Okay, maybe not one of those salted caramel banana ganache eggs (who can compete with that sort of posh-o nonsense) but ISOL-AID #4 – which arrived this Easter weekend after the roaring success of three other iterations plus the spesh international edition – did plenty to keep the sweet smiles on our faces. Here’s our live review featuring the top five performers!
Ben Lee appears wearing a Pepsi logo t-shirt that reads ‘Peyote’ (but backwards because his smartphone is set up in selfie mode). A few commenters express their wish for The Bens (a supergroup comprising Ben Folds, Ben Kweller and Ben Lee) to reform. Lee opens with Gamble Everything For Love, solo on acoustic guitar, which instantly reminds us of his matchless songwriting chops.
Reading the comments as they scroll up his phone screen, Lee can’t help but smile by way of response to some of these while he plays – talk about a multitasking genius! After letting us know his Mum sent him a text that reads, “Can’t find you on Instagram,” Lee addresses her (even though she won’t be able to hear him): “I cannot help you, my beloved mother.”
Cigarettes Will Kill You follows, with Lee belting, “And IIIIIIIIIIIII want a TV embrace” – which is probably the only kind of embrace many can hope for right now. (As if he’s reading our minds, Lee then adds, mid-song, “Any kind of embrace.”) He really lets loose on guitar, and his extended “Wrooooooooooooooooong”s are lung-busting toward song’s close.
“This song was not written about an actual disease; it was about the power of love and the human heart,” Lee stresses just after commencing Catch My Disease. What a little bliss bomb Lee is! Such an infectious giggle. “And they play Paul Dempsey on the radio…” – Lee changes the lyrics within this song to also incorporate Anna Cordell and Courtney Barnett.
Before performing a new song called Born For This Bullshit, Lee shares his usual approach when faced with challenges – such as the one we’re all facing now: “Bring it on, let’s do this! Let’s make the changes we have to…” After he finishes this song, Lee then promises to “get it together and make that record”. This is the best! We sure wish we could kick off every single day with a short live set from Lee. “If there’s anybody who is taking any of these songs into their heart at this present moment… I’m here for it!” Lee enthuses and then closes with We’re All In This Together, which could very well be the themesong for COVID-19, and we can just tell this is a singalong moment in many homes.
Melody Pool has set up four candles on a windowsill in the only area of her house that she can get good phone reception, which creates a lovely flickering light on her beautiful, expressive face. “Happy isolation Easter!” she beams, before performing some new songs: One Too Many, Of Loving (about her “bloody lonely” Eat Pray Love-type solo travelling experience in New Zealand) and Things Must Change , the latter of which Pool explains is “cranky Melody at her finest” and goes out to “Scotty from marketing.” Woo-hoo! She has a new album on the way!
(We would pre-order it right now if we could, based on the strength of the songs Pool previews today.) “It feels good to bash that one out,” she chuckles, post-song.
I Feel Everything, a tune Pool wrote about losing her passion for music slightly and feeling guilty about it, follows. Pool stares right down the barrel of the camera and we’re completely captivated from start to finish.
“You can hear my dog in the background, she’s drinking water and just staring at me like, ‘What the f-ck are you doing?'” Pool shares, before performing Love, She Loves Me, which is probably her most well-known song. Raw emotion bubbles just below the surface even when performing older material, which Pool draws upon for these achingly honest portrayals.
(Top comment: “Probably the greatest song ever written about shitting in somebody else’s toilet.”)
Teen Jesus & The Jean Teasers
After a technical difficulty, Anna Ryan from Teen Jesus & The Jean Teasers starts her set again, telling us she’s switched her Wi-Fi off to use mobile data instead. She opens with See You In A Bit (I Still Care) – accompanying herself on guitar – and commenters begin impressively time-posting their lyrical knowledge so that it pops up and coincides with Ryan’s singing: “I STILL CAAAAAAAAARE…”
Her dyed-purple bob is adorbs, and her grungy vocal spits out authentic lyrics. There’s also much discussion in the comments as to whether the curtains in Ryan’s bedroom are white or cream. “Do you like how I’ve got a setlist even though I’m only doing five songs?” Ryan points out, claiming that she can’t remember anything.
Closing with Desk Chair, Ryan proves that – even when delivered in this stripped-back, solo format – Teen Jesus & The Jean Teasers songs rock hard.
Such long, lustrous, flaxen locks! Johnny Mackay needs to audition for Hair (the musical) once Broadway reopens.
“I showered for the occasion,” Mackay informs us, and the underwater scene he has created – green-screen background? filter? – somehow fades out his body and transforms the lenses of his sunnies into water ripples as well; it’s actually as if Fascinator’s Water Sign album artwork has come to life. A pod of dolphin emojis surf through the comments while one viewer makes an astute observation: “Things you didn’t know you needed.”
Mackay plays wah-wah guitar over a sample that sounds like sitar, tamba and bongos; it’s cosmic AF and he occasionally chant-sings. Another witty comment: “I was expecting some Children Collide songs not an ayahuasca ceremony!”
While whipping that glorious, shiny mop of hair back and forth and triggering choir solos on his keyboard, Mackay sings, “When you are low, let me know/ I’ll lift you up from below.” We can think of no better time to exercise self-indulgence than when one is self-isolating and @lordfascinator undoubtedly wins many new fans today.
Such amazing set-dressing! Pink, red and tinsel curtains are draped across the back wall, along with what looks like a red-cellophane floor covering; Olympia herself is barefoot, wearing an aqua long-sleeved top and miniskirt in matching hue. “Welcome to my living room, which always looks like this,” she claims.
While introducing Nervous Riders, Olympia confesses she’s been watching a lot of Robbie Williams videos lately, many of which contain horses. Her voice is magnificent with just the right amount of vibrato. Olympia then covers Feel by Williams and it’s a brilliant, stripped-back-to-the-essence version.
Sharing the inspiration behind her luminous track Smoke Signals, Olympia tells us she was inspired in part by Sweepstakes Life (a Japanese reality TV show during which a man known as Nasubi was locked in an apartment, naked, and challenged to survive living solely off his winnings from mail-in sweepstakes. He apparently remained in iso for 15 months! Note to self: get on the Google as soon as Olympia’s set is done). After asking for requests and then realising that’ll be too hard, Olympia closes with Come Back.