Live Review: Review: 'Play On Victoria' Gives Punters Exactly What They Need Right Now

1 November 2021 | 10:24 am | Joe Dolan

"This is a glimmer of hope that we can - and will - make it back."

After a tremendous Welcome to Country from the Djirri Djirri dance group, the future-proof MC Chris Gill steps out in all silver to declare that live music is well and truly back at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. The boisterous Triple R host whips the crowd into a frenzy of palpable excitement as he welcomes the first acts for the night onto the stage.

Many punters opted for a later entry and as a result were not lucky enough to catch the set from opening act Grace Cummings. The Melbourne artist and her band throw themselves completely and utterly into their performance, leaving not an ounce of energy or quality unused in their short time onstage.

Opening with the sensational new single Heaven, Cummings and co rip through the ’70s-inspired tunes that ripple with soul and tenacity. The singer’s raspy vocal tone is a perfect balance of sharp and warm - cutting through the rest of the instrumentation like a knife while still feeling welcoming in its power. Her laid back demeanour doesn’t last long, as the pure adulation at the notion of performing for a crowd again crept in until Cummings is beaming from ear to ear. With Storm Queen rounding out the set, the musician and her phenomenal band have undoubtedly slammed a flag into the night - cementing their place not only in the lineup, but in the Aus music landscape as a whole.

Onwards as the sun begins to set and the clouds gather once again - but as the drizzle begins to fall, Australia’s own sisters of soul Vika & Linda bring the heat like only they can. Industry royalty if ever the notion was more apt, the queens of Melbourne music show no signs of slowing down as they rocket past 27 years of recording together.

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The Bull sisters effortlessly blend new and old as they integrate the new tunes in amongst the fan favourites like pieces of a puzzle. From the classic When Will You Fall For Me to the recently released, Kasey Chambers-penned Raise Your Hand, the duo know exactly how to get a crowd up and dancing in the rain.

“I’ve just spoken to God!” Gill declares with a cheeky grin, “she says there’ll be no more rain tonight!” - an exciting prospect for the ever-growing crowd as smoke fills the stage and Baker Boy cranks the night up to another level.

Backed by just a drummer and DJ (along with some excellent backing dancers and guest vocals), Danzal Baker shines as a frontperson and hits all the marks.Singing, dancing, rapping, playing the didgeridoo and commanding his audience with his effervescent charm, Baker has everything a crowd could ask for plus a whole lot more.

With huge acclaim surrounding his debut album Gela, the Fresh Prince Of Ahnhem Land proves that the hype is real, with an explosive 30 minutes of joyous power.

From the slick G-Flip collab My Mind to his newest single Butterflies, the tunes laid out on stage tonight show Bakers diversity and musical prowess in a perfect little package of entertainment. From here, he will most certainly take on the world.

It’s hard to imagine a more delightfully dissonant bandleader than Amyl And The Sniffers’ own Amy Taylor. The almost softly-spoken vocalist comes on stage in all her glory to say g’day to her crowd before the Marshall Stacks send a deafening blast out in to the crowd, and suddenly the crazed mania of her onstage antics come into play and Taylor is a different person. Amy is gone, and Amyl has come out to play.

Guided By Angels sends a beckon call out to the punters and suddenly the front of stage has disappeared amongst the captivated crowd. The pub-rock four-piece may be a little less at home on the Sidney Meyer stage, but Taylor and the boys make it their own in a matter of seconds. Security, Some Mutts Can’t Be Muzzled, Hertz and even a cheeky cover of the Patrick Hernandez classic Born To Be Alive, there is no doubt as to why the Melbourne quartet have quickly become one of the most loved bands on the circuit.

The moon has well and truly taken over the sky but the night is still young - and when King Gizzard And the Lizard Wizard finally step onto the stage, the audience hit that all important second wind and are ready to roll into the wee hours.

Despite having one of the most extensive back catalogues of any band in the country, the Gizz manage to whittle down 14 absolute belters for a set and make damn sure that every millisecond therein is honed to perfection. Having managed to already drop two albums in 2021 (some would even call that a slow year for the Melbourne group), it’s the June release Butterfly 3000 that gets the most love. The live debut of the massive Shanghai and even a glimpse of upcoming tunes with the yet-to-be-released Gaia, the Vic sextet know exactly what they’re doing, and boy do they do it well.

Live music in the state (and in deed the country) may still be struggling, and Play On Vic is just a fractional look into what the future may hold for the industry at large, but it is undeniable that the people have been raring to get back into it. From the musos to the punters and all those working behind the scenes to make it possible, and providing the industry continues to get the attention it deserves, this is a glimmer of hope that we can - and will - make it back.