A long way from her bedroom studio in London, Laurel mades her Australian tour debut at The Corner on Wednesday night.
On support duty, Sydney band Clews impress. The sibling harmonies of Lily and Grace Richardson dominate, their combined vocal power acting as tonic for the soul. Shimmering, layered guitars and instrumental flourishes never overpower the stars of the show – those voices! The escalating arrangement, crashing drums and soaring vocals of Crushed leave us mesmerised.
Laurel takes the stage wearing a pretty, leaf-print fawn minidress that looks vintage, thick white headband and glittery gold eyeshadow. Calling to mind Alice in Wonderland, Laurel is also barefoot and backed by a three-piece band this evening. The bass player’s outfit is so casual he looks like he’s landed on stage straight off a long-haul flight! Laurel’s voice is pure perfection and sounds exactly the same as it does on record. Lovesick sees Laurel dancing freely, sans guitar, totally unselfconsciously. Guitarist Polly Money also supplies emotive BVs that wring out every last ounce of heartbreak, which is a recurring theme throughout Laurel’s material. But as melancholy as her output may be, Laurel and her bandmates enjoy a wonderful camaraderie that is reflected in their easy banter and elevates the gig’s overall tone.
The enthusiastic crowd singalong during Life Worth Living (“Take what you need, darling/I’m just here for you-oo-OO-OO-oo-oo-oo-oo” etc.) brings a smile to Laurel’s dial. Laurel sips from an Aperol Spritz and mentions this Italian booze brand quite a bit – she should definitely approach them for a sponsorship if she hasn’t already. Laurel has a very calm presence. She is also quite at home up there solo, accompanying herself on guitar while her ace backing band take a break. “This is a very good first show,” she enthuses. Laurel’s vocal tone especially exquisite when her delivery’s irate, as demonstrated during main-set closer Adored. After the band leave the stage, the crowd goes absolutely apesh-t.
Eventually, Laurel and co. return to the stage. “Sometimes when I get a bit nervous I can’t tune my guitar,” Laurel chuckles. “And sometimes I think I’m in the wrong profession.” A fanboy yells out, “Please don’t stop making music!” Laurel replies, “Oh, I couldn’t if I tried.” We’re encouraged to chat to our neighbours in the crowd while the tuning continues. Then they close the set proper with Same Mistakes after a couple of false starts (Laurel blames the Aperol). She’s a charmer. We’re hooked.
Bless her cotton socks, Laurel then spends an eternity at the merch desk signing, posing for selfies and engaging with fans until everyone in the lengthy queue receives her undivided attention.