Live Review: Laura Imbruglia, The Stress Of Leisure, Melodie Nelson

10 July 2013 | 10:58 am | Brodie Murdoch

Imbruglia switches to electric guitar for super-catchy single, Awoooh!, which leads into When It Falls Apart (And It Will) and the hilariously caustic You’re A Parasitic Germ.

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Melodie Nelson is the solo moniker of Sydney musician Lia Tsamoglou, and she professes excitement at playing her first ever Brisbane show, starting out solo with her electric guitar and an array of pedals, her haunting voice dominating proceedings early. Hurt Me So marries downcast country lyrics with relatively upbeat music, while murder ballad, Martha, is languid and stretching. Her usual bassist Kell Derrig-Hall joins the fray and adds his rich voice to 666, making it akin to Low or Smog at their most despondent, and he stays for To The Dollhouse and the slightly less self-flagellating Bovine Blues. A downbeat but intriguing opening to tonight's card.

Next up are locals The Stress Of Leisure, who are really finding a strong groove with their new rhythm section of Phil Usher (drums) and the ever-stoic Jane Elliott (bass), starting with the acerbic Theme Song For Fitness, then throwing in the bombastic Work It Out and the rocking Shark Killer, all from recent fourth album, Cassowary. Frontman Ian Powne is in dominant form, luxuriating in the frenetic chops of the brand new, garish, self-referencing, post-punk stomper, White Funk, which segues into another new track, the synth-heavy Olivia, which is clearly owned by keys dominatrix Pascalle Burton. The sleazily sultry Sex Time reintroduces familiarity to proceedings, Hot Fire! following and leading into another powerful new track, Professional Woman – all scathing social commentary balmed with cool music to make the medicine go down – before Scuba Dive Honeymoon Hell offers a fittingly propulsive finale to a great set.

Finally cowboy shirt-clad, Sydney-bred, Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Laura Imbruglia enters the fray toting her acoustic guitar, kicking off with the moving Wouldn't Be Surprised and following quickly with It's Getting Worse, a slightly mordant number that is saved from utter desolation by an upbeat rhythm and a sprightly melody that combine for a rather soothing effect. New track, Harsh Dylan Songs – from the album, What A Treat, which is being launched tonight – translates well to the solo domain, Imbruglia usually playing these songs with her band (“You'll need lots of imagination tonight,” she smiles at one point). Drinking anthem, Straight To The Bar, segues fittingly into The Intervention, which finds the songstress joined by The Gin Club's Scott Regan for some vocal assistance.

Imbruglia switches to electric guitar for super-catchy single, Awoooh!, which leads into When It Falls Apart (And It Will) and the hilariously caustic You're A Parasitic Germ. Her voice seems to have become noticeably stronger in recent times and it adds a formidable heft to these songs, The Hardest Part sounding fantastic before fellow Gin Clubber Ben Salter makes an appearance on tambourine and backing vocals for the country-tinged Limerence. If I Ever finishes off the set but the crowd – which involves a strong family component – demands a return, Imbruglia offering, “I'm going to play one that makes you feel weird and that's it,” before staying true to her word and banging out the lysergic and fractured early number, Looking For A Rabbit, to complete a resolutely entertaining evening.

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