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Live Review: Didirri, Ro, Kat Edwards

2 September 2019 | 12:23 pm | Nick Gray

"Even as the stages and songs grow bigger the roots of his project remain intact."

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Tasmanian artist Kat Edwards is a neat fit for tonight's bill at 170 Russell; she explores similar emotional avenues to our headliner. She's backed tonight by a dusty but tight rhythm section that hit all the right peaks and troughs. 2019 single Good Girl is an obvious highlight, summarising the breadth of her output to date. Edwards' performance seems airtight tonight and it's quickly apparent, as a video crane stretches out over the crowd, this is going to be a special gig.

Ro’s performance seems very much still like a work in progress, a bit like trying on different outfits to see which one flatters best. Her songwriting and vocal abilities are surefooted and confident, but a sense of disingenuousness colours the majority of her half-hour set. The more tender moments when her rock-heavy band step off stage and she lets her guard down are the stronger points. Her 2018 single F**ked Up Over You is a standout, purely on the strength of songwriting. 

Dressed in black, Melbourne singer-songwriter Didirri proves tonight that even as the stages he plays and his songs grow bigger the roots of his project remain intact. An extended intro passes wistfully into second song Bird Sounds, off his 2018 EP Measurements, performed with the grace and introspection Australian audiences have grown to love. He's backed tonight by a band that don't steal focus, and the performance is all the better for it.  

"This one's for all of your exes,” Didirri quips as he strums and segues gently into 2017 single Blind You. In moments of silence, of which there are a few, the bar is so quiet you can hear the air-conditioner units humming above. Melancholy and sadness pass through these songs, each one ushering in a new illumination on the passing of time, trauma and healing. It's these confessional moments that cut a little deeper, and that reveal Didirri as an artist interested not in glorifying sadness but dragging redemption from its gnarled grasp.

Formaldehyde gets a stripped-back Nord keys rendition which is heartbreaking – the whole set feels like a campfire confessional or therapy session. Ro is invited back on stage for their collaborative single Tea Stains, which is lovingly performed. Jude is a clear crowd favourite and the night ends on a well-deserved high with I Can’t Get Last Night Out Of My Head. The band enjoys an extended outro vamp as Didirri steps off stage and hugs everyone in the front row, and returns one final time to sing some words from Jude with just the crowd. There's a feeling of catharsis and quiet optimism in the room, as the crowd is littered by biodegradable confetti when our performers bow together at show's end.