24 May 2018
By Benjamin Smith
Photo: Kylie Coutts
The diminutive Sarah Blasko and her band of four appear dressed in black against a starkly unadorned background, the five letters of her last name hanging suspended in mid-air. Their brand of electro suitably filling the room in ways that needed no further accompaniment. Blasko herself appears in vintage garb and is all cuffs and collars and ruffle. She is like a conglomeration of every art pop mistress from decades past, with elements discernibly reminiscent of the early 80s at least stylistically and aesthetically, perhaps even vocally, although musically more contemporary.
Her and the band play the new record, Depth of Field, from start to finish. The record continues the evolution of her synth – heavy pop sound, with a highly theatrical element in the performance. For some, expecting a show full of favourites, it might have been a little disappointing but Blasko herself defended the choice by saying it was her wish to introduce the new material to the world en masse. There is something special about hearing music united by theme and time and concept and place given breath publicly in the order the artist intended it whilst fresh enough to hold its meaning. It is something she is unlikely to do again, at least not with this particular collection of songs, and it imbued the performance with a mood and a feel that was an absolute pleasure to experience.
She is less accessible than some, maybe many, of her contemporaries; the effect being that she manages to maintain a mystique that enhances the unconventional nature of her stageplay. She is aloof, but only ever so slightly. When she does speak she is appreciative and humble and, like almost all popular artists who play there, somewhat overwhelmed by the intensity of attention that the Canberra Theatre’s dynamic encourages its audiences.
After they finish playing Depth, Blasko and Co offer an assortment of more well known pieces from her previous albums and the air gets noticeably lighter. She plays a longer set than she might otherwise have done, with a brief two-song encore, though the crowd certainly let her know they wanted more.
Before she took the stage, Ryan Downey brought his impossibly lush vocals to life with tracks like Techno Dolls, Running and Renewed. The resonance of his baritone is so unusually rich its hypnotic and the sombre stillness of the arrangements showcases it wonderfully, particularly since Downey himself is so unassuming. He and his band’s set were an inspired choice to complement and set the mood for Blasko’s more polished appearance.
AMNPLIFY – DB
My nickname is “The Amnplifier”. Why? Because around here my focus is on being a conduit for providing greater outcomes that people come here for. My day to day “work” is living in the moment, and I love helping others concentrate on finding their connection to themselves through their experiences.
Why start a music environment? The truth is I love music, I love writing, and I love life. I work with musicians every day, and I feel certain that I will be until they put me in the ground. I have been managing people in businesses of some sort for over thirty five years so along the way I have developed some “wisdom” from my regular and constant “observations”.
Amnplify your experience. That is what we want you to do here, and if you want to let me know why you do, or don’t, shoot me a message on Facebook.
Hope you enjoy yourself here and find something that hits you somewhere.