Julia Jacklin, Maple Glider @ The Gov, Adelaide 20/5/2021

I had been disappointed to learn that Carla Geneve, the planned support for both the original and rescheduled dates for Julia Jacklin’s Crushing tour, had been changed but Maple Glider was a welcome replacement. Tori Zietsch’s solo set was a revelation and actually very well-received by the audience who were respectfully silent. It was a mostly finger-picked folk-country performance that included a couple of singles, songs from her forthcoming LP To Enjoy is the Only Thing and a cover of Shania Twain’s You’re Still the One that fitted well with her original material. A stand-out was the moving performance of Don’t Kiss Me with the stark repeated refrain “sometimes my own body doesn’t feel like my body”. Her album is coming out on June the 25th and I can’t wait to hear it.

After over a year of not performing concerts, Julia Jacklin arrives on stage alone, remarking, “I made it” and “I hope you are all still fans” to cheers from the audience before commencing her set with a Christmas carol, Baby Jesus is Nobody’s Baby Now, not the first time tonight that Julia’s set has thematic similarity to the earlier set by Maple Glider – her first song was titled Mama It’s Christmas. As they join her onstage, she casually announces “the band” (later to be more specifically introduced as Georgia Mulligan on keys and guitar, Harrison Fuller on bass, Clayton Allen on drums, and Blain Cunnen on guitar, the players from her Crushing album) and they play Body, the opening song from Crushing, a harrowing tale of relationship abuse. Among a set made up of songs from her two albums and including standalone singles, there was the “never played before” explicitly self-explanatory CRY which Julia reveals was written in the wake of her move to Fremantle in the last year into a share house during a period of physical and metaphorical self-isolation. It really made me reflect on how Covid affected the artists I love when it took their livelihood with virtually no support from our government.

Prior to Good Guy, she jokes that she had considered a career change to be a long-haul truck driver. This performance of Good Guy is augmented by an audience sing-along. Julia starts to loosen up and relax a little more in the second half of the set, losing herself in the hypnotic riff towards the ending of Don’t Know How To Keep Loving You while the audience rears it’s collective head again for another enthusiastic sing-along. Julia confesses that she has forgotten how to rock and doesn’t know what to do with her legs but Harry on bass more than compensates with his moves perhaps referencing his days playing in an ensemble suitably named Brotherfunk. In the last song, Pressure To Party, Julia embraces the moment and it would have been entirely fitting if she had thrown her head back and let her hair down before leaving the stage. She returns alone to announce that although the audience had been calling for one more song there would be two and performs Don’t Let The Kids Win solo but requires prompting when she forgets the lyrics. The band re-join her for a non-ironic cover of I Will Always Love You which tonight is more Dolly than Whitney.

It was a privilege to witness another powerhouse performance from Julia tonight and her originally scheduled Adelaide tour date was for March last year making it one of the very first casualties of the 2020 social gathering restrictions. Julia’s return to Adelaide delayed by fourteen months (although the hosting venue the Gov has been operating live gigs for some time now) is significant in this respect and the night felt like a return to normalcy which we all hope can be maintained.

Live Review By Richard De Pizzol

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