Ladies and gentleman, it’s official. Australia is undoubtedly the most prolific producer of musical talent in the world right now. The sheer number of top musicians coming from down under is hard to fathom when you sit back and list them.
Off the top of our head, we have Tame Impala, Tropical Fuck Storm, RVG, Stella Donnelly, Confidence Man, Parcels, Body Type, Amyl & The Sniffers, Courtney Barnett, Haiku Hands, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Hatchie, Mallrat, Alex Lahey and Alex Cameron. We already know you’re screaming at least five more names at us as you read this.
Two names that more than deserve to be on that list are Angie McMahon and Julia Jacklin, both of whom have graced us with their brilliance over two nights at The Button Factory in Dublin this week. With Thursday night’s show a near-immediate sell-out, we managed to squeeze in the door on Friday night and found both acts on top form.
McMahon is on support duties on this tour, but it won’t be long before she’s taking all the plaudits in a venue of this size. With songs as good as Soon, Slow Mover and the incredibly relatable Pasta, coupled with McMahon’s deadpan humour on stage, it feels like it’s only a matter of time.
However Jacklin is the main event of the evening and deservedly so. ‘Crushing’, released earlier this year, will feature highly in any sane albums of the year list. Fittingly, Jacklin opens the set with a double salvo of the bookends of that record. Comfort, played entirely solo, sets the tone for the night as a pin-drop silence descends, which allows for the achingly beautiful Body to resonate fully. “I’m not a good woman when you’re around.”
Of course, it’s not all sparse instrumentation and floating vocals, Jacklin knows how to jam when the time is right as evidenced on the likes of Pool Party, You’re Right and Cold Caller. That point is then hammered home with the back-to-back bonanza of Head Alone (featuring McMahon on vocals and air boxing) and Pressure To Party.
However, it’s the more tender moments that make not only tonight, but Julia Jacklin’s career to date so special. Good Guy, which Jacklin explains is about the difficulty in trying to be romantic but also getting laid at the same time, is stunning in its simplicity. Don’t Know How To Keep Loving You, arguably the most heartbreaking song of 2019, sees Jacklin pondering on the difficulty of slowly falling out of love with someone. “People always ask me if we ever got through that difficult time. No…” she says to some misplaced cheers. “What are you cheering for!?” she quips immediately.
Being able to play songs of such heartache and sensitive subject matter but also keep the audience in a celebratory mood is a fine balancing act and one which Jacklin has perfected. Even at the most sombre points, she knows exactly how to bring the mood back up and keep the party going. An encore of the stunning Don’t Let The Kids Win followed by a belter of a cover of Avril Lavigne’s I’m With You (performed with a grin a cheshire cat would be envious of) showcases this perfectly. This is performance 101. Take notes.
*Photos from Thursday night.