The cooling system at Gertrude’s Brown Couch is known for being a bit crap and tonight it certainly lived up to its reputation. Most the diverse crowd were seated on the floor and tried to keep cool by making make-shift fans from showbags and albums from the merch stand. Luckily the live music on offer was well worth venturing into the heat.
Yelka is one of my favourite local singer-songwriters and she certainly didn’t disappoint. Joined on stage by Georgia Fields on ukulele and back-up vocals and Joel Williams on Keyboard she performed a great set. One of the great things about Yelka is that her songs can be both funny and touching at the same time. A large portion of the songs in her set were dedicated to mean boys (let’s face it, we all know a couple) as well as more unexpected subjects such as Joel getting parking fines on Ticket to Park and the old people in who live in the nursing home where her dad works. Her cover of Beyonce’s Crazy In Love was the highlight of the set with Georgia Field’s harmonies working perfectly with her excellent vocals.
As great as Yelka’s set was, tonight was all about Mezz Coleman. Joined on stage by what appeared to be half her family and a bunch of friends to launch her fantastic debut album Parts of You, Parts of Me, it felt like you were witnessing a really awesome family gathering. Bridging the gap between jazz and pop she delivered brilliant set that was entertaining and at times moving. Beginning with album opener Personal(complete with a string section comprised of co-workers) it instantly becomes clear just how powerful Mezz’s voice really is. The songs on the album really come alive in the live setting, especially the sorrowful Sorry, Sorry and the jazzy Don’t Touch Me. She dedicated the infectious Found in Family to the Footscray crew and it was one of the most upbeat moments of the set. Yelka and Georgia Fields were invited onstage to perform a three-part harmony version of Don’t Leave Nobody But The Baby from the film O Brother Where Art Thou? The singers’ vocals worked wonderfully together and it was one of the set’s highlights. The best track of the night however was the album’s first single and set closer Circus. Inviting everyone who had played on the night back onstage, it really was a grande finale. The combination of horns, strings, backing vocals, the band and Mezz’s powerful voice was amazing and well worth braving the heat to see. As soon as she finished playing, the chants for an encore began and she closed the night with a soulful cover of The Beatles classic Oh Darling, leaving the crowd desperate for more.