MOJOS 3 FEB 2024
This is as much a personal reflection as it is a review. I have skin in the game I’m writing about. As always, my opinions are mine alone.
Recently, I listened to The Velvet Underground & Nico. It astonishes me that this album was released in March 1967. Given most of the record’s lyrical content is unashamedly about drugs, sex and coming down, it still feels like, even now in 2024, it’s ahead of its time. The centrepiece track, ‘Heroin’, where Lou Reid sings about wanting to nullify his life while the band plays a multilayered two-chord drone behind him, remains a masterclass in observational song writing.
Accompanied on guitar and vocals by none other than Carla Geneve for her what-it-says-on-the-tin set closer, ‘Get In Line’, Cecilia was never more raw, more loose, more immediate or more memorable.
Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground were no strangers to controversy and had the ability to polarise the media and the general public. You were either in, or you were out. Did they care? Reed certainly gave the impression that he did not and why would he dissemble in public when his lyrics made him such an open book? He perfected the art of not giving a fuck long before Mark Manson published his text, and his abrasive nature and diverse life were part of what made Reed a star.
Why mention Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground in a review of a performance by Walyalup artist, Cecilia? I’m glad you asked. Let’s see how we go, shall we?
Like The Velvet Underground in 1967, there’s no point trying to find a musical frame of reference for Grub, the current vehicle for the songs and vocals of Matilda Beales, who, coincidentally, wrote ‘Heroin Lullaby’ somewhere in her musical past.
In the modern vernacular, Grub are hella fun. They’re also searingly serious and that’s part of their appeal, their yin-yang approach to creating mayhem and punching through to the other side of whatever is in their way. It doesn’t hurt that Beales has wrapped herself in a monstrously good band that is capable of producing coruscating riffs, massive beats and country top notes drenched in feedback, often all in the same movement of the one song.
I still don’t really know what it was that I heard, new things usually take at least three or four listens before you can start to define them without being superficial, but I know that I liked Grub, very much.
I wrote about MYTHS recently when I reviewed their set late last year on the bill with Mayatrix and the Psychics at the now deceased Badlands. I liked their take on the perfect pop song then and, with every sampling, I like it even more. I’d go so far as to say that, right now, MYTHS are peerless in their channel.
Before tonight’s show I chatted with MYTHS’ bass player, Jamie Canny — who very much lives up to their name — about the redundancy of gender and our different ways of taking on the world and all its prejudices. My latest approach is to always carry a fork, Jamie’s is to smile sweetly and keep floating along that pavement. Each equally valid, although one is far less likely to end in an early demise.
Anyway, back to MYTHS…
They’re top of the heap. Go see them, they will never disappoint you.
Across all the years I’ve seen Cecilia perform live and in the last few where I’ve had the privilege of working with her, this artist has, above all else, been a consistently accomplished, beguiling and brilliant performer. Cecilia puts on the sort of shows that make people remember her and want to come back and see her again and again. And she does this while singing songs about loneliness, existential angst, the outer reaches of emotions, and having to force her way into prominence in a world that, mostly, would prefer to deny her existence. Cecilia’s songs are, like Lou Reed’s, scrapingly honest. But, until tonight, Cecilia had mostly let her music do the talking.
This evening was very different.
Playing to a home crowd, mostly friends and chosen family, Cecilia stripped away another layer of herself, providing between-song commentary that culminated in her saying, “I’m a confrontational person, I can be pretty brutal at times.”
Like Reed, Cecilia is polarising. Tonight, she chose to fully embrace that aspect of herself and invited her audience to contemplate another way of being that doesn’t require the fakery of never saying what you mean. This bluntness, along with the theatricality of Cecilia’s take on alt folk punk, is what attracts and holds her audience.
This evening at Mojos, with three guest guitarists — Edo Ekic (Old Blood), Chris Young (Psychedelic Porn Crumpets) and Carla Geneve — a new drummer, and reduced personnel on strings and harmonies, Cecilia pushed through to give the performance of her life. Accompanied on guitar and vocals by none other than Carla Geneve for her what-it-says-on-the-tin set closer, ‘Get In Line’, Cecilia was never more raw, more loose, more immediate or more memorable.
Cecilia draws songs like ‘Get In Line’ from her personal experiences and turns them into anthems for the downtrodden. And, who of us hasn’t been downtrodden?
Like Reed before her, Cecilia writes and sings about the taboos of existence and non-existence and, while she makes us feel awkward as part of the process, we are better for the experience, because she also brings the light that comes with the shade.
That’s why, like Reed, Cecilia will inevitably be a star.
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