Australian darling Kate Miller-Heidke is known and loved as much for her extraordinary talent and incredible presence onstage as for her down to earth, easily accessible pop songs which reflect her overall appearance. That very combination is what has won her over a loyal army of fans, who supported her head-first dive into independence and covered the full cost of her first self-produced album O Vertigo! in record time. Her voice has filled opera houses and big open-air festivals, but on Thursday night she had her biggest London show yet at the small Scala.
The Brisbane singer appeared on the flower-decorated stage, with only her collaborator and husband, Keir Nuttal, for support. They started with ‘The Devil Wears A Suit’, and the audience was immediately enthralled. One thing became clear though, and it was that the venue, unlike the Milanese theatre it shares its name with, was way too small to hold Miller-Heidke’s glass-shattering, mighty operatic voice, and at times standing in the front rows felt slightly deafening. Yet no one complained, nor did she see it as an occasion to underperform, and her singing did not lose one bit of vigour throughout the night.
Another thing that became certain shortly afterwards, when Miller-Heidke introduced the duo, was that the crowd was entirely Aussie-dominated. “We are from Australia!” the singer proudly announced, and the room erupted in cheers and cries of the likes of “Brisbane represent!”, which were not uncommon throughout the night and made it all the more entertaining. The proclamations of love went as far as one member of the audience shouting, “Marry Me!”, to which Miller-Heidke responded with her typical sense of humour.
The set itself was a delectable mix of old favourites, such as ‘Caught In The Crowd’ and ‘Sarah’, and songs from O Vertigo! While the latter is not to be found on the UK market until early 2015, it was already released in Miller Heidke’s homeland in March this year, resulting in mighty sing-alongs during ‘Lose My Shit’, ‘Sing To Me’, and the album’s title track. There were a few surprises in store, such as Keir Nuttal’s improvised guitar solo during ‘Words’, and the appearance of Ryan Keen who toured with the duo last year in Australia, for the performance of ‘Share Your Air’, originally recorded with Passenger.
What really appealed to the audience, however, was the added stand-up comedic element to the show. Throughout the set, Miller-Heidke paused regularly to tell a story related to one of her songs which sent everyone cracking, my personal favourite being that of the attempted censorship of ‘Are You Fucking Kidding Me?’ by a US radio station.
Closing the main set with ‘Humiliation’ out of the singer’s darker, more toned-down 2013 album Nightfall, the cheers of the crowd promptly brought the duo back for an encore. Miller-Heidke performed her cover of Eminem’s ‘The Real Slim Shady’ that has become a staple of her shows for the past couple of years, which is as brilliant as it is ridiculous, followed by another Nightfall-taken track, ‘The Tiger Inside Will Eat The Child’.
Kate Miller-Heidke’s talent is undeniable, but it was also her collectedness onstage, her full confidence in her own ability and her perfect harmony with Keir Nuttal that made the gig immensely enjoyable. The gig’s sole fault was the size of the venue, as it is only at huge concert halls and open-air gigs that the full glory of Miller-Heidke’s voice can be felt. At the rate she is advancing though, and having already performed at major Australian and US festivals, I am sure we are soon in for some amazing performances by her on UK territory.