STELLA DONNELLY @ B Shed gets 8.5/10

Stella Donnelly @ B Shed
w/ Alexia Parenzee
Friday, February 18, 2022


Perth’s smiling assassin Stella Donnelly packed the B Shed on Friday, leaving us all feeling a little wicked. And not just with her stellar sense of humour; simply being part of a buzzing crowd felt naughty given the day’s huge spike in COVID numbers.

Donnelly read the mood, too, declaring early on to her band mate George Foster, “You’re the Omnicron variant, George, we can’t keep you away,” as her multi-instrumentalist and frequent collaborator made his way on and off the stage.

Stella Donnelly

Foster was her band’s only occasional fixture in the set’s first half, which saw Donnelly perform mostly solo renditions of some of her biggest tunes. Mechanical Bull sent chills second track in, the crowd singing along despite this early single not even appearing on her debut (and still only) album Beware of the Dogs. The 2019 record’s title track was also completely stunning just two tracks later, as Donnelly belted out the finale, flexing how incredible her voice is in full flight.

Stella Donnelly

You could’ve heard a pin drop during Boys Will Be Boys, which rarely fails to bring a tear to the eye. Then, in typical fashion, Donnelly juxtaposed her most gut-wrenching tune with one of her funniest. Mosquito, something of an ode to vibrators, drew a giggle with her customary “Sorry Mum… again,” for its masturbation-themed lyrics. It may not be her biggest tune, but the cheeky love song is certainly among her most subversive and clever.

Stella Donnelly

It’s been a while between singles for Donnelly, but something that’s still fresh is getting to see her with a band. The set’s second half changed the pace with a singalong to Old Man, which started to get people dancing. A highlight of Lunch was the fancy shout-along backing vocals from her band (which included Methyl Ethel drummer Chris Wright for this special occasion). Season’s Greetings’ harmonica solo was also a winner, and the lyrics make you want to shout out, “Take that, Uncle Fuckwit!” at the end, such is its savage takedown of family politics.

Die is a song for our times, with its refrain “I don’t wanna die!” repeated over and over, and it was made even better by the hilarious choreography including jogging on the spot and aerobics. Funny, because it feels like we’ve all been running from COVID for such a long time in WA; sadly COVID caught us up. The momentum continued into Tricks finishing up the main set with celebratory dancing and singalongs about Southern Cross tattoos.

Stella Donnelly

The opportunity to catch new songs Underwater, Flood and Raffles was certainly appreciated by hardcore fans – the latter the pick of the bunch, an unexpected duet with Foster that dropped many a jaw. And no one enjoyed the crowd’s appreciation of how perfect a foil Foster was for her voice than Donnelly herself. Her stop-start Like a Version cover of Love is in the Air was less successful, however, always threatening to take off and get us dancing, but instead trading the original’s disco feels for peaks that kept dropping the beat.

Alexia Paranzee

Perhaps ironically then, the night’s ultimate highlight came with another cover. Support act Alexia Parenzee had impressed early on with her magnetic stage presence and slick soul vibes, including last year’s debut single Creed and Colour. So it was a pleasure seeing her return to the stage for Donnelly’s encore, and the joy of hearing their voices intertwine on a cover of Cyndi Lauper classic Time After Time was nothing short of intoxicating. Sure, Parenzee’s microphone could have been (much) louder, but nothing could take away from this spine-tingling moment featuring two of Perth’s finest voices.

Alexia Paranzee

It was the ultimate peak on a night full of them. Perfectly balanced between intimacy and rocking out, it was enough to help us forget the unease of the outside world for a moment and party like it was 2019.


Photos by Linda Dunjey


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