On Thursday, the Aurora Spiegeltent thrummed with excitement long before local Adelaide artist and songbird Laura Hill ascended the stage. She entranced fans both new and old with a unique show.
Hill greeted the audience in a conversational manner before playing her first song – unaccompanied. She pushed herself to new limits with a powerful performance, tempered by her sweet voice and masterful use of the guitar, her fingers flying over the fret board. The energy in the room grew with each song. Her band mates joined her for The Secret, a new song inspired by her recent travels and the people she met.
What set The Songbird Sessions apart from any other show this season was the open and friendly collaboration between Hill and her band. These three musicians came from across Australia, each having worked with Hill in the past. Tom Richardson played the slide guitar, accompanying Hill with intricate twangy melodies. South Australia’s own Tim Bennett played bass guitar, while Juzzie Smith played the harmonica and percussion juggling balls with a flourish.
This unusual combination of talent and instruments brought new life to Hill’s older songs, and gave her the opportunity to explore new genres with original pieces – an intoxicating combination of empowering indie and soulful blues. It is rare to find a solo artist so eager to share the spotlight. The effect was unforgettable.
Ambience was created by a running slideshow of beachside and ocean photography by Darren Longbottom (Hill’s husband), projected alongside the stage. These acted as a visual accompaniment to the music and complimented Hill’s style perfectly.
In closing, Hill played well-loved Mexico with Me. She invited each of her fellow musicians to write a new verse, and heard them for the first time on stage. Hill laughed at Bennett’s verse along with the audience. She persuaded the crowd to sing along in an ethereal chorus, before singing the final lines “Do you want to come to Adelaide?”
In many ways The Songbird Sessions served as Hill’s homecoming after years of touring – and an opportunity to share all she learned with her fans.
Reviewed by Nicola Woolford
Rating out of 5: 5
Venue: Garden of Unearthly Delights – Aurora Spiegeltent East Terrace, Adelaide
Season: 12 March 2015 only
Duration: 60 minutes
Bookings: Book through FringeTix online or at a FringeTix box office (booking fees apply)