Live Review: Patrick James, Hein Cooper, Olly Friend

26 February 2016 | 2:15 pm | Montana Tudor

"It feels more like a group of friends getting together to listen to music than musicians playing to a crowd."

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There's something intimate about tonight, it might be the cosy venue or the fact that much of the audience is sitting crossed-legged below the stage, waiting for things to get started. Olly Friend sets the mood with his smooth acoustics and powerful vocals that are reminiscent of Matt Corby. The crowd is captivated, especially when he gets off the stage and plays from the centre of the room.

The tall silhouette of Hein Cooper takes the stage. There's chatter among audience members, he starts to play then — silence. The audience can't look away as each track he plays is experimental, diverse and moreish. He covers Runaway by Kanye West, beautifully, opting to change out certain lyrics to substitute his own. Cooper's also pretty charming, too. The Art Of Escape leaves the audience in awe and wanting more.

Patrick James and his band begin their set with In New Light; it's uplifting, upbeat and sets the tone for the rest of the show. Everyone stands when they play Fight With Me, which has a country twang underneath relaxed, smooth vocals. The rest of the band stand back and James begins to play Bugs; "I've been itching to record this," he explains and you can tell by the emotion he plays with that this song means a lot to James. Bugs is a beautiful song that features quite dark lyrics. The band exit the stage, leaving James solo, he ditches the guitar and takes a seat at the keyboard for Kings And Queens. This song is filled with sorrow and beautifully emotive and fans are completely still.

The band join him again and jump into Make Me Stronger. It's upbeat and a little rockier than some of their other songs and this picks the mood right up. Message follows and serves to amplify the feel-good vibes. There's a pause and then James reveals they're going to cover a John Farnham track: "Don't worry, it's not You're The Voice," he reassures. They start to play Two Strong Hearts then, all of a sudden, a saxophone comes out! The crowd applaud and laugh simultaneously; it's pretty cool in a dorky-Aussie kind of way, but they do the song proud. The intro to Burn Away sounds and this song is well-received: a beautiful, almost-ballad with big, powerful sounds and dramatic percussion that goes straight through your body. California Song is undoubtedly a crowd favourite. The show is a musical feast of instruments as James swaps between acoustic and electric guitar, then moves onto keyboard. It feels more like a group of friends getting together to listen to music than musicians playing to a crowd. Heartfelt and humble, James is a pleasure to watch. An amazing songwriter with a genuine nature, James is one talented artist.

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