Live Review: Camp Cope Brought Laughter & Tears To Their Final Show At The Sydney Opera House

14 October 2023 | 10:06 am | Mary Varvaris

Camp Cope performed their final show in the way they always existed: as three friends who happened to make great punk tunes.

Camp Cope

Camp Cope (Credit: Peter Dovgan)

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How do you review a band’s final show? As my fiancé and I walked towards the Sydney Opera House last night (13 October), we wondered: what would Camp Cope’s last show be like? Having seen them live before, we sort of knew what to expect – a no-frills rock show that takes you on an emotional rollercoaster – but nothing could have prepared us for the feelings throughout the room.

After a pre-recorded Welcome To Country, the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall screen changed from the backdrop of Camp Cope 2015-2023 to filmed footage of the first time the trio played at the iconic venue in 2018.

Humorous backstage moments (the Sydney Opera House is “The most beautiful and terrifying venue in the country,” Thomo said), youthful energy and charismatic stage presence went into applause from that recording, to which each band member – vocalist and guitarist Georgia Maq, bassist Kelly-Dawn Helmrich, drummer Sarah “Thomo” Thompson and live guitarist and backing vocalist Jennifer Aslett – walked on to the stage, to near-deafening claps and cheers.

Opening with a rapturous rendition of the beloved Done, we knew we were in for a special night celebrating Camp Cope’s three great albums – the 2016 self-titled LP, 2018’s How To Socialise & Make Friends, and 2022’s Running With The Hurricane.

“It’s our last show,” Maq said at the conclusion of the first song. “Everything good comes to an end. It’s okay; it’s a happy ending. We’re Camp Cope. We rock.” Launching into Blue, we’re pretty sure the more recent number has never sounded so romantic. The treats came fast, as the band played the Camp Cope classic Stove Lighter for the first time since September 2019.

Introducing the next song, an oldie and a goodie, Maq explained to punters bursting into laughter, “When I wrote that song, I was all emo and quiet. Now, good luck shutting me up. The world needs more annoying women – I hope that’s the legacy I leave behind. This is a song about dumb c*nts.” And it’s Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams time, and the lyrics “They'll say ‘Take it as a compliment, they're only being nice,’” and “They say the only thing that stops a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun” have never felt so devastating.

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“Does anyone like the song Wonderwall?” Maq asked the audience, “It’s a great song; I don’t care what anyone says,” she said before picking up an acoustic guitar and getting into The Mountain. While we were all peacefully swaying during The Screaming Planet, Maq introduced Julia Jacklin, who joined the band on stage for some stunning harmonies. Jacklin would come back later for another pleasant surprise. Then, Thomo absolutely slays the drums on Caroline.

It was a great balance of newer and older songs, with Camp Cope playing the “emo song” Lost (Season One) and Maq’s “Favourite song we’ve ever written as a band” (Anna). Joking that the band were breaking up because Maq was sick of playing the guitar (“Fuck it, I’m getting nails”), she was pretty damn honest when she said, “We’re never going to be like John Farnham or Elton John or KISS [and play reunion shows]. We’ve never lied to you. We have too much respect for you.”

“This song helped me realise my self-worth,” Maq introduced the ode to self-growth, Keep Growing. The night continued to be “A really beautiful celebration of a good eight years we’ve had,” with the singer quipping, “Three albums is all a band should have”, and “I wrote this song about a dog” for Jealous. As we drew closer to the night's end, Maq asked everyone in the audience to throw up two fingers and told us there were only two songs to go.

Bringing out family members for Sing Your Heart Out, “You can change, and so can I”, became a rallying call, with every person in the room believing every word.

Then, Maq sat at the piano and started playing The Opener solo, getting into the fabled ten-minute version of the classic tune she teased on Instagram this week. Adding extra, utterly heartbreaking verses, Kelly, Thomo, Jenny, Julia Jacklin and their good mate Rin McArdle came on stage and reprised the OG version of The Opener. It was cathartic, empowering and joyous as every fan in the room screamed the lyrics back: “Yeah, tell me again how there just aren't that many girls in the music scene” and “SHOW ‘EM, KELLY!

Camp Cope performed their final show in the way they always existed: unpretentious, no egos, no encores, a little bit cheeky, unafraid to challenge the status quo, without histrionics and pyro, and completely authentic to who they always were: three friends who happened to make great punk tunes.

There will never be another band like Camp Cope, but there’s no doubt that other powerful acts in the Australian music scene, whether it’s Teenage Joans or Rin McArdle, are ready to carry on their legacy.

Camp Cope at the Sydney Opera House setlist:



Stove Lighter

Jet Fuel Can't Melt Steel Beams

The Mountain

The Screaming Planet (with Julia Jacklin)


Lost (Season One)


How to Socialise & Make Friends

Keep Growing


Sing Your Heart Out (Joined by family choir)

Running With the Hurricane

The Opener (Extended version with new verses, joined by Julia Jacklin and Rin McArdle on guitar)