Washington - Bush Hall, London
Australian Singer / Songwriter Megan Washington released her debut album I Believe You Liar back home in July 2010, with the collection going platinum soon after. The musician also received two Aria Music Awards for Best Female Artist and Breakthrough Artist, making 2010 a pretty good year for the lass!
2011 has seen Washington spreading her wings, with an international album release and shows around the world. I first became aware of the singer back in March at Austin's SXSW extravaganza. I'd had an afternoon of shooting bands and necking free beer and needed a rest for a few minutes so popped into the Convention Centre where the SX panels are held. I'd grabbed another complimentary beverage and required a seat so drifted over to an area where I could hear the sound of someone singing, encountering Washington performing solo with a keyboard. I appreciated my brief time in Megan's company but I only caught a mere glimpse of what the singer had to offer, so headed along to her official showcase an hour or two later, enjoying her full band set up even more.
Washington popped across to the UK back in April, playing a headline show in Hoxton that I was unable to attend so I was happy when she announced a full UK tour, with the final night taking place at London's Bush Hall.
It was no surprise to find myself surrounded by a horde of Australians in the crowded hall and they were noisy ones at that! It's been a while since I've come across an audience talking as loudly through a support act as they did at the intimate venue. At one point I even thought the constant babble was part of the musician's backing track, but no, just ignorant people! I suppose many may have been excited to see the evening's main attraction and she did receive a roar of approval when she did take to the stage.
The first few minutes of Washington's set weren't that rewarding for me as I was concentrating on trying to take pictures and getting frustrated by the venue's hideous lighting! They certainly had an odd set up as the lighting was coming from the sides, illuminating the singer's band members but not quite hitting the songstress as much as it could have, annoying me somewhat! I eventually decided to spend my time enjoying the show and was pulled in by storming versions of album opener '1997" and "How To Tame Lions".
The majority of Washington's music is keyboard led but she's certainly not an introspective performer as she prefers to stand while playing, throwing her body into numerous shapes, including perching on one leg on a few occasions! Her material does tend to lend itself to rowdier moments mind you as numerous songs seem to pack more of a punch live, including "The Hardest Part" and "Rich Kids', with each track finding Megan and her boys really working well as a unit.
Washington released an eight track companion piece to her debut in Australia back in October entitled Insomnia. According to her website, "The project is an extension of the themes explored through the closing title track on her debut album". Two of the best songs - "Plastic Bag" and "Holy Moses" have made their way onto the UK release of I Believe You Liar and both were played at the London show, with "Holy Moses" especially standing out.
One of the other highlights of the evening came in the shape of a solo run through of "Underground", with Megan switching to guitar for her rendition. The solo almost turned into a duet in its opening moments though as a very vocal girl towards the back of the room joined in the opening line "When I'm gone don't bury me", causing the performance to grind to a halt, with Megan exclaiming "Who are you? Put your hand up you're amazing!" surrounded by much laughter!
Washington ended her Bush Hall set with a truly tremendous take on "Cement", declaring it a song about Facebook before the song started. The track is one of my favourite songs I've heard all year as I love the F Bomb dropping chorus and its gorgeous middle eight. I certainly wasn't the only one enjoying the rendition as there were plenty people singing along and a couple of girls even legged it to the front to dance in front of the singer.
Naturally "Cement" wasn't the actual final song of the evening as an encore was called for, with Megan giving us the choice between a macabre sad song and or happy optimistic one, with the crowd opting for the more upbeat offering which came in the shape of "Clementine" (Not the Mark Owen classic TT fans!), one of Megan's earlier releases, possibly played for the last time and a nice optimistic end for a very good gig.