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Missy Higgins performs with WASO. Picture: Sara Hannagan Full gallery

Review: Missy Higgins and WASO at Kings Park, 3 December 2016

8.5
Orchestral fanfare and Higgins hilarity.

Fifteen years ago, a little-known Geelong teenager named Missy Higgins supported early-2000s powerhouse George on a national tour at the height of their success.

Fast forward to 2016 and Higgins, now 33, is on her own national tour accompanied by a symphony orchestra at each show.

Her support act in Perth?

George, of course.

The fact was not lost on either Higgins or George lead singer Katie Noonan who, during each of their sets, took the time to reminisce about that first tour.

Higgins’ rise from greasy-haired (her words, not ours) homemade pants-wearing support act to bona fide star had never been more evident as she stood in front of around 50 other musicians – all there to play the music she wrote.

Higgins’ rise from greasy-haired (her words, not ours) homemade pants-wearing support act to bona fide star had never been more evident as she stood in front of around 50 other musicians – all there to play the music she wrote.

Melbourne indie folk artist Ben Abraham opened the Kings Park show with songs from his debut album Sirens.

George followed, with a substantial set covering a selection of tracks dating back to their beginnings in the late 90s, including hits Breathe In Now and Special Ones.

The Brisbane band are playing with more precision than ever and Noonan’s voice was typically flawless.

They’re really more of a headline act than a support, but seemed content to pass the torch to their one-time apprentice.

Higgins, joined by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO), opened with Katie from her debut album The Sound of White.

Lush strings built to a warm crescendo; a taste of what was to come.

In an almost two-hour set, Higgins and her band played a mixture of old and new, with the orchestra and without.

Favourites like Scar and The Special Two received the usual sing-along response, while new songs gave listeners a hint as to what the next album might bring.

Favourites like Scar and The Special Two received the usual sing-along response, while new songs gave listeners a hint as to what the next album might bring.

An unnamed new song had a darker sound than Higgins’ music to date – the product of her current obsession with a post-apocalyptic world (a combination of climate change concerns and binge-watching The Walking Dead).

A touching ukulele tribute to the rollercoaster of parenthood took a comedic turn when Higgins forgot one of the lines.

“This is the first time, do do do do do do do,” she sang, with the audience in fits of laughter.

The addition of brass, woodwind, strings and percussion took Higgins’ songs – already known for their emotional depth – to a new level.

Higgins became another member of the orchestra, following cues from the conductor and letting other musicians shine during their big moments.

Warm Whispers, from 2007’s On A Clear Night, was far from the subdued track it once was – thanks to the dynamic twists and turns provided by WASO – and a cover of Kylie Minogue’s Confide In Me was a full-orchestra extravaganza.

The rain which had threatened most of the night started coming down as Higgins and co launched into final song Steer, which ended with all the flourish and fanfare you’d expect of a symphony performance.

After 15-odd years in the spotlight, Higgins is still the affable kid from Geelong with the stunning voice.

Her down-to-earthness and ability to turn a potential disaster in to a hilarious highlight remain at the centre of her performances.

Higgins is currently recording and judging by the reaction of tonight’s crowd, there’s a strong appetite for her new material.

No pressure, Missy, but everyone’s waiting.




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