I have a confession to make. I have lived in Canberra my entire life and have never been to a concert at the Canberra Theatre. As shameful as this is, I think I have successfully redeemed myself. I was lucky enough to attend a sold-out performance of Australian country rock and roll at the Canberra Theatre Playhouse last Thursday. Two iconic, Australian ladies of country rock brought the theatre alive, dazzling the audience with their soulful vocals, cheeky lyrics and cheerful onstage presence. I am speaking of course of two Aussie gems; Butterfly Boucher and Missy Higgins.
I wasn’t familiar with Butterfly Boucher’s music, but as I took my seat in the fully capacitated theatre, I completely understood why Missy Higgins had chosen the enchanting Boucher to help overcome her writers block, and produce her latest album; The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle.
Butterfly Boucher was casually confident onstage, with an obvious natural talent in performing. Her songs were up-beat and poppy, yet retained an Aussie twang of country rock. In between swapping guitars and battling with a rather temperamental tuning peddle; Boucher kept up a playful dialogue – entertaining the audience with lighthearted jokes and banter.
Towards the end of her set, she invited Missy Higgins onstage to join her in a quirky duet. Missy, dressed down in a hoody and a pair of Boucher’s jeans showed off her mean keyboarding skills, and together the pair delivered a catchy version of Boucher’s ‘None the Wiser’. Missy and Boucher were a joy to watch as they danced playfully onstage and the chemistry between them was obvious. They were having a blast, and the audience was too.
For Butterfly Boucher’s final song, she sang her cheekily seductive tune; ‘5 6 7 8’. The cabaret-style rock song suited the Playhouse theatre setting perfectly, and concluded her set on a lighthearted yet sexy high.
After hurriedly making some CD purchases during the intermission, I eagerly returned to my seat and waited for the star of the show; Missy Higgins to begin.
Dazzling in a green glittering gown, Missy arrived onstage looking every bit the star. Her eyes sparkled brighter than the sequins on her dress. Missy was perfectly at ease on stage, her five year hiatus from music has not appeared to have affected her confidence, and it was clear after her first song that she was all too happy to be back; singing songs from her new and highly anticipated album.
After a soulful start to the set, Missy launched into her new song ‘Hello Hello’ which had audience member’s heads bopping and toes tapping along. Her huge set was a mix of old favorites and her latest tunes, there was also some playful interaction with her band and the audience thrown in which kept the mood up-beat and conversational. Butterfly Boucher was also up on stage, playing bass guitar and providing back-up vocals for Missy, and sneaking the occasional cheeky comment in between songs.
Audience interaction was appreciated and encouraged. At one stage Missy Higgins requested we all make animals noises for her song ‘Watering Hole.’ The Canberra audience eagerly obliged, offering up a range of bird-calls, meowing, barking and bleating, transforming the theatre into a farm, much to the amusement of the band.
Missy’s set flew by, every song was met by members of the audience exclaiming delight as they recognized old favorites such as ‘Peachy’ or the newest single from The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle; ‘Unashamed Desire.’
As the end of Missy’s set drew near, I began to wonder if she would play her two biggest and greatest hits; which also happened to be the two songs I had been eagerly awaiting all night. After playing her last song Missy Higgins cheerfully announced to the audience she was going to treat us all to a ‘Fake encore’ – Rather than have the entire band exit the stage and sneak back – the lighting was switched off briefly, then the stage re-illuminated, and the band launched into Missy’s 2004 hit (and my own personal favourite) ‘Scar’ which majority of the audience sang along to, missing not a single word. My second favourite song was also played in the encore; her other smash hit ‘Steer’, concluding her performance beautifully.
The audience treated the humble Missy Higgins and her talented band to a standing ovation, which she certainly deserved. It was a beautiful night, in a beautiful venue, and Missy Higgins truly shined as she treated us all to The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle.
Photography by Chris Whitfield