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AMY SHARK @ RAC Arena gets 8.5/10


Amy Shark @ RAC Arena
w/ George Alice, Teenage Joans
Friday, May 13, 2022

8.5/10

Amy Shark concerts walk a tightrope of genres and emotions. Her songs are often angry but she looks like she couldn’t be happier; she absolutely rocks a stadium but just as often acoustic offerings and chilled electronic beats provide room for introspection. Her meticulously crafted sets and big budget production are perfectly suited to stadium shows like last Friday’s, and yet her raw emo performances and lyrics lend a relatable intimacy. Speaking between songs she’s sincere to the point of being scripted and says “I love you!” to the crowd a little too often; but give her time she’s also funny AF.

Her support acts displayed a similar disparity. Both may be former Unearthed High winners for triple j, but the emo-grunge of Teenage Joans is a long way from the electronic bedroom-pop of George Alice. The former, who humbly identified as “just two kids from Adelaide” stormed through an impressively energetic set of great guitar effects and booming drums, with Wine and Something About Being Sixteen among the highlights. Alice on the other hand presented more of a lackadaisical, stoned energy, even as she charmed the crowd with covers of Tove Lo and Rüfüs Du Sol wedged between her own hits, of which Teenager was the stand out.

Amy Shark

We were promised Amy Shark’s most ambitious live offering yet, and she didn’t disappoint with an elaborate lighting installation, pyrotechnics and confetti. Opener The Wolves was a suitably atmospheric and grandiose introduction. Followed by Everybody Rise, as it is on latest record Cry Forever, the seated dance floor may not have risen as intended but we’ll put it down to all the pretty flashing lights attracting eyes like moths to a flame.

All Loved Up felt like the night’s first major highlight, and the Jack Antonoff-produced hit was also the first tune taken from 2018 debut album Love Monster. C’mon was also an early standout, showcasing the all-new positive and happy Amy Shark.

Amy Shark

But let’s be honest. We all love angsty Amy and the night’s standouts were clearly when she dug deep into the darker parts of her psyche. “This song’s about my ex-boyfriend, do you wanna know what it’s called?” she asked before starting The Idiot. Earlier she’d admitted to being in an “intoxicated and mentally weak place” when she wrote All the Lies About Me, while Worst Day of My Life’s title speaks for itself – played on a miniature guitar, Shark showcased her musical chops (as she did on and off all night) and the crowd rewarded her with a “Happy Birthday” singalong at the end, ahead of her birthday the following day.

She saved her best (and funniest) anecdote for That Girl. Alluding to her own issues with mental health, Shark put it down to that time she was cheated on: instead of blaming her partner she fixated on the girl he was with (at least until friends — perhaps therapists — pointed out it takes two to tango). But she didn’t linger too long in the therapist’s chair, promising that if “that girl” was somewhere out there in the crowd, “I still fucking hate you,” and it was hilarious.

Amy Shark

We wanted the cray; we love the cray. The darker the better, whether it was the crowd shouting “I’m known as a right-hand slugger/ Anybody else wanna touch my lover?!” during Adore, or the pure emotion dripping from teary showstopper Amy Shark (yes, the song named after herself). Played solo alone at the end of a catwalk, the emo ballad par excellence about her M.I.A. birth father was a marvel live and is, quite simply, her best song.

Then there were the hits. “I’m just wondering,” Shark said before the last song of the main set,” if you’re ready to Mess Her Up?” and the pyros and crowd singalong brought everyone to their feet. Likewise the night’s finale I Said Hi came with a confetti shower and by this stage the entire arena was up and dancing. Earlier, a cover of The Killers’ Mr Brightside was nothing short of ecstatic, Shark’s wry jealousy adding extra venom to cult lyrics like “but she’s touching his chest…”

Amy Shark

It was hard for the older members of the audience not to liken Shark to a Gold Coast Alanis Morissette; with her flowing black mane and edgy attitude, it’s an easy comparison to make. But there’s something darker and cooler about Amy Shark, and there’s a reason she appeals to such a broad range of ages and tastes.

If at times it all feels as calculated as a Taylor Swift choreography piece, she makes up for it by sharing parts of herself that other artists would prefer to pretend don’t exist. Relatably grotesque yet perfectly lovely, Shark gives us permission to be completely fucked up and happier than ever, all at the same time.

HARVEY RAE

Photos by Linda Dunjey

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