Review: Damien Johnson @ Lefty's Music Hall (Brisbane)

Damien Johnson played Lefty's Music Hall (Brisbane) 13 May, 2021. Damien Johnson played Lefty's Music Hall (Brisbane) 13 May, 2021. Image © Clea-marie Thorne

There's some meat to it, and I don't just say that because Damien Johnson is shirtless on stage in a former 'pound of flesh peddling' kind of establishment.

It's a Thursday night (13 May) at Lefty's Music Hall in Brisbane, the night before the Ipswich Show long weekend (relevant because the leading lad is a current resident and it was part of his marketing propaganda).

Opening act, Acekays have sweet sibling vibes along the lines of someone else we’ve all heard of by now (cough! Billie Eilish) and got a great response from the crowd as the first warmer-upperers.

Acekays
Acekays - image © Clea-marie Thorne

DANII's on stage with a bejewelled headpiece that's causing a little trouble. "It was a fashion choice until it was a mistake." We all gain a little more appreciation for the burdens Lady Gaga must bear in that moment as we gaze at this sweet, little pop entity.

It's a tough thing, to perform with complete commitment – conviction, even. DANII does a solid job at it, complete with dance moves and some great vocal fortitude. We get a special treat of new material from her yet to be announced forthcoming EP.

DANII
DANII - image © Clea-marie Thorne

Damien volatilises like a noble gas onto the stage. A noble gas with an incendiary message, summoning us to be people of love and justice, and to bless the souls of our enemies in 'Power', one of his single releases from 2020.

He's jumping around on stage behind his toolkit (not a euphemism) and invoking both the participation and acknowledgement of the crowd. You can't fault his enthusiasm – that's the kind of bloke he is.

Damien Johnson.3
Damien Johnson - image © Clea-marie Thorne

One particular track, 'The Valley', is an expertly crafted song of puns and double entendres with a serious heart.

More photos from the show.

It showcases many of the goings on you can find in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley. "The masses are dancing to the machines, while original bands are playin' for free," he coos.

The track continues, highlighting other more traditional injustices with clever wordplay over a casually upbeat pace that acts to throw the same blanket of disregard over such plights as each of us who walk past these things daily.

Damien Johnson.2
Damien Johnson - image © Clea-marie Thorne

"Coffee over-priced to a tee" has the aroma of a tasty pun to me, and nestles neatly in a hand right beside a Keep Cup and a coarsely distilled "nah, I don't carry cash, mate" response ready for dispersal to an empty hand behind a simple question.

I'm not sure what kind of experiment Damien Johnson is actually conducting on us, with his simple and darkly chirpy electro happy meals, but it's probably fair to say we're all rats that don't even know it. The Matrix keeps most of us pretty warm at night, though.

To those reading this, and those out there pounding pavements to create or to create change: bless your soul.

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