The fresh Friday night of May 24 was bound to be one to remember as I walked past the Box Office line up overhearing people still trying to buy tickets to Amy Shark’s aka Amy Louise Billing’s Sold Out gig at the Thebarton Theatre. This iconic and alternative indie pop singer-songwriter, who rose from the waves of Australia’s Gold Coast, has become a phenomenon over the past few years. At the 2018 ARIA Music Awards, Love Monster, Amy Shark’s Debut Album, won Album of the Year, Best Female Artist and Best Pop Release. The 32 year old artist, (who penned her last name ‘Shark’ as a dedication to her favourite film Jaws) is extremely engaging and dynamically energetic on stage, emotionally connecting with all audiences. Amy’s signature dance moves and top knot hairstyle, friendly demeanour, trademark penchant for swearing and hilarious stories of her international touring life are a few traits that allow her to be universally appealing to audiences, ranging from young girls to middle aged fans. Shark’s electric confidence, welcoming smile and repertoire of musical talents burst through her every live performance; and this show was everything fans expected and more.
Amy Shark’s musical history began back in high school, where she was in an all-girl grunge band, mostly playing the guitar. Knowing this, it only seems fitting that Shark’s first support act of the night were Erthlings, an all-girl indie band of four 16 year olds, originating from Sydney. With a mixture of dreamy and moody vocals, keyboards, soft guitar and drum rhythms, this impressive and enigmatic group sang alternative pop tracks like Bridges, to ease the ever-growing crowd into the night. Next up, acting as a perfect duality, Slowly Slowly, the four-piece all-boy pop punk band from Melbourne, rocked out on stage, dedicating songs to “….our new friends Erthlings. They are a wonderful band.” Slowly Slowly’s front man Ben Stewart’s electric and simultaneously friendly energy was evident in a cover of Skinny Love and some of the bands original and addictive hits including Jellyfish and Ten Leaf Clover.
The audience awaited Shark’s entrance onto the stage as giant letters spelling out ‘AMY SHARK’ were assembled, and an ominous portrait of Amy adorned the back wall, foreshadowing her imminent takeover of the theatre and stealing the hearts of her Adelaide fans. Then, in amongst the mystical purple lights, like an angel appearing from the darkness, a small figure dressed in white jeans and a white Adidas jacket skipped onto the stage surrounded by a spotlight. Scattered around the Sold Out show at the Thebby, were a confetti of people reaching to get even the slightest glimpse of Amy.
As fans cheered Amy on, she simply walked to the microphone, introduced herself and seamlessly explained that this will be “absolutely nothing like my normal show”, setting the enthusiastic tone for the night. The small technical difficulties before her show began, only allowed Amy to spend some quality time with her audience as she had “a look at my front row here”, before she literally jumped into her first song of the night; Blood Brothers. This song only encouraged fans to feel even closer to Amy, as though she was our own blood brother, welcoming us into her world for the night.
I Got You and Psycho, songs from the 2018 album Love Monster highlighted Shark’s pop sensibilities and guitar skills. Shark then dedicated a song to her “OG fans” with her 2014 tune Spits on Girls. The crowd was officially reeled into this musical journey with Shark, as she performed two of her highly emotional tracks from Love Monster; Leave Us Alone and You Think I Think I Sound Like God. Her haunting vocals and acoustic guitar talents induced a wave of silence and isolated whispers that washed over the crowd as we listened to Shark sing and reminisce about daunting past relationships.
As promised, Shark quickened the pace in the second half of her show, after the first half’s few hypnotically slow tunes and evasively spine-tingling crescendo’s. She jumped straight into the catchy tracks Mess Her Up, Drive You Mad and Weekends from her 2017 Night Thinker EP, singing straight to small groups around the audience. She was constantly moving, knocking over mic stands and creating havoc as she infectiously danced around on stage, acknowledging even the last few rows of the seated crowd. Amy showed us her dynamic and versatile rock and hip-hop influences, rapping to a cover of Maroon 5 and Cardi B’s Girls Like You and playing guitar to her own rendition of Wheatus’ Teenage Dirtbag, a sure-fire way to ignite a sing-a-long amongst the crowd.
We reached the pinnacle of the night when Shark talked us through how the encore will work; with the crowd chanting ‘AMY! AMY! AMY!’ and her coming back to sing arguably two of the best songs she has ever written; Adore and I Said Hi. Amy left the stage and the lights went out as the audience addictively cheered her back on, where she performed the final two anthems of the night. Overwhelmed with obvious joy and gratitude for the adoring audience, Amy beamed with the brightest smile and directed her applause right back at everyone.
Echoes of Shark’s songs and stories effortlessly swam through the theatre as she waved goodbye and finally let fans know that Adelaide’s was “…the best show of this tour!” Shark’s exuberant happiness and genuine performance was recognised and encouraged by the crowd. The theatre floor shuddered beneath as fans stamped their feet and left the theatre singing “Tell ‘em all I said hi…”. Amy Shark’s final show of this tour will be in Melbourne at the Margaret Court Arena on Friday May 31st.
Live Review By Zara Zampaglione