Gig Review: Sharon Van Etten & BATTS | Melbourne | 11.6.19

Thursday, June 13, 2019

US singer-songwriter and powerhouse Sharon Van Etten took to Melbourne’s Art Centre — putting on an exquisite exhibition of true talent, stirring words and sounds of hope.

Opening for the night was Melbourne-based artist BATTS, who delivered a memorable performance. Accompanied by her guitar, microphone and a light, she showcased not only the ferocity of her vocal range but also her infectious on-stage banter.

Opening up with ‘Change’, which is off of her 2017 EP 62 Moons — her performance of the track was a meditative opener and a guarantee that we were in store for something special. She then jumped into the heart-wrenching ‘Little White Lies’, off of her debut album The Grand Tour. After sharing her experiences of working with NASA for her album and her humorous comment, “it’s a fictional story, don’t get too sad,” she then moved into ‘Gun’, and afterwards ‘Shame’. Her set also included a powerful performance of Gillian Welch’s ‘Everything Is Free’. She closed her set with ‘Folding Chairs’ and ‘For Now’, leaving the packed room in awe of her incredible performance.

Accompanied by her four-piece band, it was a thunderous opening for Sharon Van Etten, who kicked off her set on a mighty note with ‘Jupiter 4’. Her enthralling offering was followed up with ‘Comeback Kid’ and then the shadowy ‘No One's Easy to Love’. After her opening three songs, she shared her gratitude for the Art Centre space. Reaching for the guitar, she then served up her absorbing 2010 track ‘One Day’. In contrast to her high-powered opening, ‘Tarifa’ was moving and all-consuming. If the audience thought for a second that they couldn’t be moved anymore, next came ‘Malibu’ and ‘Hands’.

Her set included a stirring cover of ‘Black Boys on Mopeds’ by Sinéad O’Connor, which was also accompanied by a heartfelt explanation of the impact the song had on Van Etten years ago, as well as the effect it has had on her as a mother.

Before ending the initial portion of her show, she launched into ‘Seventeen’, with the words, “Hanging on my block / Sun coming up / Who is my shadow?’ echoing with great effect within the room. ‘‘Every Time the Sun Comes Up’ and ‘Stay’ followed, leaving everyone desperate for more. Van Etten then returned to the stage, sharing performances of ‘I Told You Everything and ‘Serpents’. She closed the night with ‘Love More’, but before playing it, she left everyone with inspiring parting words inviting the audience to power through the negativity and hate circulating the world and to spread love.

Not only did Sharon Van Etten’s performance wow musically, but her show offered a dose of hope in a world that can often be confusing to navigate.

Written by Amy Smolcic 
Photos by Kristy Smolcic (Folio)