It’s not often that an Australian country artist successfully cracks the American and pop market but after years of persistence Morgan Evans has finally made it happen. With ‘Kiss Somebody’ currently comfortably sitting at the top of the charts the singer-songwriter has returned home for a massive run of sold out shows. The line outside The Tivoli looped around the block as the Brisbane crowd eagerly awaited the final date of his brief East Coast tour. As the doors opened the crowd ran inside the theatre and grabbed a drink and a good viewing spot for this very intimate and special show.
Taking care of the support act duties for the night was Ireland newcomer Catherine McGrath. For the release of her debut album ‘Talk Of This Town’ she has channeled the pop polished country sound with a vulnerable and honest delivery which has sparked global recognition. The album explores the fear of growing up, falling in love, having your heart broken and the art of being strong in moments where you don’t feel it. And Her honest storytelling was perfectly showcased in her thirty minute set from the opener ‘Hell Would Have To Freeze Over’ right through crowd favourites ‘Just In Case’, ‘Lost In The Middle’ and Enough For You’. In between songs she gushed over how Brisbane has become her favourite city in Australia and how she finally met a kangaroo earlier that day. She was genuinely appreciative to be there performing to a room full of people and you could tell just how much it meant to her by the giant smile on her face. As her and her guitarist powered through the intimate acoustic set she took a moment to explain the unfortunate story behind ‘Wild’. She elaborated on how this guy she had a crush on asked her on a date to a Coldplay concert which he was meant to go with his ex girlfriend. But she had hope that it would go smoothly but instead the whole time he was holding her hand and texting his ex on the other. The whole crowd booed in support and swayed along to the slightly heartbreaking and reflective track. She closed her set with the title track ‘Talk Of This Town’ and had successfully won over a room full of passionate fans awaiting their homegrown favourite.
As the lights dimmed and Morgan Evans walked out to an empty stage there were a lot of burning questions surrounding what was about to happen. In the past he has always been known to deliver a pretty electrifying live show with a full live band but instead for this tour he was about to do something a little different. Stripping it back completely he decided to give his long term Australian fans what they deserved and that was an intimate and special show that would premiere new music and see him taking a trip down memory lane. Kicking the show off with his recent single ‘Day Drunk’ he introduced his loop pedal to the crowd and explained how he would be recording all the sounds live and mashing them together to build the big sound. “Just so you know, if I make a mistake it will keep happening over and over again” he joked. ‘American’ and ‘I Do’ quickly followed which he dedicated to his wife and fellow Country superstar Kelsea Ballerini who he actually met in Brisbane for the first time 2 and a half years ago. As the crowd passionately sung along he confessed “I know I’m only 3 songs in but this is quickly becoming my favourite show”. And it was a justified comment as you looked around and could see everyone smiling from ear to ear and passionately singing to every word.
His second studio album ‘Things That We Drink To’ will be released on October 12 and he explained to the crowd how extensive the writing process was for this record. This meant that there were a lot of songs left on the cutting room floor. And he ended up giving one of them to Dylan Scott called ‘Hooked’ which is currently sitting at number 5 on the US charts. So he treated the crowd to a performance of his version of the song followed by a little trip down memory lane. A mash up of ‘Big Skies’, ‘Live Each Day’, ‘Like A Tornado’ and ‘While We’re Young’ heard him reminiscing about his debut album and early EP’s as well as confessing it wasn’t the first time he’s played at The Tivoli. He excitingly admitted that he once opened for Taylor Swift at the same venue in 2009 before covering his favourite Australian pub-rock songs ‘Horses’ and ‘You’re The Voice’.
He continued the candid and intimate show with the title track from his new album that he dedicated to his old manager who passed away last year. Fellow new track ‘Everything Changes’ followed before he performed his global smash ‘Kiss Somebody’. Thanking the crowd for selling out the gig on a Sunday night he closed the show with ‘Young Again’. He brought Catherine McGrath back out on stage for the final half of the song where they playfully mashed in ‘500 Miles’ and ‘Shut Up And Dance’. As he walked off stage the crowd started chanting for one more and he obliged. He confessed that he doesn’t usually do encores and admitted that it may be a little rusty but he gave the crowd a nice little rendition of Tom Petty’s ‘I won’t Back Down’ before saying good night one final time.
As the house lights turned on and everyone started to file out of the sold out theatre the common comment was just how intimate and captivating the show was. With only him on stage there was a lot of room for error and a lot of opportunity for moments to be a little boring but he managed to deliver a seamless and entertaining show full of candid stories and raw talent. No matter whether you were a country fan or not, you could appreciate the honest storytelling and the genuine talent that he embodies. And do I even need to mention that smile?
Check out the full gallery captured by Claudia Bill Photography HERE;
Photos by Claudia Bill