Live Review: Beabadoobee, Brisbane 11/09/22

Beabadoobee
(Image credit: Matthew Baker)

WHERE: The Tivoli, Meanjin/Brisbane QLD
WHEN: Sunday September 11th, 2022
REVIEW: Ellie Robinson

The Tivoli is a beautiful theatre, stately and regal with its art deco aesthetic, tiered standing platforms and bar staff clad in suits – a fitting castle for Gen Z’s indie-pop queen, Beabadoobee (aka Beatrice Laus), whose Brisbane show rounded out her first-ever tour of Australia. That it even went ahead is commendable: early on in her set, Laus admitted to the crowd that she’d been walloped by a gnarly cold. But we honestly couldn’t tell – not only did Laus power through the night with impressive energy, she absolutely stunned with her vocal prowess.

Part of that can be attributed to the use of backing tracks, but those never took the spotlight away from Laus’ own soft and melodic tenor, instead utilised to add depth and colour to the soundscape. As a whole, the mix sounded full and rich, thanks in no short part to Laus’ touring bandmates (Jacob Bugden on guitar, Louis Semlekan-Faith on drums and Eliana Sewell on bass). Where her songs often feel lowkey and roomy on record, here they were vivid and eruptive. 

Most surprising was how much of his own flavour Semlekan-Faith brought to the fold, amping up the energy with fills that erred more towards punk than Laus’ comfy indie-pop. It felt right, though, with Laus and Bugden both matching his fervour on their fretboards. Laus herself spent most of the set swapping between two Strats, one butterscotch and other a sickly neon green, with the former used for a bulk of her most memorable riffs (and a downright tearing solo on show closer ‘Cologne’).

Also worth mentioning was a turquoise Strat that stole the show on ‘Sorry’, where it enveloped Laus’ angelic singing with a tasteful grit, grungy and twangy and far, far under-utilised throughout the night. The acoustic guitar, though, was utilised perfectly: Laus first brought it out for ‘See You Soon’, where her and Bugden’s gentle strumming was contrasted by the sharpness brought by Semlekan-Faith and Sewell, and rounded out nicely by the unobtrusive synth tracks. She played ‘Coffee’, the first song of her encore, solo on the acoustic – it was expectedly beautiful, but damn near inaudible with her crowd delivering a singalong nothing short of rhapsodic; oh, the woes of going viral on TikTok.

Another track the crowd sung with fervour rivalling Laus’ was ‘The Perfect Pair’ – rightfully so, as it is the best song on Laus’ just-released second album, Beatopia. This was also one of the biggest highlights of the set, if only muddied by the strings being drowned out in the mix (unfortunate given how crucial they are to the song itself); Bugden killed it with the plucky, flamenco-esque lead, while Laus’ singing was smoky and slick, elevated by Sewell’s bold noodling. Fitting, too, was how brightly Sewell shone on ‘She Plays Bass’ (a song that Laus literally wrote about her).

Laus had her (mostly teenage) crowd eating from her palm on that track, whipping them into a frenzy for its energised salvo. But that could be said for pretty much all of the 18 songs she fit into an impressively tight hour – with two albums and five EPs under her belt (plus ‘Coffee’), there simply was no time for any filler. It was notable, however, that although the tour came in support of Beatopia, Laus’ only played four songs from it – half as many as she pulled from its 2020 predecessor, Fake It Flowers

This felt like one of the set’s very few downsides: ‘Ripples’ and ‘Broken CD’ could have worked to bring some more atmospheric beauty, while the youthful levity of ‘Sunny Day’ would’ve made it the perfect stinger to ‘He Gets Me So High’, the folky bite of ‘Fairy Song’ would’ve shone if it’d been slot between ‘She Plays Bass’ and ‘Dye It Red’, and ‘Don’t Get The Deal’ would’ve ended the set on a truly explosive note. Alas, there are only so many songs Laus can play in one night – until, of course, she starts doing three-hour marathon sets.

Overall, Laus delivered a show befitting of her stature, packed from start to end with hits and made unforgettable with her bubbly, charismatic attitude. It’s hard to imagine that her next Australian tour will be so intimate – there’s no doubt that Laus has arenas in her future. It doesn’t matter where she plays, though, ‘cause if all her sets are as good as this one was, you can bet your bottom dollar we’ll be there.


SETLIST:
1. Worth It
2. Together
3. Charlie Brown
4. Care
5. Yoshimi, Forest, Magdalene
6. He Gets Me So High
7. See You Soon
8. The Perfect Pair
9. Sun More Often
10. Sorry
11. She Plays Bass
12. Dye It Red
13. Talk
14. 10:36
15. Back To Mars
16. Last Day On Earth
17. Coffee
18. Cologne

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Ellie Robinson is an Australian writer, editor and dog enthusiast with a keen ear for pop-rock and a keen tongue for actual Pop Rocks. Their bylines include music rag staples like NME, BLUNT, Mixdown and, of course, Australian Guitar (on which they also serve as Editor-at-Large), but also less expected fare like TV Soap and Snowboarding Australia. Their go-to guitar is a Fender Player Tele, which, controversially, they only picked up after they’d joined the team at Australian Guitar. Before then, Ellie was a keyboardist – thankfully, the AG crew helped them see the light…