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Live Review: Adalita, Ali E

17 March 2015 | 11:23 am | Holly Keys

Adalita delivers a charismatic and hypnotic performance.

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For the second week of Adalita’s Gasometer residency, Melbourne-based post-punk act Ali E opens with distorted guitars and textured vocals.

She sounds a bit like Patti Smith or a more melodic Sonic Youth and makes the perfect precursor to our headliner. Then out comes Adalita, who says she is surprised to see so many people show up on a Wednesday before playing Hot Air, the first track off her self-titled 2011 LP. A somewhat terrifying black panther statue and vase of dark-red roses decorate the stage. The intimate venue and thick guitar sound create an immersive atmosphere and the crowd is quiet, transfixed on the singer.

Adalita has to tune her guitar, telling the audience one must have nerves of steel to do so onstage, and it’s not working for her. She soon gets it right and plays My Ego, a heavier track that amps us up and has people swaying. She has a personable stage presence and manages to draw us in without having to engage in too much chitchat; instead, she relies on the music and occasional one-liner. When Adalita’s songs are moody, we feel sombre, but then she smiles and everyone lightens up, and we alternate between these two states throughout the course of the night. Adalita then plays a new song called Guilt Free, telling us the inspiration for this track is not feeling bad about inappropriate love. The song goes over well and she talks about writing for a new album before jumping into another new track, Private. She identifies friends in the audience via shout-outs between songs. The screen on the venue’s left wall plays Creature From The Black Lagoon, which Adalita says is one of her favourite movies before comparing herself to the film’s ‘misunderstood’ creature.

While playing Perfection, Adalita is hypnotic, lit from above and dressed in black. She is joined on stage by a violinist who adds a subtle-but-vital layer to this track. Next comes Trust Is Rust and Adalita plus violinist are joined by a guitarist that Adalita points out is a “tall fella”. The sound becomes more layered now and brings to mind Rowland S Howard. All three musicians have a friendly chemistry as if they’ve known each other forever. Adalita then professes her love for Chrissy Amphlett before covering Divinyls’ I’m Jealous, paying tribute while also adding her own spin. The night ends with the bouncy Blue Sky. Adalita’s skillful songwriting and engaging stage presence mean we don’t even secretly wish to hear Dirty Jeans (from her former life fronting Magic Dirt).