The idea of going to a live gig right now may seem difficult to believe in. In some areas of the country, live music has been slowly making its comeback but for the most part, it’s a pipe dream. So, what are we left with? How can we enjoy the live music that we crave? In a similar vein to previous online performances, Angie McMahon took to technology to present a virtual online concert that proved to be an intimate and rewarding experience.
Dubbed as a re-screening of her Online Solo Piano Concert, viewers had access to the concert from 12pm, 7 October for 24 hours. This time around, McMahon was joined by LA singer/songwriter Jensen McRae who performed the opening set.
With LA’s beautiful Gibson Rehearsal Studio as the backdrop, McRae took her trusty acoustic guitar and set the precedent for what was to come. The set opened with the intricate ‘Wolves’ which showcased McRae’s velvety vocals as well as her introspective songwriting. She then moved into some unreleased tracks and prefaced them by stating, “It’s up-tempo but it’s very sad which is really my sweet spot.”
Acoustic sets can always be a hit or miss. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the middle when songs start to blur together, and you’re left wondering how long is left. This certainly wasn’t the case with McRae due to her ability to draw you in and hang onto her crafty lyrics. She has this unique skill to take subject matters and create witty, yet relatable lyrics and that definitely was on display during her set.
Perhaps the best moment of her set was when she performed her final song, ‘Make You Proud’ which was written when McRae was 19 years old as a letter to her eighth-grade self. It’s a beautiful track that accurately paints the picture of what it was like to be an insecure 13-year-old. But McRae always came back to the notion of how good things were to come. Her vocals were truly on display as they showcased an intense vulnerability without letting the quality suffer.
While we couldn’t be in the same room as her, McMahon still managed to create an atmospheric and intimate space allowing the audience to ingest every lyric and note.
After a short break, we were then taken to The Perch Studio in Victoria where Angie McMahon introduced us to her set of piano songs. It’s safe to say, nothing could have prepared me for the emotional onslaught that was about to ensue.
The set opened with the hauntingly beautiful ‘Soon’ which was a strong highlight. The warmth of the piano chords combined with McMahon’s compelling vocals truly brought the lyrics to life in a way the original studio version doesn’t.
We were then treated to a lullaby version of fan favourite, ‘Slow Mover’. It was a drastically different take of the track but worked well because of McMahon’s ability to change the tone of perspective effortlessly. Instead of a guitar heavy singalong, it’s a piano infused ballad that could be the first song you play after a breakup.
I wasn’t singing along as I normally would, I was holding onto the story she was telling.
It wasn’t all ballads though as with ‘Keeping Time’, McMahon channeled the same energy from the original and managed to make you feel like you were at a live gig again. It was extremely easy to sing along to this one and it was a great way to shake up the set.
Another highlight in the set was the piano version of ‘Pasta’. In McMahon’s own words, the track is meant to be rock song and she must be commended for her effort in transforming it. Like Jensen McRae, McMahon can draw you in and you’re left hanging onto every word she sings. As she sang through ‘Pasta’, I wasn’t singing along as I normally would, I was holding onto the story she was telling.
Towards the end of her set, McMahon performed a cover of the Oh Pep! classic ‘Tea, Milk and Honey’. It was another different take on an already well-established track. But with true class, McMahon managed to make it her own and create an atmospheric track. It was clear she was having fun with it too which made the experience more memorable.
As McMahon started to close out her set, it was clear that I wasn’t ready for the experience to end. Live music is such an integral part of life and while we can’t experience that fully now, it’s great to know that artists like McMahon are willing to provide something like a virtual concert to hold us over.
As a fan of Salt, it was a truly wonderful to experience Angie McMahon take songs fans know so well and transform them into something else entirely. While we couldn’t be in the same room as her, McMahon still managed to create an atmospheric and intimate space allowing the audience to ingest every lyric and note.
Piano Salt is out now and is available here. If you couldn’t watch the Online Solo Piano Concert, do yourself a favour and bask in the glory that is this stunning EP.