Live Review: Stella Donnelly's Intimate Gig at The Bird
If you haven’t caught Stella Donnelly live before, you need to rectify that as soon as possible. After playing with bands like Boat Show and Bells Rapids, she’s already made a name for herself as an artist in her own right with her superb vocal range, personable lyrics and intricate guitar licks. And on the 24th of August at an intimate Bird gig, she proved once again why she’s such hot property on the Perth scene.
New Nausea kicked off proceedings to an already sizeable audience, and rose to the occasion. His songs range from the hushed and subdued to the hard-hitting and loud, each showcasing a keen lyrical ability and expertise on the guitar. Telete took stage next, and it was magical. For two people, these girls create epic, expansive sounding tunes, built on the keyboard, violin, electronic drum beats, beautiful vocals and loops. Armed with intriguing lyrics that lean on anatomy analogies and Mai Barnes’ engrossing stage presence (she has some serious moves), this duo is one to look out for. Their Kate Bush cover was fantastic, but it was definitely their original arrangements that got me going.
By the time Stella Donnelly took to the stage, The Bird was well and truly packed. Donnelly’s dedicated, diverse fan base came in droves, creating a buzzed, but warm atmosphere. And for an artist with such raw talent, Donnelly is a gracious and humble performer. Both opening acts stressed what a wonderful human she is, and this once again shone through in her engagement with her audience, with some wonderful (and occasionally, wonderfully awkward) banter and genuine gratefulness.
Donnelly kicked things off with ‘A Poem’, the closing track to her excellent debut EP, Thrush Metal. Across the night, she played every song from that record, even drawing out some singalongs from the crowd. “Have I got lyrics behind me or something?” Donnelly remarked at one point, clearly thrilled with the reaction she was receiving.
She peppered her set with a handful of new tracks which may be familiar to some fans but are yet to be released in recorded format. These include a factually-specific love-song, an angry letter to an ex-boss (which featured a new verse she apparently wrote on that day) and a takedown of betting advertisement. Her single cover of the night, a jazzy take on ‘Good Luck’ by Basement Jaxx, was another highlight, as was the harmonica-featuring oldie-but-goodie 'My Mia'. Set closer ‘Mean to Me’ was another highpoint, giving her a chance to demonstrate her exceptional vocal range.
Everyone has those artists that makes them go, “They’re going to be big one day.” Stella Donnelly is one of those musicians for me. And judging by the mood of the night, I’m not alone in thinking that.