By Ciara Murphy
Plot twist: I secretly moved halfway across the world just so that I could see my favourite artist perform twice on the same tour.
Not quite, but the fact that Kacey Musgraves was doing the Australia leg of our Oh, What A World tour a mere six months after I’d seen her in London (you can read about that here) was definitely an added bonus. I’d also heard plenty of good things about the venue it was going to be held in, The Tivoli, so I was keen to see how that compared with the venues I’d frequented back in the UK.
I’d had to travel a long way to get down to Brisbane, so was surprised that there was still a queue winding around the block by the time I got there, with doors only eventually opening after 7pm. The Tivoli was indeed a pretty venue, looking like an old theatre, although I was dismayed to find that there were absolutely no seats available, as any of you who have read my reviews before will know just how much I dislike general admission standing, particularly as it usually means I have nowhere to sit and write down my review.
I chose to head up to the balcony, thinking it would be a bit less squashed up there (spoiler alert: it wasn’t) and waited for the opening act to come on stage. Bahamas, aka Afie Jurvanen, entered with a John Mayer-esque guitar intro, with this style seeming to be his vibe, which I wasn’t mad about.
As he played songs like So Free and No Expectations, this John Mayer vibe merged more with Mac DeMarco – long groovy guitar intros and interludes and a hell of a lot of funk, with Afie warning us ‘Watch out, this next one’s funky’ as he launched into Opening Act (The Shooby Dooby Song) which indeed did have a lot of shooby doobies.
Afie showed off his impressive vocal range and guitar skills on songs like Caught Me Thinkin, Lost In The Light, and All The Time, and I was sad to see so many people on their phones. Like me, it was understandable that most of them were there to see Kacey, but I always try to be there and be present for the opening act as they are often very talented musicians themselves.
The excitement was palpable as we waited for Kacey to grace the stage, which she eventually did in silhouette form. Dressed in a sixties style dress and thigh high boots, she began plucking away at the recognisable opening chords of Slow Burn. I appreciated how the set began the way the album does, and almost expected to carry on singing right into Lonely Weekend for song two.
This wasn’t the case, but the second song was my current favourite (aren’t they all?), Wonder Woman. I just love the lyrics like ‘I can show you strong, I can fight for you / I can try to move mountains if you want me to / But baby, I ain’t Wonder Woman’ so hearing it live made my heart sing.
It was here that she stopped to greet the crowd, promising us that she wouldn’t mispronounce Brisbane as I’m sure many an artist does. One of the best things about this concert, even more so than when I had seen her back in London, was the aesthetic set design, both in terms of lights and the screens behind her. During Butterflies, the screens shone circling butterflies and flowers, with Kacey taking a moment to revelin the fact that fans this side of the world knew the words to her songs, letting us sing along to the chorus as she held out the mic.
Lonely Weekend and Happy & Sad were backdropped by beautiful colourful natural landscapes, with the latter being exactly how I felt at that moment – oh so very happy to be seeing Kacey perform live and yet very sad to know that it would soon be over, and who knew the next time I would be at her gig?
Fans got a treat with Merry Go Round, the song that very much put Kacey on the map a few years ago, with subsequent hits and albums allowing her to stay there. Kacey’s guitarist got to go to town on the intro to High Time, one of my favourites from Pageant Material which now has an even deeper meaning for me.
Again, the set design astounded me as Golden Hour was literally backed by a golden hour projected onto the screen behind Kacey and her band, which just made it all the more vibey. This part of the set ended with what I think is one of Kacey’s underappreciated but incredibly fun songs – Die Fun – with Kacey riffing on the notes in a different style to on the album which was super cool to hear. She truly is a fantastic vocalist and I cannot fault a single note she sung throughout the concert.
This led us into the acoustic section of the set, a red curtain pulled over the screen and the band coming to form a semicircle around Kacey. They kicked off with Mother, before moving into Oh What A World. The trippy music video for this song had just been released that day, which made me even more appreciative of the banjo solo (watch the video to find out why!) This again is a beautifully written song with lyrics that really make you think.
At this point, Kacey took a good look at the crowd, admiring a fans t-shirt with a picture of Kacey as Barbie from the Met Gala just a few days prior, and asking how people could live in a country where things like Huntsman spiders exist (I ask myself the same thing every day). With the realisation that there could well be one in the venue that very moment, she said simply ‘F*** that’, a sentiment I certainly can agree with.
We got a fun throwback with Family Is Family, followed by Love Is A Wild Thing which exploded back into an electric set midway through, which I thought was very well done. There had obviously been a lot of thought put into this tour and setlist, and I for one certainly appreciated it.
I think every time I listen to the Golden Hour album, I get a new appreciation for Kacey’s songs, and most recently this has come with Velvet Elvis, the first song she played in this third part of the set. We did a fun ‘When I say Yee, you say Haw’ thing here, and the Aussie crowd showed her how they do this with a call of ‘Aussie Aussie Aussie Oy Oy Oy.’ I was pretty glad she wasn’t forced to do a shoey as many of the other artists I’ve seen over my time in Australia have been – keeping it classy here. I did hear she did a shoey out of a glass slipper in Melbourne though, which is indeed perhaps the classiest way to do it.
The tear-jerking Space Cowboy was next, followed by the sassy Follow Your Arrow which is perhaps one of the best songs to sum up who Kacey is – an artist not afraid to push the boundaries but in such a way that you can’t help but appreciate it.
Our encore came in the form of Rainbow and then yet another of my favourite songs, the incredibly fun, disco-inspired High Horse. I loved this particularly firstly because the groovy lighting really made it seem like we were in the disco this song was meant to be played in, and also because it seemed like Kacey really let herself go in this song, dancing along as she sang and looking as if she was having just as much fun as us (just with a bit more space)
I really can’t fault this gig, with the exception of being squashed in general admission. It was everything I had wanted it to be – wonderful vocals on my favourite songs, and with an incredible design that just worked and worked and worked. Golden Hour is the most deserving Best Album Grammy Winner in my books, and I cannot wait to see what Kacey has in store for us next – no doubt another fantastic album followed by another fantastic tour.