words + photos: Brittany Long
On a national tour together again after 15 years (!) Missy Higgins and John Butler Trio stole the show in what was a heartfelt reunion packed with emotion.
Saturday the 9th of February saw Missy Higgins and John Butler Trio join forces for A Day On The Green at the All Saints Estate, Rutherglen. The entire tour, dubbed the ‘Coming Home’ Tour, is symbolic of both John’s new upcoming album and reuniting with Missy Higgins, of whom the two share much history dating back to the beginning of their careers. The All Saints Estate provided the perfect backdrop for the heartfelt reunion.
The rain didn’t dampen spirits, despite the torrential downpour right before gates were due to open and thankfully stayed away for the duration of the show.
Joined by up and coming singer Stella Donnelly and Australia’s own Dan Sultan the two openers did not disappoint. Stella opened with ‘Grey’ followed by ‘You Owe Me’ which she preceded with the story surrounding the inspiration behind it being one about her boss, which had the crowd cracking up with laughter! Followed by ‘Season’s Greetings’ and ‘Talking’. It was her fifth song ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ which was the most powerful for me. This saw a deliberate change in tone and she got very deep and serious with the crowd; focusing on the importance of society not simply accepting that ‘boys will be boys’. Her melodic voice mixed with such a powerful and relevant message surrounding sexual assault and how we need to stop victim shaming because ‘it’s never the victims fault’ sent goosebumps through the crowd with the message that ‘it’s someone you know’.
In direct contrast Stella went on to share the hilarious story behind her EP Thrush Metal: “My grandma thinks I have a thrush infection… I made 30 cassette tapes thinking that my mum and my mum’s 28 friends would buy them… and stuck a photo of me with noodles hanging out of my mouth on the front – I never could’ve imagined how popular it would be.”
‘Tricks’ was a bit more of an upbeat song and the crowd “had a bit of a boogie.” Stella even mimicked the guitar solo with the mention that “I usually have a full band” which saw the crowd erupt into laughter.
She gave a special mention to John and Missy. Reminiscing being 17 and playing ‘Scar’ non-stop. With the notion that ‘Lunch’ would be played in tune, “which I didn’t do in Melbourne… fuck em” – a sentiment highly supported by her crowd.
Stella’s entire setlist saw her songs reflecting a lot on her personal life experiences, from bad tinder dates to everything in between. ‘Me To Me’ was my personal favourite with a really great tempo and relaxed vibe and special appreciation to Stella who absolutely nailed the vibrato and high notes, music to my ears!
Despite not being a personal fan of ‘Mechanical Bull’ the crowd did however seem to enjoy it!
With smoke drifting through the air, she closed with ‘You’re So Mean To Me’ to the sounds of clapping and cheering from the audience.
Next up was legendary Dan Sultan. He opened with ‘I’m Holding On’ which followed with ‘Kingdom’. And he truly showed us who the king of his kingdom is! That melodic voice filled with such power was truly a sight to behold.
Mr Sultan was definitely a crowd favourite and even had his own personal posse dancing at the barrier. He wowed with ‘Out Of My Skin’ and ‘Kimberley Calling’ among others.
The crowd shared the love with a bit of fun during the ‘kiss cam,’ there was pashing everywhere, despite a few awkward moments it was generally in good spirits.
The anticipation for Missy Higgins was real and she absolutely smashed expectations. Dressed in a gorgeous wine-coloured jumpsuit by Alpha60 and opening with ‘Night Minds’ Missy proved herself as a bit of a storyteller. Even before she’d been on stage for a minute a mention of her husband Dan saw him make a debut appearance with baby Luna strapped to his chest in the baby carrier. Much to her surprise and laughter Missy having been “upstaged by her husband and daughter,” to cheers from the crowd.
The crowd definitely couldn’t forget Missy’s name as it was behind her emblazoned in lights, not that we ever would!
Between each song Missy opened up, offering insight into the inspiration behind each of her songs. There was some really heartfelt stories shared. Her album Solastalgia was inspired by bringing children into the world and how becoming a parent changed her.
Missy is a woman known for using her voice to bring light to important worldwide issues and she definitely succeeded in doing this with her song ‘Starting Again’. She spoke about her fear of becoming a parent and taking on the responsibility of bringing a child into the world and the worry surrounding the sort of world her children will inherit, she made special mention of the issue of climate change to cheers from the audience. She shared about how she was inspired by the birth of her son and how he was her second chance, a chance to ‘start again’ and make it right.
Crowd favourite ‘Futon Couch’ also had a heartfelt story. One where she serenaded her husband Dan with a ‘guitar and a Colin Hay’s song’ on a futon couch after meeting him in Broome while visiting her mate.
On special request by her husband Dan Missy broke out the ukulele and performed a beautiful and unique rendition of KISS’ ‘I Was Made For Loving You’. A never performed cover song that saw lots of crowd participation.
There was an assortment of new and old from her love song ‘10 Days’ to ‘Peachy’ to ‘I Believe I Did’. The crowd were also treated to a special cover of Perry Keyes’ ‘New Year’s Eve’ which she turned into a party number much to the enjoyment of the crowd!
‘Song for Sammy’ was a song for parents and one which was a beautiful illustration about her personal joys and terrors of becoming a parent, a number of kids were pictured on their parents shoulders.
She saved the best to last with ‘Steer’ and ‘Scar’. Not only were they my personal favourites but also the crowd’s too. With one man screaming out ‘Scar’ for the entire set which Missy made a special mention to “this is for the enthusiastic man who hasn’t stopped screaming out Scar” which saw the crowd erupt into cheers. Let’s not forget Missy’s amazing band. On guitar she had Marty Green, Leigh Fisher on drums, Zoe Hauptmann on bass, Sarah Belkner on keys and backup vocals and Elana Stone also on vocals.
Finally it was time. After much anticipation the long awaited John Butler Trio took to the stage. The roar of the crowd was deafening. JBT opened with ‘Wade in the Water’ from their album Home then followed with ‘Tahitian Blue’ and ‘Used To Get High.’
Where Missy was a storyteller the John Butler Trio let their music speak for itself.
An audience incident at the front of stage saw an ambulance called and a woman stretchered out, stopping the show for a significant amount of time. Thankfully the girl was okay and gave a thumbs up on her way out.
Despite the disturbance JBT were straight back into it with living in the city. The trio then dispersed offstage leaving only John Butler himself. He played an extensive instrumental solo called ‘Ocean About Unity’ which saw the crowd getting restless. Rejoined by his band saw them play ‘better than’ before exiting the stage to chants of, “encore”, even though we all knew they would of course return, and return they did. They smashed out ‘Home’ from their new album, to thunderous applause before it was time for the one everyone had been waiting for: ‘Zebra’! They were joined onstage by legendary drummer Nicky Bomba, who is not only a very successful musician in his own right but also a past member of the John Butler Trio. Zebra saw a standing ovation and lots of crowd participation, there was even a giant inflatable seal being thrown in the air. The John Butler Trio truly brought the house down.
The lighting technicians must also be commended for their work for A Day On The Green; the lighting was incredible with rays hitting the musicians faces perfectly and smoke helping to enhance the mood.
See the full gallery of pics here.