Newtown Social Club, 23/03/17
With music comes movement.
In 1978, the world was hit with Kate Bush. Her debut single ‘Wuthering Heights’ was gripping, laced with an angelic falsetto and accompanied by an equally memorable dance. Bush’s first performance of the hit quickly became iconic as she swayed her hips and longingly reached out to the audience in a haze of organic choreography.
Similarly, when Joy Division’s leading man Ian Curtis broke out in a dance he referred to as “the dead fly”, people took notice. As he carelessly swung his arms around in fast, jittering motions, it was impossible to not feel what he was feeling.
What was so memorable about both of these acts was the way each performer took their song and made it visual. They let their bodies dictate their movement, bringing all kinds of emotion to the surface and creating a new way for fans to connect in a live setting. It may not have always been understood – but it didn’t need to be. It was art. And when an artist finds that way to balance unique performance, without compromising sound quality, you know they’re destined to be one of the greats. This is what Bec Sandridge does.
The Wollongong singer-songwriter powered onto the stage of Newtown Social Club last night like a woman on a mission. Armed with a guitar and a determined look on her face, the set had full throttle energy right from the first note of ‘Eyes Wide’, and would eventually turn into one of the most vibrant performances Sydney has seen lately.
Much like the greats I mentioned earlier, Sandridge too has her memorable quirks that were apparent from the get-go. Her eccentric stage presence was characterised from subtle head nods when reaching the crux of a song to the less subtle 80s guitar stance. The second song of the night, ‘See Doubt’, saw the headliner almost prowling across the stage, staring directly into the crowd as she sang. There wasn’t a single person in the sold out room that wasn’t completely enthralled and empowered just watching her.
The next few songs were a blur of lights, shredding guitar solos and bleached blond hair as ‘High Tide’ and ‘You’re A Fucking Joke’ had bodies shimmying all over the floor. She also stopped briefly to pop in a few personal stories and prove she is a human and not just a scarily talented robot, dedicating a conceptual clapping album to the fans in the front and confessing going to Scotland for a lover only to have them be in a relationship.
Sandridge flexed her diversity throughout the set, slowing things down for ‘I Keep Running Back’ – a heartfelt song that showed off her rich vocal chops and was vastly underappreciated by the loud people at the bar – before ramping the atmosphere up again in ‘The Great Divide.’ This new number was bouncy, full of thick guitars and bleached summery riffs that effortlessly filled the room.
“As you know, we did a cover a little while ago that people really hate.. which is really cool because there’s no dickheads at my show!” a slightly nervous Sandridge explained before launching into the polarising Like A Version cover of John Farnham’s classic ‘You’re The Voice.’ Without going into it too much, all I’ll say is it was a beautiful and deeply creative interpretation met with rousing applause straight after the final note fell.
The night came to a close with ‘Into The Fog, Into The Flame,’ an obvious fan favourite that saw Sandridge jump right back into her glam rock routine, darting across the stage with conviction and passion. Nothing was overwrought and nothing was cheesy, yet everything across the night had been injected with theatre. People don’t necessarily always understand Sandridge, the way she moves and sounds, but the people who do are continuously in for a treat.
When Kate Bush sang of desperation and longing for her love, red dress billowing with each movement, she had no idea it would become so iconic. She just allowed herself to feel what she was feeling and keep it at that. Carrying these same humble qualities, Bec Sandridge probably has no idea how quickly she can skyrocket in the next year but I’m excited to watch it happen.
Debbie Carr has been flitting around in music for a few years now interning, contributing and freelancing for some of Australia's most promising music & arts publications. You'll most likely find her reviewing local gigs, snapping you at a festival or trawling through the depths of soundcloud. She's probably seen your band play. Twitter: @debbieecarr Instagram: @debbie_carr Website: www.debbiecarrmedia.comView all posts by Debbie Carr