It’s no secret that Victorians love live music. You need to only spend a few moments trawling the famed alleyways of Melbourne, walking the streets of inner suburban Brunswick, Northcote or Collingwood or drinking in the pubs of regional Victoria, to see this connection to live music come to life before your eyes and ears. Be it checking out that local band playing their first gig at The Old Bar on a Wednesday night, catching a local legend playing their fifth night at The Forum or attending one of the state’s myriads of festivals; going to shows is an integral part of being a Victorian. It is arguably as intrinsic to the social fabric of the state as coffee and Aussie Rules, with Melbournians particularly fond of their city’s reputation as one of the world’s live music capitals.
With Melbourne being home to more live music venues per capita than any other city on planet earth, live music is pretty vital to the economy as well. So when COVID-19 shut down live music, seemingly overnight, the fallout was devastating and detrimental for musicians, industry staff, venues, and fans alike. Necessity is the mother of invention though, so it’s no surprise that an industry built around creativity, ingenuity and connection, started dreaming up solutions to keep musicians performing.
Enter The State of Music, a six-part weekly livestream series put together by the Victorian State Government and Mushroom Group, to help keep the state together and in touch with live music, while staying apart. Featuring a mixture of household names, legends and emerging stars, each episode so far has featured multiple performances that will live in our collective memory bank forever. The episodes have been appointment viewing for us here at Music Feeds, but for the benefit of those who might have missed them, or those who just want to relive the magic, we’ve put together a list of the five most memorable moments from the first five episodes of The State of Music.
The first episode of The State of Music was home to some big names in the Aussie music industry, with live performances from Birds of Tokyo and Diesel and an in-depth discussion between host Rosie Beaton, Aussie music legend James Reyne and The State of Music series mastermind and Mushroom Group founder Michael Gudinski. While both Birds of Tokyo and Diesel crushed it, the standout moment of this episode belonged to G-Flip, who delivered stunning solo acoustic performances of ‘Waking up Tomorrow’ and megahit ‘I Drink too Much’. Stripped of the electronic production of the studio versions, the level of this Melbourne singer/songwriter/producer’s musicianship and storytelling was pulled closer into focus, shining the light even brighter on a special talent. ‘I Drink too Much’ in particular is so damn good! Check it out below.
Episode two of The State of Music saw special guest hosts Carrie Bickmore and Jane Gazzo who presented a stacked all-female lineup in honour of Mother’s Day that featured performances from the likes of Kate Miller-Heidke, Mahalia Barnes, Missy Higgins, Mia Wray, Montaigne and Vera Blue, who absolutely owned their respective moments. Special mention has to be made of the cover of the Jenny Morris floor filler ‘She’s Got to Be Loved’ by a socially distanced supergroup consisting of Abby Dobson, Deborah Conway, Emily Wurramara, Hatchie and Shannen James. While Montaigne’s acoustic take on ‘I’m a Fantastic Wreck’ wowed us with a stunning display of vocal prowess, the absolute standout for the show came from relative newcomer and ‘Discovery Artist of the Week’, Mia Wray who treated the world to a beautiful piano/vocal cover of Hellen Reddy’s 1971 feminist anthem ‘I Am Woman’, that left us speechless. What a voice! Check it out below.
Highlight: Mia Wray
Following episode two was always going to be a hard task, but episode three saw The State of Music bust out another winning hand with a show dedicated to Aussie music legend Paul Kelly. Featuring multiple performances from the icon himself, as well as an interview between Kelly and multi-talented creative genius Tim Minchin (who performed an inspired one-man-band style cover of Kelly’s ‘Most Wanted Man’) alongside stellar showings from Meg Mac, Alex Lahey and Mo’Ju, and a bloody terrific collab from Tim Freedman and Solo (Horrorshow) on The Whitlams ‘No Aphrodisiac’. While it feels like a copout to say it, this whole episode could be considered a memorable moment, but as we’re under self-enforced pressure to pick one highlight, we’ll go with the show closing supergroup jam of Kelly gem ‘To Her Door’ between Alex Lahey, Alex the Astronaut, Alexander Gow, Gordi, Meg Mac, Mo’Ju, Solo (Horrorshow), The Teskey Brothers, Vika & Linda and Washington, which was both awesome and a display of the breadth of Kelly’s musical influence in Australia. Check it out below.
Highlight: Paul Kelly Tribute
After an epic episode three, The State of Music continued its hot streak with an absolute belter of a fourth episode. Hosted by Jane Kennedy and Jane Gazzo, episode four featured live performances from Aussie superstars Andrew Stockdale (Wolfmother), Ash Grunwald, Didirri, Ella Hooper, Gordi, Gretta Ray, Hoodoo Gurus, Kate Ceberano, Kyle Lionhart, The Angels and The Teskey Brothers to name a few, who all came together while staying apart to create a genre-hopping super fun happy time that we’ll never forget.
A highlight of each episode so far has been the varied locations and styling of the performances and this episode was no different, with performers checking in from a myriad of locations, the most impressive of which was definitely The Teskey Brothers, whose two-song performance and interview emanated live from within the National Gallery of Victoria! Yes, really, the NGV. It was quite an experience to see The Teskeys doing their blues-rock thing in the middle of a galley filled with priceless masterpieces. The agelessness of the environment lending a sense of depth and warmth to superb renditions of ‘That Bird’ and ‘Hold Me’ that we so good my mother texted me immediately to ask who these Teskeys were.
Elsewhere Gretta Ray needed little more than an acoustic guitar and a special voice to make magic out of Kylie’s ‘Love at First Sight’, Ash Grunwald, Kyle Lionheart and Kate Cebrano teamed up for a riotous ‘Hammer’, Didirri flexed his freaking gorgeous vocal talents on a piano/vocal version of Hunters & Collectors classic ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’, The Angels brought in Dave Gleeson of The Screaming Jets and Ella Hooper to thrash through ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again’ and Hoodoo Gurus let rip on Triple M mainstay ‘The Right Time’. Every single performance on this episode was a can’t miss, but with all apologies to Gordi’s haunting solo run-through of Augie March much loved One Crowded Hour, it’s pretty hard to go past the Teskey Brothers in the NGV. Watch it now!
Highlight: The Teskey Brothers
With the gauntlet well and truly thrown down by the previous week, episode five of The State of Music faced a challenge to keep up the series momentum, but thanks to the depth of Aussie talent on the bill, they managed to get the job done in style. Hosted by Tim Blackwell and Jane Gazzo, episode five was home to live performances from stars The Rubens, Abby Dobson, D’Arcy Spiller, Fergus James, Jade MacCrae, Joe Camillieri and the Black Sorrows, Lime Cordiale, Mansionair, Mitch King, Nic Cester and the Milano Elettrica, Odette and Something for Kate.
Something for Kate had the honour of opening the show from the elegant surrounds of Melbourne’s Government House. Introduced personally by the Governor of Victoria herself, The Hon. Linda Dessau, Paul Dempsey and Stephanie Ashworth delivered an instantly memorable version of their monster hit, ‘Monsters’. It was quite the visual, seeing these Aussie rock icons performing in such non-rock surrounds, but it somehow worked a treat. Dempsey’s voice and turn of phrase remains a rare and special gift, and Stephanie Ashwort is, was and always will be, one of our favourite bass players.
Nic Cester then checked in from Milan, accompanied by his band Milano Elettrica and let THAT rock voice shine on solo single ‘God Knows’, Lime Cordiale seemingly took a time machine to a 1970’s lounge to bring us ‘Robbery’, emerging stars Fergus James and D’Arcy Spiller crossed the Melbourne/Sydney rivalry to deliver a gorgeous ‘Good Man’, Joe Camilleri and The Black Sorrows teamed up with Jade Macrae to put on a soul/rock clinic with ‘Chained to The Wheel’, Mansionair gave Silverchair’s ‘Straight Lines’ an intimate reading, Mitch King came together with multi-instrumentalist William Barton for an acoustic take on ‘Youngblood’ by 5SOS featuring didgeridoo and mouth organ accompaniment that was honestly, brilliant, Abby Dobson, Ngaiire, Paul Dempsey and Tim Nelson gave us a stellar group performance of Leonardo’s Bride hit ‘Even When I’m Sleeping’ and The Reubens closed out the show with special guest Odette for ‘Never Ever’.
Another one of those shows where everyone crushed it and it’s hard to pick a highlight, so we’re going to go the once in a lifetime route and give the nod to Something for Kate.
Highlight: Something for Kate
There you have it, the five most memorable moments from the first five episodes of The State of Music, all episodes are available now on-demand via YouTube and Facebook, so catch up on any that you may have missed, and then get ready to hit the couch with a bev or two on Friday night for what Gudinski has promised will be a star-studded finale.
‘The State of Music’‘s sixth and final episode of its first series will be broadcast this Friday (5th June), with an absolutely huge lineup of some of the country’s best. Head here for more information.
Feature image: Mushroom Creative House