Jess O'Callaghan went to see the rebirth of Missy Higgins in Melbourne:
Going to any sort of comeback tour, no matter who the artist is, can be a little bit terrifying. As someone who gets attached to songs pretty fervently, even going to a tour where the artist has more than one lovable album can cause mild anxiety. Clearly some of your favourite songs aren’t going to make it onto the set list. And which ones will get cut? Terrifying.
Considering she has two very well known albums chock full of sing-along-able songs and a fanbase made ravenous by five years without a new release, Missy Higgins navigated the evening remarkably well.
On the 16th of June she performed at Her Majesty's Theatre in Melbourne, which was a far stretch from the first time I saw her perform with a piano and an acoustic guitar at the Tamworth Country Music Festival. For one, no one in the audience was wearing cowboy hats.
Another big difference was the band behind her - the cello/trumpet/everything player, the American drummer’s accent jokes, and Butterfly Boucher. Boucher blew everyone away as the opening Special Guest and then stayed on to play guitar and sing. She co-produced the recently released The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle album in Nashville with Brad Jones.
While the production of a Missy Higgins’ gig has become slicker and prettier, you still had the sense that you could have been sitting around with a group of friends, yelling ‘play one more!’ as the night grew older. While she didn’t try to hit every heckler's request (“Play Sound of White!” “That would be a downer right now”) she didn’t pointedly avoid them like some jerk artists with popular old songs do. Listening to Scar performed live is still immensely satisfying, and she knows it.
Then there are the songs on The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle which were just so much better live. The sounds and rhythms in Watering Hole went way over my head listening to the track, but hearing the commotion performed live made a lot more sense. Animal sounds and stomping and calling her brother, Dave, back on stage to make noises. Dave also made an appearance when the pair performed Cooling of the Embers, a beautiful song about their grandmother growing old.
The coverage of Higgins’ return to making music has focused on her ‘writer's block’. The struggle with the idea that she might never make music again. She spoke about it briefly and unavoidably before performing the beautiful Everyone’s Waiting on the piano.
I guess the sold-out shows and the excitement of the audience prove that everyone was waiting. At one point she even managed to convince us all to applaude with animal noises. Judging by the sound of Her Majesty’s Theatre filled with snorts, moos and neighs, they’re very glad she’s back.
Review by Jess O'Callaghan. Photo courtesy of the official Missy Higgins website.