Live Review: Joe McKee, Melodie Nelson, Heartswin

20 August 2012 | 12:47 pm | Adam Wilding

The organisers of the night could be onto something in terms of having gigs in venues where acoustics do not require a sophisticated sound system and the audience do not require alcohol, the latter element being replaced with a delicious Chai tea station on the night.

Heartswin claim they have been brought out of hibernation, but perhaps it is the mild anxiety of having to play in a space normally reserved for sermons that causes some not-so-noticeable hiccups. Even so, the set is quaint and the band looks to be enjoying themselves, along with those gathered.

If ever there was an artist born to play in a space with innate acoustics, it's Melodie Nelson, fresh off the back of a support show with one Father John Misty. Filling some of the void left by bands such as Mazzy Star and Throwing Muses and sounding somewhat influenced by The Crayon Fields, the Nelsons explore the space aurally with their layered, lo-fi dream pop. There's a delicate sleepiness to their set, particularly on songs Meditations On The Sun, Colour Of My Dreams and Tonight, which are all executed with a reverence befitting a Thursday night sermon.

If ever there was a man born to play in a space with innate acoustics and an altar, that man is West Australian ex-Snowman singer/guitarist - and ballroom dancer - Joe McKee. His venture into solo land earlier this year culminated in the fine debut album that not only demonstrated his already acknowledged songwriting ability, but also his adept vocal range. All is on offer tonight and, using a crude set-up relying on the open space as much as his vocal capability, Mr McKee looks very much at home up there. His swooning, often darkly atmospheric pieces make for some haunting and beautiful moments and such is the case with the songs Burning Boy, Darling Hills and the audience-requested An Open Mine. He also isn't afraid to engage the audience and he does just that, offering an over-enthusiastic gentleman a chance to get intimate via a two-man waltz, to the outro looping of what sounds like Lunar Sea. Ending the night's service from the altar, it is a superb performance and unfortunately the last time audiences will have the chance to catch him before he makes his way back to London.

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