Live Review: Emma Louise, Argentina, Steve Grady

13 July 2012 | 2:21 pm | Benny Doyle

More Emma Louise More Emma Louise

Following the last minute withdrawal of Tom Iansek from Big Scary in his Dads guise, local lad Steve Grady acts as the late mail, warming the seat more than ably with his rustic and raw odes. Opening with Blue River, Grady's voice majestically fills the long room, his delivery reminiscent of a young James Taylor, but with a slightly more complicated soul. There is just something homely and instantly likeable about the Brisbane troubadour, and his echo through the Lodge is a pleasure to hold an early ear to.

Unassuming four-piece Argentina waste no time in grabbing the attention of the swelling crowd, their refreshing hits of bold indie pop breaking up the evening nicely. With the drum kit tucked snugly in the back corner behind bassist Lauren Moore, the centre stage is given to Alex Ritchie, the voice and soul behind the Argentina moniker. He darts between the microphone and skins with focused intent, adding extra percussive rhythms within his high-end vocals. It's a compelling set – hypnotic and full of emotion – and the wistful closing tracks of Bad Kids and Chalk Outlines round out the slot gorgeously.

Then just to cap off a night of precocious young talent, Emma Louise wows the sold-out crowd, getting bums off the ground early, even if she does have to politely ask them to do so. Immediately, her harmonising with kindred spirit Hannah Shepherd is captivating, while Daniel Ogilvie's drumming directs not only the tempo, but also the intensity within each track, allowing Louise's songs to show various shades of drama and fragility. Lanky multi-instrumentalist Graham Ritchie is also vital to the makeup of the set, his synth work adding layers to latest single Boy and Cages also, the latter another exciting new number that under a current of electronic triggers and keys recalls Bjork's Hyperballad. Louise, meanwhile, humbly occupies the middle, leading by example as opposed to attitude. And what the diminutive singer lacks in stature she certainly makes up for in sound. Without any visible strain, her voice engulfs the whole space. And with constant banter in between songs, she immediately makes the room feel smaller and more intimate than it already is; it's almost like watching a good friend as opposed to one of the country's most exciting young musical prospects. The set has been so fantastic, in fact, that you almost forget she still hasn't dropped her ace card Jungle. And yes, when she does, it still sounds as vital and unique as ever. But now, as she grows as a songwriter, it's simply a part of the Queenslander's impressive live arsenal as opposed to the main drawcard.