words: Katie Wighton // photos: Daniela Tantelo @dani.doubledouble
“Her voice could smash a window and she uses this strength to say a lot in a very short space.”
Ok breaking news. Jacob Diamond (REAL NAME OMG) is an ACTUAL diamond. Strong AF but beautiful and totally unique. I wish I could live my life the way he plays his songs. Overalls and messy hair. Unabashed and completely absorbed. Present and totally committed. How can one person and a guitar be so much?!
Even the lyrics “put me in the bin” sound poetic when they come out the mouth of Diamond. He introduces a cover of Joni Mitchell's A Case of You and I am genuinely terrified. That voice. That guitar. And then the SONGS, Jim. THE SONGS! Love heart emojis raining down on you at all times. Basically what I'm saying is that he has himself a new superfan. Gotta calm myself down before I EVER consider speaking to him because nobody likes a stalker.
As soon as Alice Skye comes on stage I'm happy because I love me a three-piece band. And then they start to play and I'm even happier because I love me a three-piece band with a PHAT sound. Skye has an angelic voice and she is both cute as heck and a badass singer. Her band leave a lot of space for all of the elements but their sound isn't thin or missing anything at all. I'm going to come clean and say that I don't generally love a piano sound on the keyboard but in the mix it works really bloody well.
Now I don't know what it is about Melbourne sound engineers but they seem to nail it every time and tonight is no exception. I'm reasonably sure this fellow's name is Toby Brennan and I'd like to give him a shout out. Sound engineers are the silent band member and they wield so much power. Thankfully Brennan uses his for good tonight.
Alice's voice in between songs is a little shakey which makes her beautifully vulnerable. But when she sings, she shows no sign of that uncertainty. She's strong, confident and powerful. This is evident when she introduces a song by saying “I've always been one of those people that has always been very in their feelings – 100% of the time.” Admitting that shows a lot of strength and that comes across in her music.
This leads us to the reason we are here – Stella Donnelly. I've got to admit, I've never spent much time with Stella's music. And that, my dears, is my own loss. Stella takes to the stage solo and begins by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land. During her first song I have the realisation that Stella Donnelly is an Australian, rock, Joan Baez. She is bringing politics into the hearts and minds of young Australians which, in itself is something to be celebrated. The most powerful of these numbers includes the lyric “You racist, bitter, bias, bigot” and I think she's hitting all of the nails on all of the heads.
Her voice could smash a window and she uses this strength to say a lot in a very short space. At the same time there is something quite delicate about her. Like a spider web. Strong and fragile all at once. My head is swimming as she sings “I did my best to love you, I did my best to stay” and I find myself sliding down the wall to sit. And at the end of the song she pipes up with “Cheers” as if WE have done HER a favour.
She sings with all of her body, diving head first into the music, pulling us along for the ride - I wish I'd been as sure of myself at 25. Her band joins her and for the second night in a row I am struck by the number of women onstage. It's incredible to see and hear. They sing and sway and close their eyes – completely absorbed in the powerful music they're all making.
Stella Donnelly is a 25 yr old torch singer amongst the Biebers of this world and that is sick. Add to that the fact that can sing the shit out of any song and writes incredibly relatable, often hilariously poignant lyrics and you've got yourself a serious winner. After tonight I am a fully-fledged Stella Donnelly fan – with a seriously strong desire to put ScoMo in in the bin.