Emma Dean in Concert
Brisbane Powerhouse, Visy Theatre
Australian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Emma Dean is a consummate performer, having released many original albums/eps. And original is perhaps the best way to describe her style: quirky, intriguing and always exquisite in its realisation. Indeed, from the moment her In Concert show at Brisbane Powerhouse’s Wonderland Festival begins with Richard Grantham’s evocative violin sounds, set against the Visy Theatre’s moody blue and purple lighting, it is clear that the exploration of life, love and loss is going to be a work of art.
Emma Dean is nothing if not eclectic, with a distinctive, sometimes Kate Bush-like sound on show in all sorts of musical genres throughout the hour long concert. From the hillbilly-like ‘Water Fountain’ by The Tune-Yards, a song built before audience eyes to the upbeat, rockier ‘Fire In My Belly’ about loving from a distance and the touching country ballad sounds of ‘Orange Red’, every song is as memorable as it is unique.
The highlight, however, comes courtesy of a stripped back take of Taylor Swift’s ‘Bad Blood’, featuring performer/choreographer Jamie Kendall in dance accompaniment. When Dean is joined in voice by a secret flash mob (members of the Cheep Trill community choir), it is an unforgettably special moment of pure beauty to the point of joyful tears.
Back on piano, Dean soon journeys audiences from the story of sabotage to some similarly dark places courtesy of the catchy ‘Little Succubus’, about a night demon who steals the brains of pious men in their sleep, performed with musical accompaniment from her brother Tony Dean. Regardless of content and themes, however, her original songs all showcase honest lyrics and addictive sounds. Her powerful voice is striking, particularly in its high vocal register, making for some sublime moments. Despite being a sold-out show, the intimate venue allows for display of plenty of personality in vocals, musicality and between song storytelling, which is charismatic and engaging in that never-enough type way.
Emma Dean’s impressive vocals certainly suit the layered tunes, bewitching the room alone before addition of her violin, keyboard and piano musicianship as a stunning treat to the senses. Any chance to see the versatile, multi-talented musician should not be missed, especially when supported by the incredible musical talents of Tony Dean and Richard Grantham.
Musical excellence aside, the show also brings with it an essential message of empowerment, encapsulated in a quote she shares from Marianne Williamson, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” It is a fitting reflection with which to leave audiences at this special gig as she takes some time off to write for a new project.
Photos c/o – kd photography