘Tightrope’ followed before track six of ‘Two Degrees’, ‘Papercuts’, was played in its full, glorious entirety after a brief teaser of the track during the main set.

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Image © Tamaryn Bremner

Like all good concerts, this one finished on a high. Like all good performers, Illy gave it his all, even if the sweat that he hoped would travel the full length of his t-shirt never quite reached the hem.

Click here for photos.
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