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Live Review: Gordi w/ Daggy Man & Xavier Dunn @ Black Bear Lodge

It can be a challenge to draw a crowd on a mid-winter Wednesday night, but thankfully, Gordi is up to the task. The Canowindra country girl treated her largest Brisbane crowd yet to an intimate performance of her growing collection of hits that left everyone “Wanting” more.

A dramatic arrangement of light bulbs around the stage made for an intriguing visual accompaniment to opening support Daggy Man a.k.a. Thomas Calder. Boasting a rare combination of Hein Cooper’s emotive musical presence, Conrad Sewell’s denim-heavy street style and James Bay’s vocals, Calder had no trouble drawing the crowd in.

Each track was enticing and unassuming, emotional edges softened by the security of his complete artistic control. His delicate sound matched wistful glances towards the ceiling and somehow balanced his endearingly awkward commentary: “I find that when you’ve got nothing to say, repeating the same thing over and over is a good thing because it makes people think that you’re an idiot”.

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After a brief intermission, Xavier Dunn took to the stage, impressive even in soundcheck – a one-man-band wrapping Ed Sheeran’s charisma in a smooth synth touch. Kicking off with a cover of ASAP Rocky’s Fuckin’ Problems, his confidence got the crowd on board, but it was his exceptionally pure falsetto, reminiscent of Bon Iver’s sparse style, that had them hooked. As he moved through the set, fitting his most popular singles Straight On Till Morning and Scattered amongst impressively original covers, the crowd gathered closer to the stage.

Dunn’s performance was a memorable one, not only because of his vocal and instrumental control, but also thanks to the energy he threw into every moment. His set showed impressive vulnerability, speckled with acapella moments, and yet he looked unfazed by it all. Jumping from the guitar to an energetic synthesiser melody as he flicked his topknot back and forth, Dunn contrasted a collection of soft ballads with perfectly-placed bursts of energy.

When it was Gordi’s turn to brave the offensively bright stage lights, she appeared to the delighted squeals of the packed crowd, launching into the set without hesitation. Her voice was measured and controlled, but the passion showed through her facial expressions as she squeezed her eyes shut. Despite a few technical challenges, she faced the crowd with confidence for second track Taken Blame, channeling every ounce of concentration she had into the intricate guitar rhythms.

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Filling the silences between songs with banter about bircher muesli and her baby niece, Gordi had Brisbane eating out of the palm of her hand. She pulled off the subtle nuances of Nothing’s As It Seems and So Here We Are with ease, the sound indistinguishable from the recordings, and the crowd swayed in appreciation.

Throughout the set Gordi proved herself a woman of many talents, looking just as comfortable with her acoustic as she was with the electric guitar, piano, and synthesisers, and only that level of comfort could have allowed for such an intimate performance of Something Like This. An almost tearful edge in her voice set a hush over the room, making a simple piano and vocal combination into one of the night’s most memorable moments.

Even in the midst of blasting instrumentation, Gordi owned the stage through Wanting, looking like she was in her own world. The crowd sang out louder than ever, loving the sound of the familiar words filling the room, and from there things built to a peak with Can We Work It Out. Piercing the eardrums as well as the heart, the song drew tears from some and joyful dancing from others.

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Finishing with an unforgettable encore rendition of her Courtney Barnett cover Avant Gardener, Gordi owned the room until the very end. She stared vacantly into the crowd, radiating emotion and yet looking as comfortable as ever. Even when she momentarily forgot the words, she managed to laugh it off with a candid smile, flippantly admitting, “I didn’t write it.”

When it comes down to it, every moment of Gordi’s live performance is branded with her name, regardless of whether or not the words she chooses to sing are her own.

Check out our Photo Gallery from Gordi’s Black Bear Lodge show HERE

Read our interview with Gordi HERE

Written by Jess Martyn