Pics by Katey Shearer
The rising star’s debut headline show was unforgettable.
In front of a sold-out crowd at Chapel Off Chapel on Sunday March 28, Jerome Farah stunned his audience with talent and charisma usually found in acts ten years his senior, never giving away that Chapel Summer Sessions was his first headline gig.
Shrouded in an ethereal glow and basking in the audience’s raucous thirst for live music – nearly as loud and electric as his pipes – Farah was captivating. Heralded as his first solo headline show, Sunday’s performance signalled Farah’s clear move into the spotlight, a space where he belongs.
Easing himself and the audience in with ‘Mikey Might’, Farah was backed by keyboard, bass, guitar, drums and powerhouse supporting vocals. Steeped in poignant lyrics such as, “Way too white to be a black kid, right?/Not enough to live that white kid life,” his opener was as sobering as it was the perfect joy-ridden kick-on for your Sunday session.
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Farah coyly drew his audience in as he grooved and bopped with his band, giving more when the audience wanted more and drawing back as his chords stripped the Chapel bare. As we neared intermission, Farah kept the mood light and familiar with ‘Sweet Caroline’, leaving his seated audience enthralled.
Each member of his band from keyboard to backing vocals were also given moments to shine. It was as if you’d stumbled into a jazz show at your local, where the talent is too good to be true.
The second half of Farah’s Chapel Summer Sessions show was something to write home about. Showcasing range and repertoire, Farah introduced brand new, never-before-heard music, including ‘Oh Jerome’ – a nod to the misconception that being a musician isn’t a ‘real job’.
‘Vibrator’ and ‘Laundry Day’ made welcome appearances, keeping the mood lighthearted and groovy, while Farah paid homage to his family’s Zimbabwean heritage, a broken heart and the weight of a family’s expectations across a lineage of tunes, including, ‘CJFever’, ‘Wholes In My Socks’ and ‘Daddy Issues’.
Through Farah’s show, fans got what they so desperately needed after an arduous twelve months off, as the talented artist interacted and bounced off the audience, delivering song after song with an exactitude that was unforgettable. Offering insights into his life as backstories to his songs, Farah had this enviable way of making you feel like his best mate, or a confidant.
As his eyes cast around the hall, making each audience member feel intimately part of the show, Farah saved the best to last with ‘I Can’t Breathe’. As he reflected on its timely and appropriate release, it’s a song that speaks volumes, dripping in political and racial relevancy.
Born out of anger and frustration, this song received the welcome it deserved, as Farah sought to change things up from the expected tempo. With eyes that seemed to stare into your soul, he looked to you and despaired, “Where there chalk-sketched silhouettes of brothers on pavement/Where there white boy raised and the black boy erased.”
With no encore, the final evening of the 2021 Chapel Summer Sessions extended for an epic two and a half hours and received a standing ovation.
As always, it’s these unique events tucked in the back of Chapel Street that are forever and always a testament to Melbourne’s unique music scene.
Value-driven, they offer up memorable moments in time.
Highlight: Watching an audience attempt to contain their inner fangirl, jumping up and down in their seat and squealing to ‘Vibrator’.
Lowlight: Sobering up to the realisation that it’s a Sunday, which means Monday is in less than 18 hours and kick-ons are calling your name.
Crowd Favourite: ‘I Can’t Breathe’