TENDER IS THE NIGHT @ Melville Main Hall gets 10/10

Tender is the Night
ft. Simone & Girlfunkle @ Melville Main Hall

w/ Tanaya Harper
Sunday, September 12, 2021


Have you ever been to a gig so beautiful you could cry? To quote a friend “That’s it, pack up everyone, we’ve seen perfection.”

For those unfamiliar, Tender is the Night is a gig series where local artists hand over their songs to be arranged to include a string quartet. The transformation of these songs is simply stunning and this is truly a gig experience unlike any other.

Tanaya Harper

Tonight, Tanaya Harper returned to the stage to reprise her Tender is the Night set of last year. A change from her previous backyard performance, this time we were in the belly of the Melville City Hall. A little out of the way (and hard to find), inside this unassuming building is an acoustic gem, with wooden panelling and high ceilings. People were lounging on cushions and rugs, making themselves comfortable and enjoying picnics while up the front Harper bewitched them with goosebump-inducing songs.

Her voice is an elixir, and hearing Graceless with a string quartet was incredible, as was Slow Motion Breakup. She also performed her new single Montreal, comparing it to a Cigarettes After Sex song, saying she needed to double check she hadn’t plagiarised them, which is honestly selling herself short. Her identity as an artist is powerful in its own right. Why she is not already stupidly famous is a mystery.

Simone and Girlfunkle

It’s been a little while since we’ve had the pleasure of seeing Simone & Girlfunkle play, but as soon as they entered stage left, the audience was reminded why they have been a firm favourite in Perth music for nearly a decade. Tonight was bittersweet though, as it would be Sarah Tout’s last gig with the group.

Leigh Gardiner, event organiser and MC on the night, let the crowd know that not only was this the band’s first time performing with a string quartet, but the first time playing with them at all! There had been no rehearsal, and we were encouraged to “go easy” on them. This explanation proved unnecessary though as they delivered a flawless show.

Simone and Girlfunkle

Kicking off in trio mode, Bridget Turner, Heather Bex and Sarah Tout, opened with Blown Into The Wind. Each of these women is a stunning singer individually, so when they join together in joyful three part harmony magic happens. Armed with an acoustic guitar, a clarinet, and backed by the string quartet, they traversed through their catalogue of folk-driven pop songs. Venus was lent a distinctly French bent with the addition of the strings, and allowed Bex to showcase her woodwind virtuosity, as did Seaside, and Cassanova, which Tout proclaimed has a “sick clarinet solo” – a sentence surely never said before!

Simone and Girlfunkle

All conversations had lulled and the crowd were absolutely enthralled. Simone & Girlfunkle, beloved not just for their music, have a very endearing stage presence. Clearly overwhelmed with emotion, as some of the audience were, Turner said she too felt this was a truly exceptional gig, “this is such a special experience, I feel like I’m floating!” The trio were then joined by guitarists Daniel Grant and Vaughan Davies for a couple of songs, including Otter, a song about finding hope in a hopeless time which feels incredibly relevant.

Simone and Girlfunkle

The haunting harmonies of Tide, followed by the whimsy of Summer Rain, rounded out the dreamy set. “The strings bring out all the feels” announced an overwhelmed Turner, as we watched the group say goodbye to Tout with a group hug to rapturous applause. The crowd sailed into the night with a full heart, albeit a little bit broken by Tout’s departure. There is one question that remains though, who will write out their setlists now she’s gone?


Photos by Adrian Thomson

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