International Women’s Day in Canberra started out with sunshine but by late afternoon it had given way to rainy grey skies.
Despite the rain, a respectable crowd turned out at the Canberra Theatre Centre for the first-ever International Women’s Day concert.
Headlined by supergroup Seeker Lover Keeper, the concert was an interesting experiment in genre, with Kaiit’s soulful R&B, Moaning Lisa’s grunge rock and Shoeb Ahmad’s experimental indie all very distinct from each other, and from Seeker Lover Keeper’s harmonious indie rock.
Shoeb Ahmad, sans band, opened the night with a darkly lush, electronic, experimental offering. The new tracks were intriguing, but didn’t quite seem to resonate with the audience.
Canberra grunge rockers and self-described token gay band Moaning Lisa seemed a little out of their comfort zone on taking the stage, with lead singer Charlie even cracking a joke about their usual venues being dive bars. It’s true that the Playhouse’s seated setup doesn’t really lend itself to Moaning Lisa’s high energy show; their music is much more at home in a sweaty moshpit.
They put on a great show all the same, particularly guitarist Ellen and drummer Hayden who never miss a beat. But there were nerves, which were most noticeable in the vocals. They were less self-possessed and slightly more wobbly than usual. It took until ‘Carrie (I Want A Girl)’ for them to really settle into the occasion and deliver that heartfelt, unaffected, unself-conscious rock they do so well.
Fresh off an ARIA win for best soul/R&B release for her single ‘Miss Shiney’, Kaiit was a revelation, proving that sometimes simple is best. Eschewing the bells and whistles in favour of a completely acoustic setup, her impeccable vocals were complemented by an acoustic guitar and minimalist backup harmonies.
When she wasn’t singing, Kaiit was charming the audience with anecdotes, including of her visit to Papua New Guinea, where she was born. It was a gorgeous performance from the young, very talented neo-soul singer, and I’m excited to see what she gets up to next.
Finally, after two intervals, Seeker Lover Keeper played. The beloved supergroup, made up of Holly Throsby, Sally Seltmann and Sarah Blasko, released their first album in eight years last year, and their set featured plenty of their new tracks from Wild Seeds as well as older hits from their 2011 self-titled debut.
Despite the long break between albums, Seeker Lover Keeper looked completely at home on stage. Their harmonies felt effortless, and there wasn’t a misstep or mistake in their set, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. Each member is a formidable performer in their own right, but together they absolutely light up the room.
The indie royalty capped off a wonderful night of women making music. While I went in a little sceptical, and felt a little genre whiplash at times, ultimately I did appreciate the bold choices. The Canberra Theatre Centre has shown that it is prepared to take chances with its programming. I’m excited to see what’s next.