"Manfredi's confidence on stage is almost alarming."
Melbourne singer-songwriter Jen Cloher offered up a hearty serve of honest rock at Adelaide's Beer & BBQ festival on Friday night. Cloher's tunes, with their heavy bass lines, carried through the air beautifully. With each song, it was almost as though she held out her hand to beckon us for a musical journey; flavours from icons like Iggy & The Stooges (for the grit) and Dave Graney (for the storytelling) wafted through her setlist. Finishing her set with Strong Woman, a punchy track that showcased the versatility of her voice, Cloher could easily be an official advocate for rock'n'roll.
The Preatures' frontwoman Isabella "Izzi" Manfredi ran out on stage sporting a tracksuit-looking jacket and opened the set with Girlhood — the title track from their second album. She ditched the jacket to reveal a short, angelic white dress for the rest of the gig. When the rain set in, the crowd became divided to stay protected by the wet weather cover. Manfredi's confidence on stage is almost alarming; her voice was in good form and while singing she mostly had a preference for standing still and engaging the crowd with her gaze.
The band's sound is a feel-good infusion of rock, pop and soul, and was a great fit for the receptive crowd. Better Than It Ever Could Be was a hard-hitting treat live, and it was clear that Is This How You Feel? (which won them the Vanda & Young songwriting award) was a favourite. The band also threw in crowd-pleasing anthem Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again by The Angels.
By this time, the rain had gone into sideways mode and the crowd packed even closer together. Manfredi kept the stage talk brief — mentioning which BBQ food she ate until she felt sick with "no regrets", and also that the band wanted to make it up to the Adelaide crowd because they weren't proud of the last gig they'd performed in our town. The set ended with Yanada — which translates to Moon in Darug, one of Sydney's First Nations language groups — and Manfredi explained that the song took two years to write. Although the gig felt more like a warm-up show, the crowd seemed more than satisfied; Adelaide is one of 40 locations that the band will entertain on their current Australian tour.
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