Tuesday 28th June 2022
BMEC, Bathurst NSW
Support: Adam Newling
Why would you get a 45yo boomer metalhead with a serious case of dad bod to review an Amy Shark live performance? Let’s begin.
Bathurst, NSW in June is disgusting. It’s cold, wet, dark and miserable. Everything in this town hits freezing point but the pretty white snow refuses to turn up. The sun shows up on occasion but it’s only for show because there’s no heat coming from that big bright bastard. No. The Bathurst winter is a horrible beast but for some ungodly reason, Amy Shark chose this time of year to grace our glorious town. Maybe it’s because she can just leave her drink out on the lawn and it won’t go warm on her. Drink it quick though Aims, your beer might freeze in this weather.
Turns out that the brave and wise Mrs. Shark is in the midst of spearheading a series of regional Australian shows that sees her putting a few kms on her trusty Volvo’s odometer whilst bearing witness to some of Australia’s finest countryside. It also means she’s on a mission to visit some of her most distant fans including the very lucky townsfolk of Bafferst who get to see this brilliant artist in their hometown.
Now I’m a huge, HUGE FAN, of old-boy heavy metal, and with an immeasurable amount of respect, Amy Shark is not any of that. Tonight’s gig is so far removed from what I’m used to attending that I’m fearful of what may transpire tonight. I’ve been in Walls of Death and felt safer.
The last gig I went to in town was Red Bee and Terra Mortem at The Farmers Arms and it was a strictly 18+ adults only affair. This show, well, it’s all ages and held at the very respectful and intimate 642-seat BMEC (a far cry from her recent gig at the 14,500 seated Rod Laver Arena). Now when I say all ages, I’m talking 5-year-olds to mid-70s. Some of these folk have doilies older than Amy. So in order to feel safe in this all-friendly indie-pop environment, I’ve brought along my 12-year-old niece Ayla for her first-ever concert experience.
I’m not the oldest bloke here thank Lemmy. There’s a bloke sitting two rows back that easily has ten years on me and I’d love to see you try and wipe the great big filth-eating grin he is sporting as he hangs out with his excitable grandson. An Amy Shark concert in Bathurst, as it turns out, is a family affair and as a result, there’s a lot of love in this room. Most of it is aimed at Amy though. Every second person is in possession of at least one item of her merch and I’ve lost count of the number of people that have done their hair in the same fashion as Sharky’s infamous messy bun.
The lights dim and support act Adam Newling walks out with a guitar, his harmonica and the shiniest pair of shoes in the room. He name drops Bathurst and gets a few wolf whistles in reply. Adam tells us he spent the day having a picnic on the bends up on the famous Mount Panorama race track. By “Picnic” he means he “punched some durries and had a couple of tinnies”. Haven’t we all. The bloke is a hell of a storyteller in the same vein as Paul Kelly and at times Tom Waits. His delivery is uniquely Australian and it’s fair to say I’ve never heard anyone with a voice like his before. Newling will make you laugh with one line and cry with the next. He kickstarts proceedings with a song about his old man, followed by ‘Morning Breath’, a tune about the filthiest of hangovers, ‘Leather Face’, a ditty about his sun-drenched ex-missus, before singing a song about the floods in Murwillumbah. My highlight though was the beautiful ’Singing Blackbird’, a number that Amy later says she is obsessed with. A funny bloke, great to watch and a hit at the merch table during the break.
Lining up for a drink at halftime and I see a young girl with a smile you can’t even begin to hide stare up at her dad, and he’s her hero. He looks like he could wrestle a bull with a gutful of rum while listening to AC/DC at high volume, but tonight he’s been dragged to Amy Shark by a 7-year-old girl and he didn’t stand a chance. The curtain goes up and Amy’s name is smeared across the stage in what looks to me like Def Leppard lettering and as a bloke that grew up on late 80’s hair metal, it looks killer. This is Sharky’s first-ever show in Bathurst and she’s only gone and sold it out. You’d think the Bathurst mob had waited their whole lives to see her, but when the legend jumps out on stage, not one person stands up. It’s a decent smattering of applause but it’s like everyone is saving themselves for work tomorrow. They’re not entirely missing though. While belting out opener ‘All Loved Up’ the crowd rips in and sings the song back to her. I look down and the doorman is loving it. As one of the few people on his feet, he’s not afraid to break out into a dance. His little corner becomes a gathering point for the few die-hards that aren’t having any of this sitting-down business.
Let it be said that Amy Shark can bloody sing. There’s an immeasurable amount of emotion in the woman’s voice and her music sounds incredible live. Between songs, she brags that she’s got the best band in the world and while they’re no Metallica, their delivery on stage is inch-perfect. I’m a sucker for killer drum solos and the legend up the back throws a few in for good measure.
The few times that I’d previously listened to this music, I’d never envisioned that this performance as a high energy affair, but I’ll stand up and say, I was wrong. Amy throws herself around the stage with a measured elegance whilst pulling out some of the coolest Native American-styled stomping that’d make the laziest pendant want to get up and join in.
Except in Bathurst. We’re a sittin’ town…
The Shark Show goes on though. Amy endeavours to break us down and pick us up again as she rips through ‘Miss You’ before grabbing her guitar for ‘Idiot’. Sharky is no Satchel from Steel Panther but she can definitely play and makes it look easy. Whether it’s just her and a guitar or the full band, Amy’s performance is captivating and I sort of get why a few of the young lassies in the crowd are screaming like it’s Beatlemania. Incidentally, I’ve never in my life heard so many songs about bad breakups and horrible exes. Maybe write a song about the coldest town in Australia that is filled with people that won’t get up and dance in a bid to warm up…
The band rip into ‘Blood Brothers‘ and a gang of screaming girls let out a collective wail so haunting I half expected one of them to go full Regan from The Exorcist.
The between-song banter is brilliant and definitely suits this regional crowd. The best reactions of the night come from tales told by both Adam and Amy. They both apologise for the adult level of content given the number of young kids in the crowd. But if your gunna learn a few bad words it may as well be from Aunty Amy.
I look down at the doorman’s corner and there’s a small crowd gathering, including a young lady anchored at the base of the stage singing every damned word. This is the most I’ve ever heard Amy Shark‘s music and I think she’s great, but to the young lady clenching a bunch of flowers for the artist she loves the most, that music is everything.
The rest of the show is killer. I’ll say this without spoiling it for those that are gunna see her, but her name-dropping yarns about Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker of blink 182, Ed Sheeran and Keith Urban and the respective songs she wrote with them are highlights for me. Plus her cover of ‘Mr Brightside’ would get any other crowd in the world doing laps of the theatre. A fake encore and a handful of her hugest songs ever round out the night and the band exit to rousing applause. No standing ovation though. The lights come on and for the first time tonight the whole crowd are in their feet.
Now it’s a Tuesday night and this ain’t a metal show, but that’s no excuse for the crowd to remain planted firmly on their arses for the duration of the show. Look, I wasn’t expecting the furniture to be torn up in the throes of a raging mosh pit but this crowd was so quiet that there are moments you could hear a mouse fart. Amy even jokes at one point that she doesn’t need the microphone. Not that the audience aren’t grateful. Every person on show is grinning ear to ear, the applause between songs is loud and after the gig, everyone outside said that the whole night was brilliant. But it had to have been unnerving for the performers. Almost like staring at a crowd of stationary grinning loons afraid to move for fear of retribution from the gods of dancing badly.
So to the rest of the regional towns. Stand up FFS. You’re lucky to have a performer of this calibre in your hometown. Make these people want to come back.
And to Amy Shark, thanks for visiting our freezing bloody cold town at its absolute chilliest. The show was unreal and my niece absolutely loved it. I remember my first ever live show (Johnny Diesel supported by The Angels; 1990 Easter Show) and it stuck with me forever, as I’m sure it’ll stick with her and all the other young people that rolled up tonight. But most of all, thanks for not leaving out regional Australia when putting together your touring plans. Hopefully more acts follow suit.
Now I’m going home to listen to some Slayer. Peace.
Amy Shark‘s mammoth 60-date See You Somewhere Tour continues…
Tickets via amyshark.com