Odette took to the stage in front of a scattering of audience at Riversides Theatres in Parramatta, while also streaming live. Backed by musicians Liam Drinan (percussion) and James Malone (keys + synth) at an appropriate social distance, Odette worked her way through an hour-ish of wonderful music.
There is a tension on the page – she writes such intimate songs, yet most were collected on an album titled To A Stranger – that thankfully is not present onstage. Instead, the primary mood fostered throughout her set was one of comfort rather than theatrics.
The show felt more like a sonic snug-boot – familiar and utterly necessary in the current climate. Part of her authenticity comes from themes and images found in many of her songs, many of which were heard tonight: Stories of bruised hearts, birds, reeds, water, and other images from nature. In this regard it makes sense she chose to perform a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Rhiannon, with all its talk of birds, wind, and the dark.
One of Odette’s strengths tonight was despite the banter in-between songs – let alone the extraordinary circumstances that have her even staging a performance like this in the first place – we still felt a yearning for some of the things she sung about.
It is a credit to her talent that songs written when she was just 16 sit so well next to more recent efforts. Some numbers – Feverbreak, Watch Me Read You, Lotus Eaters – dance an engaging line between spoken word and song, holding your ear until the end. And that end, 12 songs later, finds you grateful and entertained.
The return to live gigs anywhere near how we remember them will be slow and careful, but it’s good to know we have some fantastic artists to accompany us on the way.
Odette: Live at Riverside
Riverside Theatres, Corner Church and Market Streets, Parramatta
Performance: Sunday 6 September 2020 – 7.00pm (live streamed)
Image: Odette (supplied)
Review: David Collins