On a sweltering Thursday night in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley with storms surrounding the city and lightning cracking the sky, a sell-out crowd packed themselves into local institution The Tivoli to witness a team-up by two of Australia’s premiere young talents currently enjoying a co-headlining national tour: Jarryd James and Meg Mac.
The opening act is a local, and one whose star has shot skyward all year and at warp speed following the release of her Like You Want To EP, the ultra-cool Kita Alexander. Possessed with an absolutely stunning voice completely belying her 19 years and using it to croon over some of the cleverest and most satisfying synth-pop hits to grace your ears all year, Kita closes her set with a one-two knockout blow of Go My Own Way and Like You Want To, both of which were spun like tops over the Triple J airwaves from about as soon as they were released, keeping the slowly swelling Tivoli crowd enthralled the entire time. Rest assured this young lady is going to go wherever she wants in the very near future.
It takes all of about five minutes following Kita Alexander’s exit for The Tivoli to all of a sudden turn into a sardine tin. Meg Mac wastes little time in taking to the stage and proceeds to hammer home an absolutely fantastic set. She’s joined by her regular back-up singer Dani as well as her sister Hannah (who wasn’t with her in Brisbane for the last tour). We caught her last time on her solo headline tour at Max Watt’s in Brisbane’s West End and were left with goosebumps for days afterwards, this set brought them all roaring back.
All the usual favourites are there, a bonechilling rendition of Known Better, her always heartfelt cover of Grandma’s Hands made originally famous by Bill Withers, the barely restrained fury of Every Lie. As far as new material goes, she throws in her own utterly stunning version of Jimmy Ruffin’s What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted, plays Cages, a song she introduced us to here for the very first time the last time she was out and one she dedicates to her brother as ‘the only reason he came to the show in Sydney’ and also plays us yet another brand new song, exploring some rough days if you paid attention to the lyrics, though you’d be forgiven if you found yourself lost in that heavenly voice at all, it happens to the best of us.
There’s no sign of co-headliner Jarryd as Meg closes the show in thunderous fashion, threatening to explode all of our brains with Roll Up Your Sleeves and this year’s smash hit Never Be back-to-back. Once again, Meg has ripped the absolute roof off. Somehow her voice gets better and better and reaches untold heights every single time I see her. She exits the stage to a deafening ovation but I have a feeling we’ve not seen the last of Meg Mac just yet…
Having made the mistake of waiting too long to head inside for Meg’s set and being stuck waaaay way up the back, I suck it up and get out of the fresh air early to get a good spot in the front for Jarryd James. The humidity is reaching atrocious levels, everyone who held onto their paper ticket using it as a fan, but thankfully the wait isn’t too long for the final set.
Meg Mac is a nigh-impossible act to follow from a vocal perspective but Jarryd is well up to the challenge. The temperature might be volcanic but he injects a whole lot of cool into the Tivoli from the moment he takes the stage and plays everyone’s favourites from his unfathomably good debut LP Thirty One. He stuns the audience with his live renditions of the tracks they’ve spent the whole year falling in love with. The gorgeously lilting Sell It To Me, the laid back lounge neo-soul of Sure Love, the foot-stomping raunch of Give Me Something, the chorus of which drops the floor out from underneath everyone.
In between tracks Jarryd is humble and soft-spoken, expressing how thankful he is at how far he’s come so very quickly, admitting it’s still incredibly difficult for him to get up and do this in front of an audience (it really doesn’t seem like it Jarryd!) and engaging in a bit of banter with the audience (chuckling momentarily at the enormous dude just near me who keeps making what sound like really odd bird calls to break up any silences). Out of nowhere, a familiar voice breaks out and Meg Mac is floating onto the stage to fill in for Julia Stone and lob Jarryd up the alley oop pass on the sublime Regardless.
This is the moment everyone has waited all night for, the galactically outrageous collision of two of the most superb young voices in the entire country, and boy does it not disappoint for even a second. Chills and goosebumps and shivers all at once for an amazing duet that finishes and sees Meg take her second exit far too soon.
The heat is long forgotten as Jarryd belts out more stunners in his repertoire, This Time (Serious Symptoms, Simple Solutions) an absolute hair-raising treat. All of a sudden, after over an hour spent with jaws on the floor everywhere, he’s running through a monolithic, slow-burning rendition of Do You Remember, unquestionably his biggest hit to date, and reality sets in that the show is almost over. The lights go out for a brief moment, and when they return it’s Jarryd, Meg and backup singers Hannah and Dani onstage again for one last go around. They leave an audience beyond stoked and satisfied with a sizzling duet of Ray Charles‘ Misery In My Heart, there’s a whole lot of it in mine not knowing when we’ll ever see these two performing alongisde each other again
Absolutely. Fucking. Amazing. If we can get a Watch The Throne album from these two I think a lot of us would die happy. What a stellar moment for Australian music and such a bright and wonderful vision of its future to have two of its absolute best come together and join forces on a tour like this.
Please do it again soon.