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MIDDLE KIDS @ Astor Theatre gets 8.5/10


Middle Kids @ The Astor Theatre

w/ Didirri
Thursday, November 7, 2019

8.5/10

It’s a rare treat to leave a gig feeling the lingering glow of a performer. It’s a feat few artists achieve, but Hannah Joy of Middle Kids is one such talent. Not many women would be able to pull off a rocking gig when they are midway through a pregnancy, all while juggling an upside-down left-handed guitar. But that’s just what Joy did.

The Sydneysiders are amassing a solid and faithful indie following, having played packed out sets at Laneway Festival and Freo.Social earlier this year. The trio (now four on tour) returned to Perth on Thursday night on the back of their latest release, mini-album New Songs For Old Problems (2019).

A sold out crowd of eager 20 and 30 somethings sang along to every word of favourites from 2018’s Lost Friends LP from On My Knees to Tell Me Something, while the new material, Salt Eyes and Real Thing especially, was emotionally recited over the hour-plus headline set.

Didirri

Things got off to a quiet start with a simple acoustic opener, as singer-songwriter Didirri (aka Didi) from Melbourne, posed unaccompanied on the large Astor stage. With a vocal range somewhere between the reach of Jeff Buckley and Rex Orange County, his soulful voice needed nothing more than a guitar or piano to guide the folky melodies. Starting off in chronological order with 2016 track Randy Scouse Git, he made his way through a delicate catalogue of heart-felt ballads taken from the Measurements EP (2017), including Bird Songs, Blind You, Worth the Wait, Blue Mood Rising and Jude. Making the most of his time to engage with the Perth kids, each track was introduced with quickwitted anecdotes and explanations for context.

However, as the crowd piled in for the main event, the noise in the hall gradually rose, drowning out the solo singer on stage. Not one to lose his audience, Didirri urged them to quieten down and respect those at the front, who swayed and sang along, entwined and enthralled. Not everyone connected with Didirri’s style of entertainment – and perhaps a solo artist playing 40 minutes to a sold out room chomping at the bit for a big rock act isn’t great programming – but those that did were suitably impressed and appreciative. As Didi said, “Music is for moving people or making people move”.

Middle Kids

Middle Kids‘ entrance could not have been more different. Coming out big in a sea of blue haze and flashing beams of light, opener Mistake was a thunderous start that instantly pulled the crowd along with them.

Set amongst ombre hues that at times flooded the stage leaving Joy the only thing visible, it was quite a sight. But the band maintained their connection, with sporadic banter between bassist Tim Fitz and drummer Harry Day, quips about sandgropers, and a few sly digs from Joy aimed at her husband Fitz’s past life as a slap bassist. During Your Love she joked, “Kids if you want to make love, you’re going to end up like this,” pointing to her pregnancy.

Middle Kids

The delightful alt-country twang of earlier works like Never Start and Don’t Be Hiding were juxtaposed with the dreamy-pop sounds from this year’s release – Big Softy, Beliefs & Prayers, and previously unplayed Call Me Snowflake – the new material sounding fuller and more complex.

The set mellowed briefly during Maryland, then the spotlight focussed on Joy solo for Doing It Right, as she commanded the crowd accompanied only by her piano. Not dwelling too long in the quiet, Bought It built in energy and snapped the audience out of their dream state, culminating in a huge light show, Joy remarking, “How good is music?” in acknowledgement.

Middle Kids

The show only suffered a minor loss in attention after the big singalong to Don’t Be Hiding, as they closed the main set with Call Me Snowflake, Please and Big Softy – although the goodwill bought to that point ensured the glow continued throughout.

Saving the best till last, a short encore closed proceedings. In thanking everyone for a special night, the band rewarded the faithful with the song that started it all, calling voices to lift in unison for closer, Edge of Town. It was an epic finish that left the departing crowds satisfied and on a high. In one word: wow.

Q

Photos by Cam Campbell

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