Odette didn’t let the lack of a live audience take the shine off a radiant, live-streamed performance in Parramatta on Sunday (6 September).
So, this is what the new normal looks like.
The lights come up on Odette in the Riverside Theatre, all cotton-candy curls and school-girl checks, a Cabbage Patch doll dressed like Brittany Murphy’s ‘Clueless’ character, poised centre-stage behind her synth, as the YouTube link to livestream her performance blinks into action.
There’s no milling about the bar or elbowing a path to the front before the gig starts. As an alternative, the digital audience congregates online in a chatroom heroically hosted by the venue.
We lose the support act in this novel set-up. Instead, accompanied by her unmasked but socially distanced band comprising a drummer and a second synth-player, Odette launches straight into her biggest hit, 2018’s ‘Take It To The Heart’ from her only album to date ‘To A Stranger’. The crowd go wild in the sidebar chat.
She continues with last year’s ‘Lights Out’ before finally greeting us ‘Internet people’. By her own admission, it’s her first concert in a long time, but there’s no hint of nerves or rustiness.
Odette has a beguiling charisma and she chides herself for cracking jokes "before playing very serious songs". A cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rhiannon’ is a delight, but then ‘Rhiannon’ could be covered by Peruvian pan pipers and still be a delight.
It is her new material that earmarks Odette as a talent to watch. Though she’s known for the spoken-word verbosity that characterises her early songs like ‘Lotus Eaters’, the tracks Odette debuts tonight, particularly ‘I Miss You, I’m Sorry’ are notable for their melodic innovation.
Beyond that, the new material gives her a chance to showcase an impressive and well-controlled vocal range that the earlier ‘talkies’ don’t.
At least in this brave new world, we’re spared the tyranny of the contrived encore. After a taut hour that’s surely included all this early-stage-career artist’s work, the set concludes with the triumphant and hopeful (aurally, if not lyrically) ‘A Place That I Don’t Know’.
The credits roll. The link goes dead. I’m left oddly bereft, googling videos of Peruvian pan pipers covering Fleetwood Mac.