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Clare Bowditch explained to her audience at the Corner Hotel that this was no ordinary gig. Instead, it was to be an intimate night of random creativeness, conversation and a bit of music. Last night, Clare made her audience feel like they were spending an evening with a dear friend chatting, laughing, joking and listening to exquisite homegrown music. And Clare Bowditch was a charismatic host.
The Winter Secrets Tour is slowing making its way around Australia this month and last night was hosted at the Corner Hotel to a broad and captivated audience. It’s not often an artist can awe their audience so much that a pin dropping could be heard; Clare Bowditch not only possesses this skill but her delicate yet strong-as-iron vocals, poignant lyrics and enigmatic stage presence demands it. She has the aura of a 1940's Hollywood screen goddess and the audience hung on her every word.
The night was opened by Ainslie WillsSpender, no stranger to Melbourne’s live music scene, who gave the audience a taste of what was to come: fun, simple and thought-provoking music made by one artist and their guitar. Soon after, Bowditch flew onto the stage with her guitar, her usual 10-piece backing band absent, to appreciative whoops from the audience. She immediately made reference to her long, flowing, all-black attire, explaining she was in mourning and requested three whole seconds of silence for fictional character Doctor Patrick Reid, who sadly lost his life on her much-loved TV show Offspring this week; those three seconds were filled with many appreciative giggles!
Launching into her first song of the night, Amazing Life, from her 2012 release The Winter I Chose Happiness, Clare explained she used to attend gigs at the Corner Hotel at the age of 19. It was a time when she didn’t know what to do with her life, until she one night saw Jeff Buckley play and decided right then to stalk him around the country following his tour. She started writing this same song around that time, and only finished it for her 2012 release.
Clare continued through many tracks from this album, including You Make Me Happy and You Will Know, to an audience who did not move a muscle whilst watching and listening intently. Ever the comedian and crowd pleaser, Clare taught the audience harmonies to a few of her songs, most notably Your Love Walks With Me, which she wanted the audience to continue singing while she sang the lead. After a quick lesson, she explained that she would leave the stage, return and pretend she hadn’t given lessons to her audience, so any harmonic contribution they made to her next song would be completely ‘intuitive’. She is obviously an amazing teacher because the entire thing sounded amazing.
But the singer songwriter still had a few surprises in store. She brought on stage artist Jacqui Sterling, a competition winner who had scored the opportunity to perform One Little River with Clare. Spender later joined her on stage for the rest of the evening, providing harmonies and a few amazing guitar solos, and Ainslie Wills returned for a number as well.
The big surprise came when Clare welcomed Lisa Mitchell to the stage! Ostensibly at the Corner as a punter watching her friend’s performance, Clare saw fit to put her to work. The audience responded overwhelmingly positively to the musical additions to the night, definitely one filled with surprises and random creativeness… such as the Dutch teapots from Amsterdam that provided musical accompaniment to the last song of the evening, thanks to Clare and Spender!
Clare Bowditch’s professionalism as well as her abundant storytelling and musical talent shone through her performance on this Secret Winter night in Melbourne. Attending a gig like Clare’s leaves an audience feeling like they have spent an intimate and fun evening with their best mate, bearing witness to Aussie music at its absolute finest and most exquisite.
Photo by Carbie Warbie