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Live Review: Angie McMahon @ The Metro Theatre, Sydney

28 September 2023 | 2:05 pm | Shaun Colnan

Angie McMahon’s talent is undeniable and must be seen if you get the chance.

Angie McMahon

Angie McMahon (Credit: Taylor Ranston)

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Angie McMahon’s live performance has a ferocity and raw energy that augments what’s heard on her studio recordings. Seeing her in the flesh, it’s more than understandable why the Naarm/Melbourne-based musician sold out two shows for her first live performances in a long time.

“It’s funny playing shows after not playing for so long,” McMahon reflected. “Things that were normal become really strange and awkward... like the space between songs.” Still, other than the ‘awkward’ pauses (which allowed for the humble and candid back-and-forth with the audience), the band’s performance was really tight – a tremendous feat, given this was their first live show as a five-piece.

Tantalised by a long wait in between acts and the delay tactic of music over the loudspeaker as McMahon cleared the cobwebs, Fireball Whiskey got the crowd excited, evidenced by their raucous singalong of the song’s titular hook.

In many ways, this was not a set to look to past successes but to signpost the future: McMahon’s upcoming and much-anticipated LP, Light, Dark, Light Again – out October 27 of this year – detailing Covid-era Angie, depression and connections to nature among other themes. 

This was apparent on new tracks like Saturn Returning – a meditative and lilting folk song utilising diegetic sounds of running water, Fish – a tentative and quirky love song, and Mother Nature, an eco-philosophical experiment in natural empathy, asking, “What would Mother Nature feel like about all the stuff we’ve done… so, it’s an angry song.”

McMahon expressed her gratitude constantly – for the crowd and for her backing band: “Not a bad group of friends, saving my arse.” Then she dove into the crowd favourite and breakthrough track, Slow Mover, an infectious and well-crafted expression of uncertainty and taking time.

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On her recent single release, Letting Go, the audience joined in, unprompted, on the refrain, “Make mistakes… it’s okay…” in a triumphant and life-affirming moment which McMahon acknowledged, saying, “Thank you for getting around the song and making us feel like we could do this.”

 She even managed to smash out her grungier, kick-arse triple j Like A Version cover of ABBA’s Knowing Me, Knowing You, which had the crowd shouting back, “Ah ha…” McMahon’s talent is undeniable and must be seen if you get the chance.

Alice Skye clearly had a big and spirited following as she entreated the crowd: “I feel like I should ask you what song I should play because you’ve been so nice to me.” Someone yelled out: “Party Tricks”, to which the Wergaia/Wemba Wemba woman said: “I’ll play that one last.”

The stripped-back set – just the musician and her keyboard – provided an intimate feeling as if we were witnessing Skye in her bedroom ripping into covers of Tegan and Sara’s Nineteen and blending The Cranberries’ Zombie with her aforementioned closing track. The affected Australian accent and saccharine delivery felt a little jarring but were well-received by an attuned audience.