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Elegant concert in songs of struggle and strength

Eliza Hull in concert at Ainslie Art Centre. Photo: Cassidy Richens

Music / Eliza Hull in concert. At Ainslie Art Centre, June 22. Reviewed by CASSIDY RICHENS

Performing for the first time in Canberra, Castlemaine singer-songwriter Eliza Hull and her three-piece band delivered an elegant concert in songs of struggle, strength and liberation.

Hailed as a leading voice for individualism and an accessibility advocate, Hull’s perspective expressed in poetic lyrics and her commanding vocals were warmly received by the disappointingly small audience. 

Together, Connor Black-Harry (guitar), Jasmine Johnston (keyboard/synth) and Tim Cox (drums) provided a poppier element to songs that could otherwise be considered sparse. 

Accompanying herself on keys, Hull opened with a solo performance of Falling, from her 2012 debut album Dawn. Melbourne guitarist Black-Harry appeared for a duet performance of Don’t Look Away, from Hull’s 2021 album Hear Her Song, adding an indie folk quality with vocal and electric guitar countermelodies.

Johnston’s additional high harmony and synth in Caught, off the 2015 album Bones of Us, created the multi-layered ambient sound and powerful trio of voices that continued throughout the evening.

Ruth O’Brien performing the opening set for Eliza Hull, Ainslie Art Centre. Photo: Cassidy Richens

The full energy of the band was revealed when Cox joined them for How Do I Get Back to You – a song about the healing power of music. His textured drumming, coloured with percussion, foot stomps and hand clapping in Going Soon, also from Hull’s earlier records. 

Leaping forward, we are treated to a live performance of Hull’s December EP, Here They Come. The five-track EP is the artist’s fifth studio recording and the result of a Creative Australia fellowship awarded for her work in arts and disability.

Voicing her disabled identity through simple instrumentation and powerful vocals, it’s now that Hull’s power as a performer really comes to life. 

Her songwriting moved from the gentle piano ballad Stay, to the epic, slow-burning Lilac Dreams. Droning keys grew into powerful electronic melodies and syncopated rhythms in closing performances of Here They Come, Island and Running Underwater. Punchy, poetic, brilliant.

Local singer-songwriter Ruth O’Brien and guitarist Victor Rufus opened with a classy performance of jazz-inspired songs from O’Brien’s recently released album Songs for Abby.

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