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Review: CLARE BOWDITCH at The Workshop, Adelaide Festival Centre

Review By Lisa Lanzi

One of the many things I admire about Clare Bowditch, apart from her beautiful voice, is her utter human-ness. Her stage presence is honest and full of integrity and so is her life and general trajectory. As well as being a wife and mother, an author (Your Own Kind of Girl October 2019), ARIA Award winner and Rolling Stone’s “Woman of the Year” in 2010, she began Big Hearted Business in 2013. A creative social enterprise that wants to “teach creative people about business, and business people about creativity, in ways that make sense”. So much to admire, and such a pleasure to be in the audience at this gig.

Woven through with wit, heart and stories aplenty, this sold out performance was a knockout. A great support band played on most songs : drummer (and husband/producer/manager) Marty Brown, Warren Bloomer on bass, Xani Kolac on violin and vocals, Andre Warhurst playing divine lead guitar and Clare herself on acoustic guitar at times, or keys - her trusty wee Cassio! So much talent on stage but also great connection and respect between all musicians. My only annoyance was that the vocals were often a little too low in the mix, though this may have been different if you were standing elsewhere in the cavernous Workshop venue.

Bowditch quipped that Wednesday is date night and well, here they were, out - but working. She also reminisced about playing another much smaller venue in Adelaide and how good it was to return after a time. The first song, from 2007, was dedicated to us, the audience “You Look So Good” and gave Andre Warhurst an opportunity to dazzle with his lead solo.

The rest of the set was a mix of “old and gold” and let’s face it, after seven albums there is much this artist has to choose from. Divorcee by 23 followed (not a biographical song!), again with the band, with its floating melody and divine harmonies. After putting down her guitar Bowditch launched into If I Could Give You, a heartbreaker of a song again with beautiful harmony and a killer violin solo from Kolac: “If I could give you all of my love, I wouldn’t have to dance so much”.

In line with her ‘all in’ approach to life, Bowditch now challenges the audience to sing with her because if you think you can’t sing “it’s bollocks”! As she says, if you can talk you can sing, and we did. First we had a small call and response lesson “mama” then “mama mia” and then all of us launching into a small slice of ABBA. Our contribution to the next song was during the chorus of One Little River - the heartfelt call of “Go Go Go” while Kolac and Bowditch layered their harmonies over the top. This song was dedicated to all those who have “big fat dreams” and think we are too unworthy to follow them.

Among her many adventures, Clare Bowditch appeared briefly in the TV show Offspring at the urging of her mate Eddie Perfect. You Make Me Happy is the song and tears were shed. After this and dismissing the band Bowditch picked up her guitar once more and scolded the audience: “put your phones away, this is a hard song to sing”. Amazing Life is from the album The Winter I Chose Happiness and again, she urged us to follow our creative dreams. Bowditch herself hid away her talent for a while, not releasing her first song until she was 27.

After presenting a brand new song and her cover of the Crowded House hit Fall At Your Feet, we were treated to Your Own Kind of Girl with Clare on her beloved Cassio keyboard. This is also the title of her recently released book which speaks of body image, breakdowns, breakthroughs and the way we speak to ourselves and the damage we can inflict on ourselves. A darker atmosphere followed with Strange Questions, and another new song, both darker and rockier with the band truly shining. More great songs follow: Start of War with audience contributing the clap rhythm and Woman a new song celebrating the female. Finishing up with the utterly joyful, but un-released Let’s Go To Bed and an encore to sing along with, Kylie Minogue’s Can't Get You Out Of My Head.

It is always a delight to attend the performance of a much admired artist and come away loving the songs even more. The synergy of the band plus voice plus Clare Bowditch’s infectious humour and warmth is magical. Catch her live if you can!

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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