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Review by Ruth O’Brien
The bustling and excited crowd outside the Spiegeltent on Sunday afternoon reminded me of the calibre of artists I was about to see. Elixir (featuring vocalist Katie Noonan, and clarinet player, Zac Hurren) were joined onstage this time by Canberra local, Ben Hauptmann, to perform their latest release, Gratitude & Grief.
A collaboration with Michael Leunig over the space of 4 years, Gratitude and Grief, is an album sure to create a sense of familiarity and calm for any listener.
Opening song First Seed Ripening introduced the beauty and ease with which Elixir perform. Katie’s voice combined with Zac’s intricate yet heartfelt solos on the soprano clarinet and the warm tones of Ben’s guitar immediately held the audience captive.
The fluttering of the tent curtains seemed to dance along to the lullaby-like melody, creating a wonderful atmosphere and sense of comfort.
A favourite song of mine, and it seemed the audience as well, was a tune simply called Magpie. The lyrics, “as I pass the flower-bed, stick your beak into my head. Make a hole into my head, into my soul,” had the crowd giggling with a shared knowing of this situation and love-hate relationship Canberrans often have with these iconic Australian birds. Hurren’s solos and melody lines quoted the familiar magpie warbles, which added another lovely relatable feature.
The last tune of the gig was a touching tribute to the LGBTQI community of Australia with a very sweet rendition of Kermit-the-Frog’s, The Rainbow Connection.
Katie’s natural stage presence has been further strengthened over the span of her career. As a long time fan, I’ve seen her perform live many times. Her onstage banter with the crowd was particularly warming, sharing tales and elaborating meaning behind each song. Her self-confidence, grace, and sense-of-humour make each performance a unique and intimate experience. This show reminded me of why she’s such a musical inspiration to myself and others.