Live Review: Blanche DuBois, Echo & The Empress

19 June 2012 | 2:35 pm | Sam Hobson

It's nearly an all-girls night, tonight. Echo & The Empress are up first, and they appear to have brought with them a small legion of happily inebriated fans, who're uninhibited enough to make a proper go at dancing through the band's entire set. Echo is three ladies – one on keys, one on tambourine, and one on guitar – and they've a distinctive pop sensibility, though, perhaps unaware or wanting to distance themselves from that, it's packaged as indie. Set The Boys On Fire begins the evening; a blues-folk track with some light country stylings. The great Oh Darlin' follows that, a ballad whose piano line cuts a swift path to the song's key emotion; one that doesn't stretch its familiarity much, but it also doesn't particularly need to. The girls then cover Tegan & Sara's The Con, which, though sounding very much like a 'fan' cover (as opposed to something repurposed through the channels of the girls' musical sensibilities), has some wonderful lower-register singing. Tracey Chapman's Talkin' Bout A Revolution follows that, remarkably sounding nothing like the '90s, before Devil In Me – a more complex track that seems constructed in the service of its story, which is nice – rolls through into The Wolves.

In a blink, the stage is reshuffled for the Perth female two-piece Blanche Dubois and their band. Dense, textural, and emotive orchestration immediately stands-out of their first track, and they've a sound that's sultry, but also sad: steeped in heart, but too, a hurt. Hell, a song written while its scribe was going through “a man-hater stage”, also carries that similar, wisened feel. They've a very 'full-bodied' approach to musical expression, Blanch Dubois; it's strikingly realised, and deeply felt. Each instrument's part – and there are many – is forceful, and forward in the bigger performance; each as vital, and unique as the other. Sadly, Echo's fans have decided largely to ignore Dubois, and chatter rises considerably, drowning out most of the finer details of what's going on, onstage. Forget-me-not, next, is a hushed and breathy track, which slinks softly into the comforting melody of Sweet Song. At last, the floor finally clears, and there's just a few of us left. Time & Time Again, towards their set's close, boasts a particularly strong vocal, and some beautiful, reflective verses. Dubois' strengths, though largely unappreciated tonight, are fuelled by a tangible soulfulness that insists on facing you, head on.