Review: george @ Brisbane Powerhouse

george played Brisbane Powerhouse 6 May, 2021. george played Brisbane Powerhouse 6 May, 2021.

george are still like nothing else.

Katie Noonan tells us how good it is to be back at Brisbane Powerhouse (6 May) – and that they were the first band to play here, 21 years ago.

Fuse your jazz with a sprig of peppermint, rosemary and socio-environmental concern thanks.

Opening act, Deline Briscoe is a force of nature. A whispering breeze, a fierce storm, a reassuring heartbeat. What a treasure to witness, hear the stories, feel the language.

Airileke (from Papua New Guinea and the Torres Strait) on percussion pieces dramatically emphasised the vibrancy of this communication. The whole room is probably feeling their 'Heartbeat' a little more right now.

The crowd do look like they were the indie-punk rockers 20 years ago. I mean, how many refined jazz aficionados would have been into something so mainstream? Isn't that the stuff of clowns? Yes.

"Goldie?!" Katie exclaims, looking at the front row, announcing him as their biggest groupie. Fully above board, of course – he's a children's entertainer and all (he's a clown).

Turns out the Noonan's grandfather, Tommy Noonan, was known as The Singing Clown – so multi-pronged are the connections of this tiny, tiny world.

Although 25 years later, the george you'll witness today will in some ways be a repackaging of the material, this is also – nature.

Voices, meanings, intentions, interpretations all grow and soften, stiffen and crease, wander sideways a little. It remains an absolute thrill, just in a slightly new way.

Tyrone introduces 'Breaking It Slowly' as a song he wrote a long time ago, for the environment. Still relevant. . . is that also the nature of things?

Katie's song 'Truth' – about knowing real love for the first time (and for the 22 years since) – has a particularly striking line I hadn't noticed until this moment: "part of another whole that halved", and I won't mention John Mayer here, I'll just continue to imagine what halved whole I could potentially be a part of.

That final vocal note, in that song – "pain" – is a life-affirming moment. A real tasty treat for lovers of gentle discord. Mmm!

Read our recent interview with Tyrone.

'Bastard Son' has proved a helpful song for many people. Tyrone describes his gratefulness of having the song go through him to do so, as an advocate for mental health in the music industry and participant in the Roady 4 Roadies movement.

george play the whole album, 'Polyserena', in order from start to end. It's the first time I've realised the tracks go one-for-one alternating between Tyrone and Katie on lead vocals, as they swap from keyboard to centre stage each time.

"Thank you for giving our notes a home," Katie says. "It's very special."

She explains the use of a little lyric printout for a couple of tracks, including 'Strange Days', because they've not played it live before, and Katie wrote it with poet Martin Challis, so the words were not all hers. Martin also wrote a few songs with the band including 'Bastard Son' and other early tracks 'The Love I Find' and 'To The Void'.

Yes – to the whispering in 'Strange Days'. Again: those vocal effects. 'Chemical Dreams' might also be a song they hadn't performed live in public before, even though it's been one of their personal favourites. They nail it.

The live vocal effects used in the show reveal themselves as crucial elements to the ride – there are voices, there are exceptional voices, and then there's using the voice as a tool, with or without technology.

A band loaded with highly trained musicians, performers and producers brings many layers of wares to share. Seeing this once is probably not enough. Good thing there's talk of a tour next year.

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