Togetherness and community led the way when Gawurra transformed Thornbury Theatre
It was in a reflective mood that I ventured to see Gawurra. The theme of reflection recurred throughout the evening prompted in part by the carpet in the Velvet Room which is the same colour and pattern as the carpet in the church of the small town where I grew up. On settling in to see support act Didirri, the sound was crystal clear. He played a series of his own songs in the manner of folk singer/songwriter and had the audience quietly listening. Finishing with a cover of a Glen Hansard song in which he got the audience to singalong. The audience was in fine voice and it was a nice end to the set.
Gawurra came to the stage with a didgeridoo player at his side. After a short introduction where he declared his mission to bring together Indigenous and non Indigenous Australians, he launched into a traditional song while playing clap sticks. Gawurra is originally from North East Arnhemland and sings in the Gupapuyngu language. He then invited his two daughters to the dancefloor and urged interested audience members to join them. Playing several short, traditional pieces while a handful of audience danced side by side with Gawurra's daughters. I recognised one of the participants from the deep, distant past as my year nine class. It's a small world as they say. Next Gawurra bought out his guitar and played a couple of his own songs with the lyrics in language before inviting his band on stage to join him. Throughout the evening Gawurra worked hard to engage the crowd through witty banter with his band mates and urging the audience to clap along or cheer for more.
His clearly happy and friendly demeanor carried across to the audience. His voice was sublime and although the songs were all in language, the emotional highs and lows were clearly communicated. Gawurra is now based in Melbourne in an effort to progress his music career and he clearly deserves a bigger audience and wider exposure.
By Anna Madden