JULIA JACKLIN @ Astor Theatre gets 8.5/10

Julia Jacklin @ The
Astor Theatre
w/ Carla Geneve, Jacob Diamond
Friday, March 13, 2020


Friday the 13th was indeed a strange one! The government had just announced that gatherings of over 500 people would be on hold until the threat of the coronavirus passed. This meant that the evening’s Julia Jacklin show could be the last time that people would be able to see a band of this repute for some time. The mood in the room was celebratory (the forbidding hue would come a few days later) although there were a few less hugs and handshakes being shared amongst friends. The responsive and attentive crowd were well primed from the get go to show their appreciation of anyone gracing the stage. 

Jacob Diamond

Local genre-bending folk singer Jacob Diamond arrived looking like he had just got out of bed and thrown on an outfit in preparation for a hard day of laying bricks. It’s this unglamorous approach that makes it even more remarkable when he opens his mouth and a rich, powerful tone explodes from within. Diamond entertained with his laid back banter and sheepish grin when informing all that his parents were in the audience. Diamond showed off his vocal range to a crowd who weren’t deterred by some moments of thin falsetto. A solo set in the face of the impending pandemic may not be the ideal environment, but Diamond showed off his chops regardless. 

Carla Geneve

There is a boatload of buzz about Carla Geneve, who has been winning awards and dominating airplay. With a constant string of gigs throughout the country, she is road-hardened and exudes confidence from the second she walks on the stage. Not that long ago, Geneve was performing as a solo artist, where her tunes had room to breathe. She now has a band behind her and that offers a different experience. While Geneve plays her songs as if music flows through her veins, her band approach music as if it is something that they have only read about. Their sterile playing sucks some of the character out of Geneve’s tunes that sees them bordering on meat and potatoes rock too often. When Geneve lets her conversational style of songwriting take the front seat, like during current single Don’t Want To Be Your Lover, she deserves all the accolades. 

Julia Jacklin

It was about 12 months ago that Julia Jacklin played the first show of her Crushing tour at Perth Festival, and tonight she would play the last show of the tour that had taken her around the world. Jacklin appeared in solo mode for a downbeat take on Comfort with effortless vocal and pensive strumming on a guitar that had “I Got This” written on it. As the band joined her on stage, Jacklin lead them through an expertly crafted version of Body. Jacklin writes tunes that don’t scream out for radio play, and yet have found their way to the masses. It is a testament to her talent, and her performance throughout would continue to cement her class.

Julia Jacklin

Jacklin summed up the mood in the room when she said, “it’s a strange day for me; if I cancel i’m a jerk, and if I play I’m a jerk.” The band continued to work their way through songs from the Crushing album with each member adding a unique flavour to the tunes. Schoolyard friend Harry Fuller looked like Rick Springfield dressed as James Freud and had the dance moves to match, whilst delivering stylistic bass lines that grounded each tune without being an anchor. 

Sydney musician Blain Cunneen is an artist in his own right, but was happy to play his role in Jacklin’s band. His guitar playing was notable for his tasteful leads and knowing when to dig in, as well as the knack of knowing when not to play. LA Dream was stripped back and delivered in piano ballad form, Jacklin’s seraphic tones coming to the fore. Keeping with the mood of her own songs, Jacklin and her band gave an demure working of Leonard Cohen’s Memories, before captivating all with the night high point of Don’t Know How to Keep Loving You.

Julia Jacklin

Introducing Pool Party as a song about swimming and depression didn’t disperse the energy in the room as punters continued to lap up every moment. The ‘hits’ continued as Carla Geneve was invited to the stage to sing Head Alone with Jacklin, while appearing to be having the time of her life, before the band bid farewell with the upbeat Pressure To Party. 

When Jacklin returned to the stage she admitted she’d promised herself that she would end the tour with a particular song – one that she hoped wasn’t too cheesy. She got her wish, as the following night’s show in Adelaide was cancelled, so it was the Perth crowd that were treated to a ramshackle version of I Will Always Love You. As many would know from watching Australian Idol in decades past, it has a violent key change which Jacklin wasn’t sure she’d master without the benefit of any rehearsal. It may not have been her strongest vocal performance, but she made up for it with the amount of glee that she brought.

If this was to be the final gig before the apocalypse, then Julia Jacklin made sure that it was a great one!


Photos by Marnie Richardson