Sarah Blasko, Ryan Downey @ The Gov, Adelaide 8/6/2018

Having performed only the first two songs from just released Depth of Field during her last Adelaide appearance in late February at the Supermassive festival, Sarah Blasko’s performance tonight is the album’s proper Adelaide debut, the album played in entirety followed by older songs.

After the first song, Phantom, Sarah thanks the audience “for being here… and being yourselves”. She introduces the band early on, Neil Sutherland on keys being an addition to the players on Depth of Field, David Hunt on guitar, Laurence Pike on drums and Donny Benet on bass. Although Sarah is an imposing, confident figure, performing her trademark interpretive dancing and carrying the microphone with a looped lead like an unused whip in the moment of a song, in between the songs in a dialogue with the audience she comes across as far more human and gracious. She does have trouble deciphering call outs from the audience, a misheard, “Give the drummer some”, eliciting Sarah’s response, “Donna Sumner?” and she politely declines to do any Donna Sumner songs. Coincidentally some of the songs tonight do bring to mind Donna Sumner’s high pitched vocals and the song prior to this moment of audience interaction, Everybody Wants to Sin, did have a Giorgio Moroder-esque quality to it. Heaven Sent sounds potentially like an updated outtake from As Day Follows Night while Making It Up has a high pitched vocal that devolves into a deliberately yawned ending.

Someone calls out, “Good job”, to which Sarah responds, “It’s good to get feedback in the workplace” but the potential to make a joke is lost before Read My Mind which is followed by a rapturous applause. Lead Me Back concludes Depth of Field and I Am Ready is an appropriate entry into her back catalogue. After the clarification that there wouldn’t be requests, Sarah confirms, “We’re going backwards by the way” and there are two songs a piece from each of her previous three albums. God-Fearing is notable for Sarah’s ghostly theremin-like vocals and her loose stringed puppet dancing. Sarah notes, “It’s a strange thing, carpet on a stage” prior to All I Want with the audience not quite sure whether to join in or not as she extends the pause in the final lyric of “my… self” and almost breaks into laughter. The band leave the stage following We Won’t Run with “Thanks for such a great night” and a blown kiss. For the encore initially only Sarah and Dave return, with a further clarification that due to her “encore anxiety” there will only be two more songs. Down on Love is a Disney-esque almost rewrite of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. Sarah comments, “It’s been a while since I’ve played a show so tangible… sweaty… Theatres are nice but…” following on from earlier comments about being so close to the audience. Dave is joined at the mini progressive rock keyboard set up by Laurence and Neil while Donny on bass sits in the shadows on the opposite side of the stage and the set closes with an out of chronology return to Eternal Return with the glacial Without.

During the set Sarah had thanked her support act Ryan Downey by which time he had been long forgotten, eclipsed by Sarah and her band’s set. Ryan’s was an accomplished set of initially what came across as folk troubadour songs with a Richard Thompson quality although that tinge to the vocals which initially brought to mind Chris Isaak was actually, if considered back to it’s source, more Roy Orbison. His short set including songs from his full length solo debut Running was thoroughly enjoyable and moving although contrasted with the technologically enhanced set by Sarah and her band that followed.

Live Review by Jason Leigh

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