Tag: Stu Hunter

REVIEW: Melbourne Festival Presents KATIE NOONAN’S VANGUARD

Evocative, experimental and enthralling

By Jessica Cornish

Kicking off her 2015 national tour promoting her latest crowd-funded record, Katie Noonan performed last weekend at Melbourne Festival’s Foxtel Hub. Back to her roots and travelling with trio of talented band mates Stu Hunter (keys), Declan Kelly (drummer), and Peter Koopman (guitarist), now known as Vanguard,  Noonan and her musicians performed a beautiful late-night set in the heart of Melbourne.

Katie Noonan

Armed with her percussive wooden cylinder, drum sticks, keyboard and an array of gaudy silver-animal bling, she belted out a mix of originals from her latest album Transmutant and some older songs such as ‘Sweet One’ written with world-famous artist Sia when they were both living in L.A. a decade ago, struggling with the image-obsessed and at times brutal music industry, and realising that they were part of each other’s strongest support networks.

It was definitely not your typical pop set – or even jazz for that matter, and I couldn’t even hum you back any melody featured in her songs. I think her works are best described as a mix of electronic pop-like ballads, incorporating many different textures of sounds and rhythm using synthesisers and pedal effects. At times the songs seemed to drift aimlessly with no real sense of purpose or direction and on reflection many of the songs seemed similar and merged into each other. However all her songs appeared to be of a highly personal nature and were reflections on those close to her life. She expressed her love for her two sons and their ability to find joy in daily life, and her distress dealing with the grief of the steady deterioration of her father’s health. Noonan’s voice is definitely a highlight of the performance, truly a stunning instrument and as perfect as any polished recording you could hear playing. She has a breathy, yet gutsy voice gliding in to her higher vocal range, so ultimately her songs trap you in the moment, and left me listening intently to every word and note she produced. To be honest it was hard to concentrate on anything else that was going on, including the funky LED-panelled backdrop and flashing lights.

Through out the evening Katie was incredibly engaging and honest with us as her audience. The night seemed more like a cabaret, providing insight in to the singer’s life and the people who surround her in everyday situations. She took the time to explain the backstory to all her songs (and I even learnt that the German super market ALDI never play music in their stores because they don’t want to pay licencing fees). That tale of continuous silence was even the springboard for another one of Katie’s latest musical creations featured in the hub that evening. Her interaction with her band mates was also really genuine and their close rapport was really nice to watch, as so often musicians go unnoticed by their well-known vocalists. She even performed a song she had written as a wedding gift for Hunter.

The Foxtel Hub was a great venue, it was intimate, had a punchy lighting rig and really clear, high quality sound. It was a real treat to see such an iconic Australian performer as part of the Melbourne Festival, and to top it off, while waiting for the doors to open, my Dad and I were inundated with complimentary alcohol and food tastings from local Melbourne restaurants. A lovely night out in all.



See him live

By Christine Moffat

Paul McDermott has built a successful TV career since Doug Anthony All Stars from occasionally singing a song, and fully exploiting his lovably evil personality.  Lots of people do this, but no one does it quite like ‘our Paul’.  When he is sharing funny anecdotes he gives you permission to have a guilt-free laugh at life’s darker points.  He brought this quality in spades last night: nothing was out of bounds, and every story he told was funny and very wrong.  As a comedian McDermott is a darker, edgier performer here than his television persona: perhaps a live show can give him licence to be ruder, even more irreverent and therefore even funnier.

Paul McDermott

Paul McDermott the singer is a something different and more emotionally involving.  His voice is a surprising blend of sweetness and maturity, and he sings with commitment – nothing is a throwaway line.  The songs that he performed ranged from touching ballads to high-energy soul numbers (all but one from his ‘back catalogue’), and also his own compositions.  The “band of real musicians” as it says in the show’s blurb, (led by the great Stu Hunter) is fantastic and musically re-made the songs into something fresh and new.

The crowd was a bit tame at first, perhaps quietened by the shade of his daunting TV personality.  He quickly built rapport, ironically by turning his acerbic wit on the audience, and soon had everyone stomping loudly in appreciation.  It goes without saying that he is a funny man, but what you may not realise is that he is also an incredibly generous performer.  When the show ran over time, he and the band led the crowd out of the band room, and performed a couple more songs on the stairs in the foyer!

Paul McDermott has a wickedly funny mind, a haunting voice, and an obvious love of performing and entertaining a crowd.  What more could you ask for on a night out?

Venue: The Forum – Downstairs

Dates: 10 – 14 April, 16 – 20 April

Times: Tues – Sat 9.45pm/Sun 8.45pm

Price: $34 (U18 must be accompanied by an adult)



Ticketmaster 1300 660 013

At the door