Scala – September 11th
Queuing up outside Scala on Friday night for all I knew I could have been in the middle of Melbourne, not a bustling Kings Cross. Australian accents pervaded the air, although when I pointed out that I assumed the whole crowd were expats still in touch with the Australian indie scene, I was met by a few disgruntled Brits, evidently proud they’d discovered Kate Miller-Heidke. The Brisbane singer-songwriter; operatically trained but having moved into indie-pop, was in town on the back of her fifth studio album, O Vertigo. And for an hour, she transported the intimate crowd, imparting on us her strength, resilience, humility and downright hilarity – not to mention looking ethereal in a huge flowery headdress and the most beautiful sequinned black dress you ever did see.
Opening with ‘The Devil Wears A Suit’ from her previous record Nightflight, Kate’s voice hit like a huge wave from the very first second. When you see her live, there’s a depth in her voice that exceeds all her recordings – her falsetto is stunning but equally complemented by a strong and confident lower register. Technically, it’s just hard to flaw the 32 year-old when every second note sends a shiver down your spine.
Moving through a brilliant mix of new tracks and older material that garnered a huge amount of success in Australia (really, why is she only just breaking into the UK scene?!), Kate and her guitarist/collaborator/husband Keir Nuttall work brilliantly together, creating an atmosphere that made the gig seem like a gathering of friends. “It’s like Enya on crystal meth; and that’s exactly the sound I’ve been going for” laughed Miller-Heidke, when speaking of her new album.
As well as serious songs, ones that give you this bizarre sense of pride and strength to watch, Miller-Heidke’s set – as usual – was full of brilliantly funny moments. Her Facebook song (official title ‘Are You Fucking Kidding Me’) – “And I don’t give a shit what your stripper name is, or if your kitty had a litter, look – just follow me on Twitter” had the crowd in stitches, and her cover of Eminem’s ‘The Real Slim Shady’ sung in the most bizarrely interesting falsetto with an operatic twist was a testament to her versatility – is there anything she can’t do?
One thing’s for sure, the real Kate Miller-Heidke is definitely standing up – she’s so much more than a singer-songwriter. I suspect that her theatrical background is what gives her that inimitable stage presence; whatever it is, she’s doing it right.