Live Review: Simply Red, Natalie Imbruglia

17 February 2016 | 11:06 am | Michael Prebeg

"Marvelling at the grand venue, Mick Hucknall refers to the Palais as an "antiques museum"..."

Natalie Imbruglia makes the return to her old Melbourne stomping ground tonight, only recently back in the spotlight after a six-year hiatus. She appears refreshed and energised as she moves around with plenty of charisma in a casual Snoopy T-shirt. She starts with memorable favourite Wishing I Was There; we're instantly reminded how much we've missed Imbruglia's catchy pop hits and find ourselves remembering most of the words after all this time. She takes us through her back catalogue to play a song from each of her albums, leading all the way up to her latest release, Male, featuring covers of songs originally performed by males. She gives us her own version of Daft Punk's track featuring Julian Casablancas, Instant Crush, with less vocal effects and more emphasis on the lyrics to give it a whole new life.

After an unexpected backing-track glitch on Wrong Impression, Imbruglia does a little liturgical dance and carries on with style like an absolute pro. She has great control in her voice and her beautiful, smoky tones really shine through. The banjitar comes in for a few more covers including The Waiting by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and The Cure's Friday I'm In Love, adding a lively boot scootin' country twist with a few "yeehaw"s thrown in between the twangy strings. Of course she couldn't leave without playing her famous Torn in all the glory of its original form.

The return of the legendary Simply Red marks a milestone as the band celebrate their big 30th anniversary. Marvelling at the grand venue, Mick Hucknall refers to the Palais as an "antiques museum" and admits, "After 30 years we're kind of antiques too!" But their timeless sound is still as strong as ever and they certainly haven't lost it. Hucknall, together with his six-piece band, takes us on a journey, playing our favourites along with a few newer tracks. Ian Kirkham is the second longstanding original member and is the heart and soul of the group instrumentals, giving an incredible saxophone performance.

Over the years their biggest songs were the slowest and they have us right in the palm of their jazzy hands for You Make Me Feel Brand New, which demonstrates exceptional vocal power and restraint. Hucknall's smooth crooning continues on Holding Back The Years, before the band transition into upbeat hits such as Stars and The Right Thing to get everyone up on their feet and grooving along. Fairground brings the show to a peak as Hucknall stomps his foot and shouts an encouraging "Opa!" as rainbow lighting engulfs the stage.

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We're lucky enough to receive not one, but two encores and we definitely feel the big love in room. Simply Red show us that they're up with the latest tech, asking that we get together for a special panorama photo. We give our best pose before they perform one last little ditty to pour our hearts open to. We all feel the music and become one voice for the heartfelt If You Don't Know Me By Now. It's the perfect send-off to commemorate this special occasion that is simply unforgettable.