Live Review: Stella Donnelly - Festival 18

16 April 2018 | 11:13 am | Velvet Winter

"Pitch-perfect and gorgeous, it's enough to bring tears to eyes - which, looking around, it most certainly did."

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Perth's Stella Donnelly is dwarfed by the massive Orbit Stage at Festival 18. Newcomers in the crowd have no idea the power that the beaming singer is about to unleash.

For Donnelly, her force comes from her undeniable command with her words and with her voice. She kicked off with a duo of unreleased songs; You Owe Me, a song about a dodgy former boss ("He paid me a week later, I had the wrong week of my pay cycle," she explains afterwards to a roar of laughter from the crowd), and Season's Greetings, which focuses on that one member of the family that just can't quite grasp the concept of political correctness. Neither song is particularly complicated, some plucked electric guitar and vocals, that's it, but Donnelly's sharp storytelling and engaging inflection had the audience hanging on her every word. It's a promising display for an album that's, no doubt, coming our way very soon.

She moves onto a mid-set surprise of her most well-known song, the heartbreaking Boys Will Be Boys. The forecourt is so quiet during the song that you could hear a pin drop. Donnelly's vibrato expands and fills the open area. Pitch-perfect and gorgeous, it's enough to bring tears to eyes - which, looking around, it most certainly did.

Acknowledging the heavy subject of the previous song, Donnelly moves on to lighter fare with another unreleased track I Should Have Stayed At Home. Her prelude explains that the track was written after a particularly bad Tinder date and it is hysterical. The bridge is simply some weird things that her doomed date said and they are horrifically relatable ("He told me I was a hipster 'cause I had a fringe and read books"). If Donnelly ever feels like packing in the singer-songwriter schtick she could very well have a promising career as a musical comedian.

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The audience is then treated to a duo of covers; the first a wonderfully delicate rendition of Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time, which Donnelly developed for last year's Countdown tribute. The second is what Donnelly referred to as a "white girl" cover of Basement Jaxx's Good Luck. While Donnelly's version didn't have quite the funk of the original she certainly held her own and got people dancing. It's a tune that's crying out to be a triple j Like A Version.

Wrapping up with Mean To Me off her debut EP Thrush Metal, Donnelly once again shows the strength in her delicacy. Her sweet sounds sail on the cool evening air but her words cut through with piercing relevancy. She profusely thanks the swollen crowd and slinks offstage, leaving us having witnessed a star that, without a doubt, is only going to get brighter.