Live Review: Novo Amor @ The Tivoli

8 December 2023 | 11:19 am | Liv Dunford

"I haven’t gotten to experience Brisbane very much; I hear it’s a rough place. I was hoping I’d get stabbed..."

Novo Amor

Novo Amor (Source: Supplied)

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In what was quite possibly one of the shortest opening acts in live music history, multi-instrumentalist and producer Ed Tullett – otherwise known as Lowswimmer – performed a beautifully raw acoustic three-song-setlist to alleviate the inevitable restless anticipation that had seeped its way into the crowd as the clock ticked nine. 

Song number three surfaced in the form of Famous, which is but one of a series of gentle and ethereal collaborations with artist Jemima Coulter released under the moniker Hailaker. “This is my last song because I’m doing the Novo set too, and half of those songs I probably co-wrote,” was how Tullett aptly justified the absence of a fully-fledged set. He’d be out again in another ten minutes, refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to reduce a room full of adults to tears. 

When Novo Amor’s Ali Meredith-Lacey finally materialised from the lavender haze that carpeted the stage, the ambiguity of that moment hung filipendulous and fragile in the air, as if suspended upon a thin thread on the precipice of snapping. The first song of the night could’ve been anyone’s guess, so when Lacey sat down at the piano, and the opening chords of Opaline melted through the speakers, the collective gasp this elicited from the crowd pointed to the very possibility that if there was ever a correct way to open a show, this was it. You don’t have to be Sherlock to figure that one out; it’s the opening track to Lacey’s 2020 album Cannot Be, Whatsoever for a reason. 

After the soaring and grandiose blend of brass and percussion in Birthplace’s third song, Utican, Lacey gave a formal disclaimer and apologised on behalf of his failing immune system. “I’ve been in bed for three days getting over the flu…oh boo hoo poor me…it’s cool to be here though, I just have to say I’m kinda ill to justify all the mistakes you’re gonna hear.” The irony is, even though he was under the weather, absolutely no one could tell. Mistakes where? We could only see a musician masterclass. 

“It’s great to get down here; it’s been so nice.” Lacey’s sardonic humour made an appearance again as he discussed the details of his first headline tour down under. “All I know about Australia is a lot of funny videos on the internet.”

Before playing the highly anticipated State Lines, Lacey had to sneak in another quip. “Don’t worry, I’m going to stop touring one day, and AI is going to do it for me…I’m joking. I’m a joker. Feel free to sing along if you think you’re better than me.” The juxtaposition of crowd laughter against the soft, mellifluous chords flooding the room quickly became a rather entertaining reoccurrence.

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Lacey stared off into the horizon, musing. “If I was Taylor Swift, I’d come up with some silly story about how I’d been sick in bed for three days, but then I would rise up and be like, hey, it’s okay ‘cause I feel better!” He was, of course, introducing his 80s dream-synth tune, I Feel Better (add this song to your beach road trip playlist now and come back and thank me later). 

In perfect irony, the song’s end happened to be the first time that night where his voice gave, but ever the unintentional comedian, Lacey took it all in his stride. “What a great way to end a song. And a career! But I’m hot; you can do anything if you’re hot.” In the midst of the raucous laughter, Lacey’s voice had lowered to barely a peep. “Ha, no, I’m not hot.”

In arguably the most juxtaposing moment of the entire night, the room was enveloped in awed silence as the band engaged in haunting instrumental solos. Not to name names, but one instrument in particular seemed to send everyone into a quiet, tearful trance (Mr Trombone, here’s to looking at you). Cyan lights pulsed overhead, turning the room into a cavern that had mysteriously filled with glow worms. It was almost the perfect illusion until resident comedian Lacey decided to give his two cents on the city. “It’s a shame I haven’t gotten to experience Brisbane very much; I hear it’s a rough place. I was hoping I’d get stabbed…who wants to stab me? You can choose one of us to stab.” 

Though that certainly wouldn’t have been on anyone’s 2023 bingo card for ‘epic ways to close a show’, the sheer level of hysterics that ensued was proof in and of itself that if Lacey happened to want to pursue something other than music, comedy really is the only other correct option. 

Much to his dismay, he did not, in fact, get stabbed. Rather, something far more heinous was bestowed upon him after his final song - a singular request from a singular passionate punter. 

“Play Wonderwall!”