Lisa Mitchell at Howler (Melbourne)

In celebration of the release of her first studio album in four years, Lisa Mitchell is embarking on a tour spanning across Australia, before heading to the UK and Europe in the new year. Her first show, which was announced to coincide with the release of Warriors on October 14th quickly sold out, but not before we managed to snag a ticket. The four-year lead-up to Lisa’s return meant that the band room was filled with devotees, thrilled to be seeing Mitchell live once again with fresh new tunes.

First up was Dean Lewis, a Sydney-sider new to the scene who impressed with his track ‘Waves and original sound.

Next on stage was BUOY. Previously a pianist for Mitchell, she has moved to her own project with a more electric and industrial sound. Her presence was a fascinating mixture of peaceful and eccentrically energetic, chanting soft vocals one minute and jumping across the stage the next. Her voice reflected the delicacy of Mitchell’s, but was accompanied by heavier techno-pop beats which stole the crowd’s attention and filled the room.

Mitchell’s entrance to the stage was demure and elegant, as was her entire performance. Having seen her perform way back in 2009 I recognised the same serenity and warmth in her, always able to entrance an entire crowd without even talking.

The set started with her latest single ‘Warhol’, one of the funkier tracks off the new album featuring an oriental-style hook and Mitchell’s classic vocals with a pop edge. This was followed by the feature track and single which marked Mitchell’s return, ‘The Boys’. She used a wireless headset microphone which allowed her to move her arms in soft choreography, capturing the image of speeding down a road in a car full of friends which the song was inspired by. She had a smile of her face and closed her eyes as she returned to that moment while singing the chorus, “Driving cars with the boys, the boys”.

From here we were taken back in time with some tracks from Mitchell’s past albums Wonder and Bless This Mess. ‘Coin Laundry’ had the audience chanting along (and beat-boxing where appropriate), as did ‘Stevie’, ‘Oh! Hark!’, ‘Clean White Love’ and ‘Spiritus’. ‘Pirouette’ slowed the tempo down and was delivered with as much heart as when performed seven years ago.

The set list was a perfect mixture of old and new. There’s nothing more disappointing than an artist who avoids their musical history in an effort to grow, and Mitchell did nothing of the sort. She embraced her past two albums and brought the crowd closer to her by reminding them of the good old days, as most of us were in our 20s and would have been listening to her original album throughout high school.

The tracks off her new album seemed to capture a love story from beginning to end. ‘The Boys’ and ‘Warhol’ feeling care-free and joyful, while her stripped-back performance of ‘What Is Love’ alone with just a guitar captured the nostalgic sadness after the end of a relationship. It was an intimate and vulnerable moment shared with the audience, as was ‘Josephine’ and ‘I Remember Love’.

Though her interaction with the crowd was kept to a minimum and she did seem slightly nervous to be back on stage presenting the work of her last four years, Mitchell’s performance was flawless and touching. She hit chords with the audience in bringing them back to her debut album, and capturing intense emotion in Warriors. Lisa Mitchell is well and truly back.

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