A six-episode online series curated, professionally recorded and filmed by Mushroom Group, The State Of Music has thrown some extraordinary Aussie artists together for collabs since its inception.
We’re keen to see whether some of these heavenly matches – including The Rubens & Odette, The Angels & Ella Hooper and Mitch King & William Barton – reconvene down the track for recording sessions; now that would be a positive lockdown outcome. Episode five was an absolute corker, largely due to the following killer performances (the embedded vids are set to start at the exact point you’re looking for, too, but we’ve included the times in case you wana fling back-and-forth in one playback):
Something For Kate – Monsters (4:50)
The State Of Music host Jane Gazzo comes to us live from Arts Centre Melbourne’s Australian Music Vault and shows us Missy Higgins’ high school notebook, a couple of Paul Kelly’s harmonicas and one of Shirley Strachan’s outlandish Skyhooks costumes. She then throws to Something For Kate, who we’re told were invited to set up in the historic State Drawing Room inside Melbourne’s Government House.
What a scene! The camera pans into the room while Something For Kate – stately frontman Paul ‘Honey Larynx’ Dempsey and bassist Stephanie Ashworth, on this occasion – launch into their anthem about second-guessing yourself: Monsters. There’s wall-to-wall ye olde furniture and the open fireplace is set to lit. The State Drawing Room acoustics sound top-notch as well. “And I don’t want to slide into apathy/ And I don’t want to live in captivity” – these lyrics are so poignant right now! Ah, Echolalia, you will be getting a spin the millisecond this livestream wraps.
Nic Cester & The Milano Elettrica – God Knows (13:30)
Tim Blackwell, this week’s The State Of Music cohost, is in his living room when he interviews Jet frontman Nic Cester. Wearing an eye-catching white suit with crisp black shirt underneath, Cester comes to us from a historic recording studio that he labels “the Abbey Road of Milan.”
Post-chat, we cut to Cester (wearing the same snazzy outfit plus shades) crossing the road before entering the afore-mentioned recording studio, navigating the corridors and then joining his band The Milano Elettrica – plus string quartet – to perform God Knows (from his delicious 2017 solo album, Sugar Rush). During a long shot, we notice Cester is wearing white shoes – that’s European farshun, baby! Cester has star quality in abundance – that’s undeniable – and no one yowls quite like this man. His vocal performance is astonishing on this occasion, somehow never swamped by the full orchestral arrangement and lush instrumental layers. “God knows I’m coming/ Coming/ Back for more…” – yeah, you are, Cester! We’re tipping this outfit’s upcoming Live Across Europe album (out 19 June) will fly off the shelves.
Joe Camilleri & The Black Sorrows feat Jade MacRae – Chained To The Wheel (28:40)
It really doesn’t get much better than this Gold-certified single Chained To The Wheel performed by Joe Camilleri & The Black Sorrows feat Jade MacRae (whose new album Handle Me With Care is scheduled to drop on 12 June).
Hot tip, everyone – Camilleri is wearing a light-coloured suit (cream) as well – they must be in! The Black Sorrows look elegant, appropriately dressed in black, and when that brass duo kicks in we’re powerless before this musical powerhouse. MacRae’s vocal runs absolutely slay during this song’s outro.
Hang on, is this location Melbourne’s own Bakehouse Studios? Now wonder they sound so good! Every single band member looks incredibly joyous during this performance (especially drummer Tony Floyd) and we’re struck by just how much musicians must’ve missed playing with their bands IRL during iso (it’s been hard enough for us spectators!).
Mitch King & William Barton – Youngblood (34:00)
After his Welcome To Country, which opened tonight’s The State Of Music edition, one of Australia’s finest didgeridoo players William Barton encourages artists “to continue to write music and history together.”
Here Barton joins Mitch King, one of our country’s growing list of ‘buskers done good’, to perform a cover of Youngblood by 5SOS. King and Barton’s version – which elevates to even loftier heights when King also plays harmonica – needs its own release. This Mt Tambourine-raised artist has already supported Supertramp’s Roger Hodgson and Tones And I, and King is programmed for greatness.
Abby Dobson feat Ngaiire, Paul Dempsey & Cub Sport’s Tim Nelson – Even When I’m Sleeping (43:35)
This all-star cast come to us simultaneously from all different rooms across three different Australian states (Dobson and Ngaiire are in Sydney, Dempsey’s in Melbourne and Nelson’s in Brisvegas). The moment Abby Dobson’s trademark husky timbre kicks in – “Don’t be confused by my apparent lack of ceremony…” – the ghosts of girl/boyfriends past float by, as do scenes from that excellent Australian drama series The Secret Life Of Us.
(Actually, where can we stream all four seasons of that ace show in full? And who wants to come ’round for a marathon viewing sesh, BYO wine and homemade snacks to share? [Edit: It’s on 7Plus! You’re very welcome.])
As we cut to each featured artist – Ngaiire then Dempsey then Nelson (wow! What a standout performance and we also heart his fairy light-decorated studio) – they nail their respective parts of this 1998 APRA Song Of The Year, and it’s intoxicating. Future supergroup, perhaps?
Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, this version then morphs into some vintage live footage of Leonardo’s Bride – in acoustic, duo mode – performing the tail end of this song at the 1997 ARIA Awards. “OOOOOooooooooo, don’t be afraid/ Don’t be afrai-aid…” And now we’re obsessed with this song all over again.
The State Of Music actually sprang from that excellent Michael Gudinski-brainchild, Music From The Home Front, which transmitted live performances into our lounge rooms on ANZAC Day and was a ratings smash. A double-CD of Music From The Home Front is set to be released on 19 June., with a green and gold triple vinyl iteration coming on July 31. Read our esteemed Music Editor’s dazzling review of the event here.
Livestream the final ep of The State Of Music via Facebook, YouTube or together.vic.gov.au this Friday 5 June from 7.30pm.