Sia, Shepherds Bush Empire, 9 October, 2008

I have a pre concert habit of listening to the artists latest album - sort of like a warmup, to get my ears back into the music prior to the show. This time around, I found myself struggling to get interested, and began wondering if I was actually going to enjoy the concert.

As the show started, apprehension gave way to suprise as I realized was was at least in for an interesting night - The lights went down, and Sia and band all walked on stage wearing black clothes and masks covered in multi-coloured flourescent paint, making each of them look like giant hand drawn stick figures, which looked quite spectacular as they moved around stage in the dark. And then Sia opened her mouth… and all concern floated away with her beautiful singing, as I remembered the reason I wanted to see her in concert.

You see, I initially fell in love with Sia’s music through live recordings. She always sounded so vivacious, and organic with her music and singing, and her songs virtually sang themselves they were so catchy. But this is where it also ends - while her studio albums are great, and are indeed one representation of her music, they fall short in my eyes. I’m not saying its the music thats the issue here - what I really mean to say is: some artists are worth seeing live more than heard on a record. Call them true musicians, or whatever you like, these artists transcend their recordings when seen live - Heck, anyone can sound good in a studio - but live? now thats the truth of an artists music and vision laid bare.

Sia is fortunate to be one of the lucky few to rise above. Others I’d include in this small group include Jeff Buckley, Eva Cassidy, Bon Iver, Ani Difranco, The Waifs, John Butler, Missy Higgins, and Paul Kelly. (I’m sure there are also many others that I havent heard about yet) What I’m talking about is live music, performed in such a way that it simply takes you somewhere special - those goosebump kinda performances.

Not satisfied to just perform the audience (who seemed already very much in love with her), Sia had other party tricks to enhance the night - from bribing us by throwing out sweets, to 2 extra large balloons, filled with glitter both of which bounced endlessly up and around the venue. In one of the last tracks of the set, she slipped off her shoes, stepped back from her microphone, and danced around the stage with a total abandonment that we all secretly wish we could also do (if, only in our bedrooms when no ones home). But there she was, centre stage in a major london venue, watched by thousands, but dancing as if no one was watching. Its no wonder that everyone there seemed to be in love with her, as her live show really lived up to her music, and what I’d visualized about it in my head.

So, I must give Sia a hearty thanks for such a lovely show - for showing me that some people are happy being utterly themselves, and are loved for it, and for refreshing my memory about what live music should be like.

here are some tracks from the night:
Sia - Death by Chocolate.mp3
Sia - The Pageant of the Bizarre.mp3
Sia - Soon We’ll be Found.mp3
Sia - Breathe Me.mp3

… and here’s a flickr set by Preamble

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