Live Review: Missy Higgins @ Palais Theatre, Melbourne

6 May 2024 | 3:10 pm | Michael Prebeg

Fans get up close and personal with Missy Higgins for a special two-show act of unreleased rarities and a 20th anniversary celebration of her debut album, ‘The Sound Of White’.

Missy Higgins

Missy Higgins (Credit: Renee Coster)

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Tonight is the 20th anniversary celebration of Missy Higgins’ debut album, The Sound Of White, but with a bit of difference. The show is split into two parts with two acts. The first act sees Higgins playing solo material stripped-back and acoustic on guitar and piano including brand-new songs, fan-favourites, and some very old unreleased songs. The second act is a special performance of The Sound Of White in its entirety with a full band.

For the first half, Higgins has curated a list of fan-requested older songs that are a bit rare or songs that aren’t played very often. The first couple of songs she begins with are from her second album including Forgive Me and Sugarcane. We instantly feel a flood of emotion wash over us as she pours her heart out on stage and even sheds a tear herself. “I’ve got a watery eye today, I swear I’m not crying,” she jokes.

Higgins opens herself up in the intimate setting as she reveals intricate personal stories and lets us in to her creative process and thoughts behind the inspiration of each song. It feels like she’s playing in her living room to a bunch of friends – raw and unfiltered.

“I’ve been writing new songs over the past year for her new album coming out in a few months’ time called The Second Act. The whole album is very sad,” she admits. She reveals that she separated from her husband a couple of years ago and tells us that it’s been a very cathartic process channelling this into her therapeutic songwriting. She’s picked herself up, making a new story for herself and shares the first song she wrote about a year after the separation called A Story For The Ages. “It was the first time I felt I could actually wrap words around it. Sometimes you have to get a bit of distance from something traumatic to be able to see it with a little bit of perspective,” she tells.

She invites some friends out onto the stage to sing backing vocals with her for the next few songs including another new track called You Should Run. “All of the songs on this new album are very revealing and vulnerable. I’ve actually never been this honest in my songs, but this song is about me trying to have another relationship but I’m still feeling a bit too broken,” she reveals.

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Higgins continues with a very old song written when she had just finished high school and got a record deal. After backpacking around Europe for six months she got this one song that she shares called Greed For Your Love. She then plays a song she wrote in year twelve for a jazz assignment at her end of year concert. She promises to be much more engaged and interested than she was playing it back then. It’s a song called The Cactus That Found The Beat about her love of music being her connection to something spiritual – music being her god growing up.

For something extra special, tonight she plays a very new song never played before called The Inbetween. “It’s about that feeling when you’ve passed through a certain stage in your life but you’re not quite in the next stage yet and you can see the other chapter in the horizon but it’s still far away and a bit blurry,” she reveals.

She continues with a deeply personal song written for her daughter about her marriage separation with a different kind of happy ending called A Complicated Truth.

Higgins performs her latest single (The Second Act) as the last song of first act. It’s a bit of a happier song to encompass what she has felt on her more optimistic days of her journey over the past year. She confesses she’s happy with where she’s at in her life now and ready for whatever life is going to throw at her next.

After an intermission, we’re refreshed and ready to go for part two of the show, which starts with interview recording snippets of Higgins after winning triple j’s Unearthed competition at age twenty.

It’s only fitting that she begins with the song that started it all (All For Believing), which was written years earlier for a class music assignment. She’s joined by a talented cellist to amplify the emotion in the song as she plays alongside on the piano.

“I’m not doing The Sound Of White in order of the album. You order an album differently to how you order a live show. With an album you put the best, most interesting songs at the front because you don’t trust that people will keep listening but with a live show you are stuck in your seats,” she jokes.

Before each song Higgins lets us in to her deep thinking mind with dark and sensitive tales about each song. “To play three nights at the Palais is a dream come true. It really blows me away that I’m playing these songs after all these years and you still wanna hear them, but I still love playing them,” she exclaims.

We fall in love all over again with her hits including Ten Days, The Special Two and Any Day Now as

she reminisces about experiencing so many big emotions for the first time in her younger years for

the first time. “There’s a universal truth in these songs that I can still relate to and I adapt them to whatever else is going on in my life. I love the idea that my songs mean something completely different to you,” she says.

Casualty is inspired by her love of funk and jazz and is a real treat for fans as she hasn’t played it a lot in last fifteen years as it requires a trumpet player (which we’re lucky to have tonight). Whilst the mood is upbeat, she keeps it going with her first single Scar that kickstarted the whole album and went number one.

The show finishes with the title track The Sound Of White. It’s a beautifully sad song inspired by her cousin that passed away at a young age and encapsulates her first experience with losing someone that took a bit of time to process. Higgins gives a remarkable performance that shows how far she’s come and gives a glimpse of the exciting new chapter embarking on that promises to be her most truthful and personal to date.