Reviewed on Sunday August 17
When AC/DC first began touring – or so the story goes – they found themselves enlisted as the opening act for a variety of established bands. However, they were soon dropped from the bill after managers began realising they were stealing the show from acts they were supposed to be supporting. While Georgia Mooney is about as far from Bon Scott as you can get, the lineup at The Basement delivered that rare instance of a support proving much more nuanced and engaging than the main.
Mooney performed a solo set hallmarked by gorgeous vocals, adroit piano and stirring lyrics. Alone onstage (with the exception of large cardboard statues – lion, penguin, giraffe – scattered about in the most unlikely animal alliance since the Ark) there was an intimacy to her songs that had chatter throughout the room instantly stilled. From Robin Williams-dedicated ‘Going Home’ to the haunting set stand-out, ‘Birthday’, Mooney performed with such charm that even the occasional slip-up was made all the more endearing (the advice to herself mid-song, “Don’t freak out”, being a case in point). A rich, evocative performance.
Toni Childs is a tremendous vocalist and the sincerity behind her songs is undeniable. Sadly, her set was characterised by conflicting spiritual observations, forgotten lyrics, haughtiness, and a band that looked like it was ready to fall asleep.
You don’t expect a singer to be ecstatic across every performance, of course, and it is true that she was playing for a suddenly cold audience – it was not until ‘Dreamer’ several songs in that they finally began to engage. But after repeated statements denigrating the crowd for being from Sydney (which was no doubt intended as gentle chiding but came across as conceit) whenever they displayed reluctance to join her onstage or thrust their pelvises during ‘Zimbabwe’, to forgetting the words and starting Emmy Award-winning song ‘Because You’re Beautiful’ over again three times, to insisting that domestic violence can only be stopped after women first stop hurting themselves, which is well-intentioned but extremely problematic – after all of this, I had lost faith.
Childs’ voice is as outstanding as ever, and the passion for her words can be felt as much as it can be heard. The majority of her act, however, was an awkward, underwhelming show that may once upon a time have been something quite moving.