Melbourne’s Margaret Court Arena was packed to capacity by 9.30pm on Saturday night. Thousands of fans stared expectantly at a translucent screen, which announced the imminent presence of “AMY SHARK” in bold yellow letters, Beyonce-style. A long-haired silhouette appeared behind it, microphone in hand. Cue screaming.
Amy Shark exploded onto the Australian music scene with her 2016 single, ‘Adore’. Fresh off the heels of an international tour, her latest Melbourne gig was her biggest yet, in what is now her second national run of her debut album, Love Monster.
Onstage, the ARIA award-winner was at ease; chatty and effervescent – it’s easy to see why her Melbourne fans were so enthralled. Some punters were hoisting hand-painted signs emblazoned with her lyrics; many were sporting her merchandise. Amy Shark chatted to them happily as if she’d known them all her life, casually recounting memories of ex-boyfriends and awkward moments on tour.
After a dramatic introduction – the fabric screen in front of Amy Shark dropped, to the soundtrack of Les Miserables – she wowed the auditorium in a performance complete with pyrotechnics, jokes (she does a solid German impression), and a giant confetti cannon.
It was, in a word, fantastical.
Her debut album, Love Monster, is sleek, poppy, and evocative; it’s difficult not to bop along to. It’s also disarmingly earnest; Shark isn’t afraid to sing about her darkest moments. Heartbreak, rejection and overwhelm seem to be her forte. Near the beginning of her set, Shark joked good-humouredly about the pitfalls of performing internationally (a journalist in Berlin apparently said at the start of an interview, “Nobody really knows you at all here!”). For now, we’re happy to keep her our not-so-little secret.
Fireworks and confetti bombs aside, Shark’s voice was the night’s star attraction. Smooth, soulful, and pitch perfect, her singing abilities have all the markers of an experienced pop professional, the result of years of effort and fine tuning. Shark spent a decade trying to crack into the national music scene, and you can feel that in her performance. She was reportedly ready to give up altogether before ‘Adore’ was voted number 2 in Triple J’s hottest 100 – boy, she must be glad she didn’t.
‘I Said Hi’, Sharks’ final song of the night (and my personal favourite) is a testament to those career struggles. The lead single of the album, ‘I Said Hi’ hits back at all the people who encouraged Shark to quit the business before she got big. The song’s tongue-in-cheek saltiness is a little like Ariana Grande’s ‘thank u, next‘, with a splash of punk-girl anger mixed in. It felt like the entire audience was singing along for the chorus:
Tell ’em all I said hi, hope you’ve been well/ You’ve been asleep while I’ve been in hell
Amy Shark was beautifully supported by a dreamy performance from the all-girl Sydney band Erthlings, followed by a punkier set by locals Slowly Slowly. Where Erthlings‘ show consisted of soft, ambient astral-pop, Slowly Slowly’s set was all rock: full of crashing drums and Blink 182-like lyrics. All in all, a great lead up to Shark’s performance – Shark‘s own sound is a combination of smooth, feminine vocals and punk-edginess. Blink 182 member Mark Hoppus himself is featured in her album on the track ‘Psycho’, her third song of the night. Both of her opening acts are bands to watch: Slowly Slowly recently supported the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Erthlings have something magical about them that will undoubtedly take them far – their aesthetic is every artsy teenage girl’s dream.
Overall, it was unmissable night – but if you did happen to miss it, fear not – Amy will be back at the Margaret Court Arena on the 31st of May to wow us all again.
See Speaker TV’s exclusive photos of Amy Shark’s Melbourne show here.