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Live Review: Kevin Morby @ The Factory Theatre, Sydney

1 October 2023 | 1:35 pm | Shaun Colnan

While some soulful intimacy was lost from Kevin Morby's gig at the Factory Theatre, the LA-based artist still kept the Sydney audience happy.

Kevin Morby

Kevin Morby (Credit: Katie Crutchfield)

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Texan-born, LA-based Kevin Morby bursts onto the stage with a high-energy, electrified version of his titular track from 2022’s LP, This Is A Photograph, losing some of the twang of the acoustic in exchange for an atmosphere more suited to a Saturday night at the Factory Theatre.

He bounces about the stage, tassels from his black jacket bouncing along with his trademark curls before he drops into A Random Act of Kindness – another track from his 2022 album – a simple building song utilising the anaphora of “Out of…” to showcase a sense of loss before bringing the element of hope from the titular “random act of kindness”. 

Then Morby invites opener Lo Carmen back on stage for a rendition of his track, Bittersweet, TN: a nuanced ode to Tennessee. Again, there’s something taken away from his studio performance in the live show. It lacks the country twang of the banjo and the soulful intimacy. Still, the crowd obliged.

Then comes the catchy, upbeat Rock Bottom, which saw the audience kicked into overdrive with the multitude of hooks like “Bop bop!” and “They’re all gonna laugh at you” with an overall message to forget the scorn of others and be yourself – an easy-to-digest message.

“The last time I was here was in 2020,” Morby reflects. “The month of March. Then the world locked down, and I thought I might never be able to come back.” This was the perfect time to transition to the keys, with Morby sitting down and reflecting further through the meditative track, Five Easy Pieces.

“Now we’re gonna play some old songs,” Morby heralds to much applause. Older tracks like a dedication to Sydney – City Music or “Sydney Music” as he reframes it. Of course, tracks like Harlem River and Beautiful Strangers give the crowd what they came for.

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Earlier, Australian singer-songwriter and actor Lo Carmen took the stage in a solo performance, delivering alt-folk tracks with her characteristic smoky and ethereal voice.