Julia Jacklin // The Forum

19 Mar Crushing Hard – Julia Jacklin Live at The Forum (14/3/19)


Words by Michael Choong // Photos by Sarah Chavdaroska


After the February release of her sophomore album Crushing, Julia Jacklin played to a sold-out crowd at iconic Melbourne venue The Forum Theatre whilst on her first national tour for 2019. Having recently moved to Melbourne, and on her last tour selling out two Corner Hotel gigs, she is clearly loved in her new home-town.

In the venue, the audience’s adoration was evidenced throughout the night – gentle humming and singing in the background of every tune. Nevertheless, Jacklin still seems surprised by her fame: “I’m struck by the absurdity of what I’m doing. I’m just playing guitar on a stage with my friends.”

And that is exactly what she does. Jacklin’s live show doesn’t rely on any distractions or tricks. Instead, her performance is one that is understated yet immense. The instrumentals are sparse and restrained, but powerful in the way they fill the space. This allows Jacklin’s voice to be the centrepiece, and the acoustics are clear enough to showcase her skills as a classically trained vocalist.


Her music is the perfect fit for a venue this size or smaller: its lyrics are intimate and thoughtful, reflective in nature and tending towards self-examination. With the Forum’s cerulean-blue ceiling lit to imitate the evening sky, the overall effect is breathtaking and powerful. This was felt particularly moments before ‘When the Family Flies in‘ as Jacklin recounted for the audience the loss of a friend, and to whom the song was dedicated – “this song isn’t pleasant at all.”

However, the entire evening was punctuated with more moments of humour than seriousness. Not long after this sombre moment she gave a shout out to “Ryan The Sound Guy”, recalling a time when they had a night out which ended with her waking up, covered in fries. She is everyone’s secret spirit animal.

Stories aside though, Jacklin’s music is immersive and captivating, uniting her audience as one big-love-entity. As the night came to an end, with her eyes closed, head rocking back to the sky, crowd singing along to ‘Motherland‘ and hearing “And oh I’m good, I think I’m good; Will I be great, will I be great?”… well, we believe the evidence is clear that Julia Jacklin is and always will be “Great”.



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15 Feb Purity Ring live at The Forum (11/2/16)

 

After seeing their live show at Splendour in the Grass 2015, this humble photographer was very excited to see the incredible Canadian duo Purity Ring once again (but this time in her home-town and not covered in mud – thank you for the mud-smeared memories Splendour).

Upon entering The Forum Theatre in Melbourne, the beautiful majesty of the venue is always enough to build suspense on its own. With smoke furling from the stage and hints of the stage craft we’d be seeing, the anticipation was palpable from the audience as the venue quickly filled up.

 

 

Of course anything ‘live’ is not without its hiccups, and unfortunately (albeit to the crowds amusement) a stage hand went sliding across the stage whilst prepping for the start of the show (…he’d done so well all night). This caused some frantic floor-scrubbing in the hope of saving the performers from the same fate, and luckily no slipping and sliding occurred during the show. Well done guys, 10 points.

Perhaps it was the hand of fate that tripped him up…? Spooky/exciting moment.

Moving on from the pre-performance anecdotes (of which there are always a few) and once the R’n’B music had died away, the crowd cheered loudly as what was a night of grand visual elements and futuristic-dream-pop began.

 

 

As Corin Roddick and Megan James came on stage to loud cheers and opening with ‘stranger than earth’, their stage welcomed them. The curtain of lights begun to glow and Roddick’s ‘lamp-like’ percussion and synthesiser ‘instrument’ came to life.

The entire evening was a sensational journey through Purity Ring’s highly acclaimed debut album Shrines and their second studio album another eternity. James’ voice when interacting with her audience is soft and meek – but when it comes to her singing it’s a unique and encapsulating voice that is Purity Ring’s instantly recognisable sound. With a touch of reverb and building momentum, James’ voice carried across The Forum well throughout the entire evening.

Roddick moved between songs with ease and at times with creative interludes that kept the crowd moving. ‘push pull’ arrived with a roar from the crowd, followed by an electronic dance introduction to ‘Belispeak’ which was matched with almost haunting reverb from James and fluid dance movements.

 

 

James joined Roddick for parts of ‘Crawlersout’, the crowd’s growing anticipation was met with ‘bodyache’ and ‘heartsigh’; then the mood changed to this enthralling eyes-closed, head-swaying type of moment for ‘sea castle’. That song will give anyone that kind of arm-hair raising type of thrill.

Halfway through ‘dust hymn’ James headed to the back of the stage to beat on the giant circle drum that I previously thought was just another light…so a particularly great surprise there. Next came ‘flood on the floor’ which if you haven’t listened to before… go. Now. Go. It’s this soundscape with just the right amount of dainty lyrics then high crescendos and momentum building electronic backing.

Ending on one of their most well-known tracks ‘begin again’, I have nothing but praise for Purity Ring and I could honestly go on for days about this show. (Of course I HAVE to mention the light contraption that James showed us throughout ‘stillness in woe’ – it was a mirror-gloved-sensor-light-sensation).

 

 

The whole performance was well orchestrated and felt like a true experience – what I mean by that is you can tell from them both that they love what they do, and they do it well. Between James’ fantastic wardrobe, the complementary coloured lighting, that face-wobbling bass and James letting the crowd know in her sweet way ‘We don’t do encores, we think it’s weird…we love you and this is for you!’ just made it all the more perfect. They’re very ‘real’ performers – way to set the bar guys. I’m very excited to see what they will release in future, and perhaps the progression of their live show along with new tracks.

 

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17 Sep THE RIPE TV – Julia Stone

Grace caught up with legendary singer/songwriter Julia Stone before her sold out gig at The Forum to discuss her new music, national sold out tour and life on the road without her brother Angus.

Check out the review from the gig below:

GIG REVIEW: JULIA STONE @ The Forum – 07/09/12

The seven giant stars hanging above the Forum Theatre’s stage made me sigh with happiness. It had been a long week and I was beyond glad that it was a Friday (even more so than usual). Knowing that the beautiful Julia Stone would soon grace the delicately lit stage filled my heart with even more joy.  The air smelt of cider and the darkened room was punctuated with the light from iPhones. I could just imagine the captions and hashtags… “At Julia Stone #love”. And it’s not as if I could blame them, because I have a lot of love for Ms Stone, too.

There was complete and utter silence as she stepped out onto the stage. It was a song I’d never heard before but I was drawn in all the same. I wanted to cry. There was so much… desperation in her voice.  Without a word, the band launched into a cover of “Bloodbuzz Ohio (originally by The National). The crowd swayed gently and marveled in her brilliance.

Every now and then, a smile would creep across her face. It was almost a relief after the intensity of “For You” – (“I wrote this years and years ago, for a man I loved. It was a last attempt to tell him how I felt. He sent me back a death metal track, so I guess he wasn’t in love with me”), and the revelation of nerves – seeing Julia smile had a calming effect.

The heavy, bassy feel continued with a track from the new album, “It’s All Okay” and carried on throughout the rest of the set. Her stories broke up the evening; there would be two or three songs and then a story. Julia spoke about her brother, Angus, and about how nice it was playing songs she wouldn’t usually get to. If there was going to be a song in the set list to make me cry, it was going to be “My Baby.”

Throughout the entire evening, there was this overwhelming sense of intensity, especially during tracks like “Break Apart,” where I hung off every word, and which sounded a lot different to its recording – much heavier. “This Love” turned out to be about her brother, and despite forgetting the lyrics, Julia managed to impress us all.

After something so beautiful, it was almost scary to hear Julia say, “this is now the angry part of the set. This is a song about when you’re having sex with someone and they have sex with someone else.” It was hard to tell if she was kidding with how much hurt there was, and then she says with a laugh, “What a wanker, hey?”

The band launched into the most full-on version of “By The Horns” you could ever imagine – it makes me angry. How could anyone ever want to hurt someone as brilliant as Julia Stone?

Things calmed down a little towards the end. The six or seven girls at the front with dip-dyed hair who kept waving their arms around like they were at Falls Festival seemed to thoroughly enjoy a rather upbeat version of “And the Boys” (they were too busy dancing to notice all the eye-rolling they received) and then Julia told us that she’d “totally love to play “Big Jet Plane,” but that she didn’t know the chords. Instead, she treated us to another oldie, “Wedding Song.” The delicate lyrics help ease the intensity and Ross Irwin’s improvised trumpet solo made me wish that he and I could have our own wedding song.

Julia thanked Melbourne– told us it’d been a real pleasure and ended with another unfamiliar song – this time it was about opening your heart. It finished and my opened-up heart was full to the brim. She took a bow, and then, she was gone.

 

REVIEW BY GRACE GOODFELLOW

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22 Mar BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB @ The Forum

It was a great night for a gig, on Tuesday 20 March, as we trotted off to The Forum to see Bombay Bicycle Club live for the first time in Melbourne.

Due to decent exposure in Australia late last year, the crowd was packed with young guns thankful that the gig had been moved from The Corner Hotel to a bigger venue.

This indie, sometimes rock, sometimes folk band from London have been releasing music since 2007, gigging since 2005, and were all class in their delivery. Opening with their newie, ‘How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep,’ they kicked off a set that was full of a range of tracks picked from albums one, two and three. I was glad for this, as each album employs very different sounds, and there were many older favourites our group was eager to hear alongside the new.

It’s because of this that I think there was an unusual atmosphere in the room. Everyone there, I suspect, enjoyed what they were listening to. How could you not? But there was considerably less excitement than usual for this type of gig. Perhaps many knew their latest album, A Different Kind Of Fix, but were less familiar with the other two. Regardless, they did each song justice and our favourites were ‘Dust On The Ground,’ ‘Ivy and Gold,’ ‘Rinse Me Down,’ ‘Lights Out Words Gone’ and of course ‘Always Like This.’

When finished, we watched them walk off stage only to be brought back by a crowd thumping their feet for an encore, making me question the merit of this typical, and perhaps now trite ritual. ‘Shuffle,’ however, brought the atmosphere to a new level and we walked out into the warm night feeling elated.

REVIEW BY STEF ITALIA

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21 Jan THE WHITEST BOY ALIVE @ The Forum

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It’s been a while for die-hard fans, so the air on Wednesday night was rife with anticipation. Walking on to the Forum’s stage, The Whitest Boy Alive got right down to task.

They kicked off their set with Keep A Secret from their last album Rules, released in 2009, which loosened the expecting crowd. Hoping they would be consistent, fun and their set list a little surprising, we were not disappointed.

Playing with very little interval time and occasionally stopping to tell the odd joke, they powered through High On The Heels, Timebomb and Golden Cage with little banter, their pitch perfect sound carrying well in the Forum. It was clear that everyone was waiting for their personal favourite but had a healthy, merry appreciation for every track.

Personally, I was hanging out for Courage which they extended, clearing any expectations I had and leaving me unable to stop from grinning. Their sound quality proved that tracks like 1517 and Burning sounded perfect live, and I enjoyed them even more with the atmosphere, a feat I didn’t think possible.

The German-Norwegian group, whose first album Dreams debuted in 2006, assured the crowd that they had indeed been making new music, playing new tracks Bad Conscience and Upside Down (it’s a killer) and introducing their “fifth band” member, the crowd, for a quaint sing-a-long.

It was nice to be surrounded by such a mix of young and old, all connecting with the same established beats, equally appreciating what was about to come.

Whether it was keys or guitar playing the melody, the texture of each individual track made it very clear how tight this group’s music is and how outstanding they perform it for an audience. Øye’s melancholic lyrics, whose smoothness flipped from murmur to echo accordingly, coupled with his adorably quirky dance moves made them an absolute joy to listen to and watch.

The unexpected was when they fitted Fireworks with a sample of Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game, whose falsetto suited Øye’s voice perfectly. Encore? Just a little charming cover of R. Kelly’s Ignition and disco dance favourite Show Me Love.

A bloody great way to spend a casual Wednesday night.

REVIEW BY STEF ITALIA

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