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What Does A DMA'S Show Look Like In The COVID-era? We Went Along To Find Out

31 July 2020 | 11:30 am | Mick Radojkovic

DMA'S made their return to touring last night, kicking off an epic 22 show run at Sydney's Factory Theatre. 'The Music' went along to see the trio and special guest Hayley Mary to find out just what a DMA'S show looks like during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here's what happened...

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Live music - the ability to escape from the daily grind, tune out of the news cycle, forget about the numbers and the stress - it's been sorely missed and at this time, needed more than ever. For artists that have taken the plunge and released music during COVID, it's been a calculated risk. Do you hope that the isolation leads to more listens on your music and then take advantage of live shows when you can, or do you hold off until you can 'tour the album'? This is what touring an album looks like in COVID times; playing 22 sold-out seated shows in Sydney and Brisbane.

Hayley Mary released her fantastic debut solo EP, The Piss, The Perfume, pre-COVID (just), but unfortunately wasn't able to tour it properly. The time of isolation sent her back into the studio with the promise of a full-length release soon, but the opportunity to watch her perform her songs from her debut was a delightful way to return to a live gig. 

She may have been donning a moon boot, but that wasn't going to stop The Jezabels lead singer from captivating a room of seated patrons in The Factory Theatre. Armed with just an acoustic guitar and her iconic voice, she performed tracks from her EP ending with Like A Woman Should and warm appreciation from the full room.

On a minimal stage adorned with a grand piano and lamps, the understated Matt Mason took to the keys and started to play the opening chords of DMA'S set. The feeling was visceral – hearing live music again gave such a strange and almost surreal energy to the room, that it took some time for the band and the audience to react. Soon, he was joined by Jenny McCullagh, of I Know Leopard fame, on violin, Liam Hoskins on drums, Johnny Took on guitar and lead singer Tommy O’Dell as the suitable opening line, “Stop me, hold on”, of Time & Money, echoed out around the theatre.

DMA'S @ Factory Theatre. Photo by Brayden Smith

The third album from the inner west Sydney trio, The Glow, sees them developing their typically guitar driven Mancunian-inspired rock to new dynamic electronic levels, but there's still the heart wrenching pull of songs like Appointment and in particular, Criminals, performed as part of the encore. The stripped back and intimate performance meant that we’d have to wait for the full effect of that new sound for a later date.

When the opening strands of Silver rang out from the acoustic guitar, it was hard to hold back the welling up tears of joy. There's a feeling of warmth in the room - a feeling of togetherness, something that can often feel hard to come by these days. O’Dell's voice is perfectly suited to an acoustic setting, as proved by a gut-wrenching live set in an empty Splendour In The Grass amphitheatre, released last week.

With the crowd baying for more during a short interval, DMA’S returned to play two more tracks and it was all over, way too quickly. A fleeting, but beautiful tease of a return to live music was better than nothing, leaving the crowd hungry for more as we floated out of the theatre after In The Air, row by row – at a reasonable distance.

Just like we sang, earlier in the set, “I can feel the end, you know/Is there something more?” We can only hope so, because watching music performed live is a wonderful, precious thing.

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DMA'S tour continues in Sydney and Brisbane from today. Head to theGuide for all the info.