Project Description

MONTAIGNE @ Capitol, WA – 29/07/17 (Live Review)

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Montaigne

Photo by Johnny Diaz Nicolaidis Creatives

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No one could ever accuse Montaigne of being insincere. Even the simple act of introducing herself, as she did on opener What You Mean to Me, exuded her affable charm “Hi guys, I’m Montaigne a-k-a… Jess”. Like we didn’t know, because Capitol was filled with not just casual observers but invested fans, and that can only come about when an artist makes a connection.

From making rambling speeches about her butt at the ARIAs, to literally wearing her values on herself in promo shots, “Analyse your weaknesses”, Jess Cerro is growing not only as an artist but as a performer who is understanding what it means to own your space.

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Montaigne

Photo by Josh Groom

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Barefoot and dressed in an oversized long sleeved white tunic like she’s playing the lead role in a production of Pagliacci, Montaigne grounds herself in subtle theatre. In Glorious Thoughts she swings up and down the vocal scale with all the angst of a young woman, “And the furthest I reach is my body weight”, not yet fully claiming her purpose. “I am climbing the charts but my heart is bleak” at this stage at least.  It’s opera for the modern young woman all set to the quirky strangeness of Cerro’s stylistic approach.

Because I Love You had the crowd bouncing up and down in time with their object of affection on stage. A wonderful song that embraces the absurdity of young love, Cerro prefaced the song explaining it was inspired by a intense yet ultimately doomed relationship. Asides like this, point to why she had the audience in the palm of her hand, metaphorically and literally, as she made her way up and down front of stage smiling and clutching the hands of her fans.

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Montaigne

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The last time I had seen Cerro, she stood primarily front and centre of a small stage playing her songs on guitar, shy but itching to riff because one senses that Cerro just wants to wax lyrical at length if given the chance. This time around supporting the well-received Glorious Heights album, Cerro has brought along a band with her that provides here with the fuller, richer soundscape that her elastic voice requires. Greater Than Me was given a snappy outing that sounded like an 80s nuwave pop tune resplendent in self deprecating lyrics and Cerro’s spunky delivery and confident mic use.

By the time she finally looped her new Maton guitar strap around her shoulders to perform A Cinematic Plea For An End, one almost forgets this is where it all began. Seeing glimpses again of the teenager and her guitar who made melancholic, introverted music in her bedroom; a Cinematic Plea left the audience on the precipice of an emotional wasteland. This is where Cerro sets herself apart from other contemporaries, her musicality and voice soars in the face of heartache all without a shred of self-consciousness. Consolation Prize, Lie To Myself, and Come Back To Me gave the set a real emotional weight whilst holding the audience’s attention and giving a reprieve from an otherwise ebullient set.

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Montaigne

Photo by Benjamin Riches Photography

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Satisfyingly this is an artist who appears to be in a trajectory of growth. Where you have a straight-arrowed falsetto delivery of Clip My Wings, we now also get Cerro’s version of an indie-rock song Till It Kills Me. Encore song could only be the twisted waltz, I’m A Fantastic Wreck but now we also get the darkly murky In The Dark which has Cerro exorcising herself  as she rolls and crawls about the ground like some ingenue snake charmer.  All in all it was a concert brimming with Cerro’s emerging vivacious personality and displaying her embrace of the left-of-centre whilst still delivering a coherent story.

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AMNPLIFY – DB

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