Music Review: Sarah Blasko
Music Review: Sarah Blasko

Sarah Blasko, The Bank Holidays

Friday, November 13 The Quarry Amphitheatre

Never has an artist created such glorious noise exploring her own uncertainty. The recent output of Sydney songstress Sarah Blasko offers such soul-searching songs as All I Want ("When I don't even know myself"), Is My Baby Yours? and (Explain) - as in "It's something I can't even explain".

The latter gorgeous song from Blasko's 2007 album What the Sea Wants, the Sea Will Have, completed an extraordinary two-hour performance to open the Quarry Amphitheatre's 2009-10 season.

It was the second of four sold-out shows at the Quarry from the 33-year-old songstress who has quietly combined critical worship with platinum sales and a live show that has slowly blossomed from tightly wound, self-conscious outings to the comparative theatrical explosion we witnessed on Friday night.

After a winsome set from Perth's own Bank Holidays, some audio from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory heralded the arrival of Blasko and her six-piece backing band. This visit follows the release of her third album, As Day Follows Night, a stripped-back and mostly acoustic affair that was made flesh with the help of strings, double bass, banjo, a drummer and percussionist, plus Dave Hunt on two banks of keyboards.

The beauty of the music - cinematic songs such as All I Want, the sultry Bird on a Wire and album/show opener Down on Love - was matched in presentation. Wearing a white dress with puffy sleeves that concealed colourful plumage, Blasko stood on a podium surrounded by oyster lights conducting her band on the big stage surrounded by trees and limestone walls.

The marimba loops (played on the keys by Hunt) of Over & Over, with the Talking Heads outro, and the piano stomp of No Turning Back were highlights, as was the main set finale of two movie tunes.

Blasko studied film and literature at university, so it was apt that she covered both "brows", taking the high road first with the big-band number Seems Like Old Times, sung by Diane Keaton in Woody Allen's Annie Hall, then aiming lower with Olivia Newton-John's Xanadu from the 1980 movie of the same name. She sang this with minimal accompaniment from Hunt on piano, and her breathy, soaring vocals somehow transformed this daggy tune into something special.

While the main set explored As Day Follows Night, Blasko (now in a tight blue dress) dipped into her previous two albums for 2004 radio single Always Worth It and a final run of three songs from Sea, peaking on the almost bubbly indie-pop of Planet New Year.

After the sumptuous (Explain), Blasko and her band lined up across the Quarry stage to farewell their fans with some appropriately theatrical bows.

Following her career has been its own reward, but the thrill of seeing the Sydneysider in full bloom is something I can barely convey.

The West Australian

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