This is Katie Stelmanis’ first visit to the UK with Austra and only her second ever UK show, the first being at the Windmill in Brixton only the previous night. Tonight Katie and her band, including the Lightman sisters (of Tasseomancy) on backing vocals take to the stage in a packed out Old Blue Last.
As the band sink into opener ‘Darken Her Horse’, layers of sparkling star like synths build up and Katie’s voice begins to immediately demand attention as the crowd hush and start concentrating on the stage. Before too long a steady beat is pounding and the song builds into a soaring, chorus before the tune fades back into the sparks that began it.
Following this is ‘Lose it’, arguably one of the catchiest songs of the year. Surely deserving of a single release at some point, the descending, vivacious vocals in the chorus deserves full concentration on the first listen. As the song continues the majesty of Katie’s song writing becomes clear as layers of vocal lines weave over each other, ending with three different lines on the final chorus all creating sonic revelry.
The layering of these vocals is the real power in Austra’s cannon, live there are three singers, with Katie taking centre stage and one of the Lightman sisters on either side. The twins provide an alluring back drop for Katie centre stage as they dance identically on either side the visuals become immeasurably haunting for almost the entire set. Inevitably Austra get to their incredible debut single ‘The Beat And The Pulse’ builds out of rumbling bass into a marching juggernaut of a tune, sending the crowd into a frenzy as Katie’s incredible vocals blast out of the PA.
The PA is the only gripe of the night in fact, as the band already sound too large for the Old Blue Last’s relatively meager speakers. The band go on to Heaven supporting Hercules & Love Affair the next night, I can only hope they soar into headlining these kind of shows themselves, they definitely deserve it
Words : Michael Woods