Any lineup that has Claire Bowditch, turning in a typically confidence-filled, laugh-laden and stellar show, as an opening act, has got quite a bill. The story of the show is recounted several times: organiser Bertie Blackman texted friend Megan Washington and, as Blackman herself says ‘It was the shortest pregnancy ever, 14 hours from conception to birth. It’s the smallest baby…with the largest heart…shit that’s good - I just made that up.’
MCed in typically quick-witted and self-depreciatory style is the expertly chosen Julia Zamiro who does an excellent job of taming a very chatty room. As with Bowditch’s sweet turn, Tim Rogers has a lot of Washington fans talking though his rough and wonderful five-song set. Rogers peels through The Luxury of Hysteria, Heavy Heart and Berlin Chair with his coruscating voice emphasising his incapacity to not give something everything he has, a sentiment echoed by the crowd (if not the air conditioning) this evening, who dig deep.
Auctions include a punked-up Australian ‘God Save the Queensland’ Flag, designed by Blackman that sells for $1300, and a guitar signed by all the artists, which goes for $2000 contributing to the very handsome figure of $30000 which is made before the night ends.
Bertie Blackman, selling the show as an acoustic gig, confounds expectations by killing the lights, donning a black cape and delivering an incredible acapella Valentine before belting out a set of songs that have more in common with the electro-stomp of La Roux than anyone seems to expect. Against monochrome projections, Blackman delivers a killer version of Heart concluding a set that could have gone on far longer.
When Zamiro introduces Washington, it becomes clear how this show sold out with no publicity. Breezing onto the stage, and also heavy on the eyeliner like Blackman, she whisks us through a captivating set of highlights from I Believe You Liar, peaking with the closing, rumour-fuelling duet with Tim Rogers That Thing You Do; one very classy girl.
With an injured finger forcing him from guitar to piano, Dan Sultan is clearly a man good with his hands and seems to ooze charisma. His clear ringing voice silences the room, especially during Old Fitzroy and School Day is Over, while his swarthy sensuality prompts some to shout for the removal of his shirt. If only someone had thought to ask him to auction it.
Accurately describing the venue as a ‘sweatbox’, Missy Higgins is happier, and more charming than we’ve ever seen her. Versions of Secret and Peachy suggest she’s spent the last few years in Nashville and a rowdy, unrehearsed all-star version of Carole King’s You’ve Got A Friend brings a close to a very special night of music and fundraising.