With it’s surprise open-air band room and welcoming atmosphere, this otherwise unassuming rock pub is the perfect setting for the first of these honest, no-frills performances.
It’s a familiar vision; a barefoot Adalita – eyes cast downwards, intensely engrossed in her music, amber lights and deep shadows playing greedily about the landscape of those razor-sharp cheekbones. Whether backed by a band or on her own, she’s always been able to captivate a room with minimal fuss. She’s been doing this for over 20 years and when the guitar is down, that same voice has been put to good use off stage as well, namely for animal rights causes. The absence of any attempt to address or woo us with small talk is therefore just fine. This small audience knows what she’s about and a respectful silence is the appropriate response.
She opens with Invite Me, filling the room with poignant guitar that hangs gruffly in the air after each poetic stanza. It’s a piece reminiscent of early Nick Cave ballads whilst a lot of the set tonight will feature almost shoegazey wall-of-noise characteristics. How she manages to achieve this big sound all on her own is part of the magic. Her voice is all at once fierce and tender, diving low and soaring high with an enviable ease as she tells stories that are plaintive and frank. During one engrossing guitar solo, she retreats into the safety of shadows at the back of the stage, pouring her whole body over her instrument in that way she does and I’ll admit to getting a little teary at the intensity of it all…
Roughly six songs in, after the soon-to-be-released Private Feeling, Adalita greets us. She thanks us for coming out on a Wednesday and says hi to Benny from Adelaide who has caught her eye in the crwod along with other friends up in the mezzanine. As a prelude to the next song, she says “this is the only night of the residency I’m going to do this one. I hope I get it right, my brain’s fried! Lexi’s telling me to shut the fuck up. Let’s do it”. It’s the most spine-tinglingly dark version of Madonna’s Burning Up and it puts a completely different spin on the track’s original sentiments.
But it’s set wrap-up, Blue Sky (“Gonna run like a dream and split from the team and tell everybody what a motherfucker you’ve been”) that I’ve really been waiting for. It’s the perfect angsty closure, augmented nicely with a very well received cover of Billy Field’s You Weren’t In Love With Me that follows as an encore.
Even if Adalita’s already an artist you hold dear, seeing her in this intimate setting is an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.
Get to the Gasometer on Wednesdays for the month of March to see for yourself.