I'm a comms officer working for a charity, writing for Weekend Notes for fun!
The coolest evening of Autumn so far in Adelaide was just that much crisper in the Mt Barker region at Ukaria Cultural Centre, where guests had gathered to take in Missy Higgins' performance as part of the 'Women in Songs' series curated by famed WA composer Iain Grandage.
People huddled under the verandah in winter coats, making the most of local wines and grazing on platters comprising local produce. Given the cool of the evening and the fact that it was dinnertime, the wood fire pizza oven sadly stood unused. We were told by the friendly staff that it was fired up for functions only, a missed opportunity perhaps.
Having seen Missy perform several times before, we were surprised by the profile of the crowd – mostly older people who were not your typical Missy audience. No doubt they were regular patrons of Ukaria, who were drawn by the promise of the reimagining of Missy's songs by Grandage, accompanied by a string ensemble.
The Ukaria venue itself is remarkable, a philanthropic endeavour established by skin care label Jurlique founder Ulrike Klein, and now in the safe hands of her children through the Klein Family Foundation. Purpose built as a chamber music venue, it was delightful to see and hear Missy in such an intimate venue comprising approximately 200 seats. She appeared relaxed and at home with a smaller crowd.
As the show unfolded, we were treated to the purity of Missy's voice and talented musicianship on piano, guitar and ukulele. But what made the evening so memorable was the vignettes she shared between songs, giving insight into experiences that inspired the compositions. One of the more touching stories was about the title song of her debut album The Sound of White, where the 'sound of white' describes Missy's retreat to her boarding school chapel where she sought solace in order to connect with a young cousin who had died from cancer.
The sublime acoustics and silky strings were mesmerising, and despite (by her own admission) a set list mostly comprising sad songs, there was plenty of levity. She described her daughter projectile vomiting, declared that she could barely play the song she had written for her husband on their wedding day, and acknowledged that she was missing the pregnancy baby bumps that provided a well-placed platform for her ukulele. Missy was charming, humble and provided one of the most touching music experiences I have had the pleasure to be witness to.
If there was one complaint, it was that the environment was not conducive to singing along, as we have done at so many other venues. But we got our fix on the drive home as we sang along to her hits.
Missy Higgins at the 'Women in Song' concert at Ukaria Cultural Centre