Joan As Police Woman
Sydney singer-songwriter Leroy Lee has had an impressive past few years. Since winning a Triple J Unearthed competition in 2007, Leroy has toured with Jeff Martin, Kaki King, Jeff Lang, Missy Higgins, Lior and Lisa Mitchell, performed in the US and been featured on US college radio. What becomes apparent towards the middle of his set is Leroy's proficiency on guitar; as if realising that his versatile, dexterous guitar-playing needed wider accessibility, there's now a greater focus on songwriting as expressed through his soft, breathy vocals and narratives lined in a heartfelt sincerity and wistful charm. Disarmingly humble and endearingly vulnerable on such a grand stage, Leroy expressed his pleasure in imagining - whilst armed with his acoustic guitar and harmonica - that he was Bob Dylan for three minutes.
Joan Wasser (aka Joan As Police Woman) is a captivating and mesmerising performer. Returning to our shores with her third (fourth including Cover) album, The Deep Field, the Brooklyn singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist delivered an intensely intimate, seductive and emotional performance. With Wasser's sultry, soulful voice, her expressive candour and musical prowess, the songstress articulates vulnerability with a rare grace and sensuous empowerment. Dressed in a striking black leather jumpsuit, Wasser's physical and expressive intensity left the audience speechless for much of the set. Although, after Wasser voiced her surprise at our silent politeness, a hysterical fan elicited an impassioned request for her immediate clothing removal.
Wasser's performance comprised thrilling shifts in tonal and stylistic dynamics. Joined by her long-time collaborators, drummer Parker Kindred and keyboardist Tyler Wood, Wasser moved easily between soulful jazz-pop grooves (The Action Man, Chemmie) and the rockier, heavy funk elements of Save Me and Run For Love. The latter is a slow-burning gem that builds into a powerful climatic force, but few would've been prepared for what we witnessed. The last few minutes of the trio's performance of Run For Love was the night's most emphatic display of boundless fervour and sheer genius. As Kindred's thunderous beats resonated deeply and lights pierced the atmosphere with acute glints, Wasser and Wood attacked their keyboards like possessed virtuosos.
But there was something remarkably potent in Wasser's solo performances, particularly Flash and Forever And A Year. In the latter - Wasser's most personal, gut-wrenching song to date - her voice was instilled with a weeping angelic cadence that left the entire room silenced with awe; the blood red lighting augmenting the aching lament. Wasser's encore comprised a moving solo performance of Human Condition before Kindred and Wood rejoined her for backing vocals in the closing song, Say Yes. When Wasser left the stage for the final time with declarations of gratitude and numerous curtsies/bows, the entire crowd was awe-stricken and smitten by a truly inspired and empowering artist.
Loved: Joan's soulful spirit, charm and musical intuition... The strikingly epic Run For Love and the heart-wrenching Forever And A Year.
Hated: Although a rather trivial matter - the limited space between rows.