in ,

REVIEW: Missy Higgins live at the Civic Theatre

Over the weekend, Newcastle was graced by one of Australia’s most iconic songwriters and vocalists, Missy Higgins for two sold-out shows at the Civic Theatre.

Her current tour The Second Act celebrates Higgins’s debut album The Sound of White which has just turned 20 years old. The tour has also acted as an introduction to her upcoming album The Second Act which from what we heard on the night, is going to be a (heartbreaking) ripper.

The show was divided into two acts, in the first we heard unrecorded songs written by Higgins during her time at boarding school and some brand new songs that go into detail about her current reality and what she’s been working through, including the breakdown of her marriage and the obstacles of communicating such an emotional life event to her two children. The first act was stripped back and almost completely acoustic with the occasional support from four of her band members who provided stunning backing vocals.

The night featured many candid chats where Missy would sit and talk to the audience giving insights into her fears and insecurities as well as her journey as a musician and the triumphant career moments that weren’t celebrated properly at the time because of how vicious the media were being to her female contemporaries.

I was expecting to walk away with some new faves by Missy Higgins but I don’t think anyone was ready for her new song A Complicated Truth which Higgins wrote for her 5-year-old daughter Luna who is currently asking lots of questions about the divorce. There was audible sobbing coming from members of the audience. This tune is sure to send ripples across the globe once it’s released. Another highlight from the first act was the yet-to-be-released song Blue Velvet that gave us a glimpse into her experience of NYE 2021 which for Missy was the day she knew her relationship was officially ending.

Despite the heavy themes, Higgins balanced the emotional weight with her characteristic self-deprecating humour, bringing moments of lightness and laughter. Her ability to switch seamlessly between vulnerability and humour kept the audience engaged and emotionally invested.

PHOTO: Rachel Rachel Music

A particularly bright moment was her performance of The Cactus That Found The Beat (aka Ed Sheeran’s favourite song by Missy Higgins). Higgins told us about the time she performed this song for her HSC and was met with harsh criticism of the way she performed it. This story was followed by a super camped-up performance of the song that had us all in stitches.

Missy closed her opening set with the title track of her upcoming album The Second Act allowing the audience to see into her optimism and hope for the next chapter of her life. It was also the first time she played electric guitar that night.

As we returned to the theatre, we heard an excerpt from an interview with teenaged Missy that was recorded a year after she won Triple J’s Unearthed competition which she poked fun at. Higgins returned to the stage in a white fringed jacket and some tailored shorts while her band members had changed into white dresses that were a sheer rendition of those seen in Picnic at Hanging Rock.

PHOTO: Rachel Rachel Music

The second act featured a complete performance of her seminal debut album, The Sound Of White, celebrating its 20th anniversary accompanied by a six-piece band. The band added new layers of depth and richness to the beloved tracks, with standout performances of Ten Days and Casualty, the latter featuring a riveting trumpet solo.

Highlights of the evening included the heartfelt rendition of The Special Two and the rousing and highly anticipated performance of Scar which had the audience singing along enthusiastically. The concert concluded with The Sound Of White a truly touching moment that seemed like a rare opportunity to connect with loved ones who are no longer with us.

Missy Higgins’ Newcastle show was not just a concert; it was a communal experience that showcased her growth as an artist and a person. Her willingness to share her scars and triumphs made the performance deeply relatable and profoundly touching. The sold-out show was a testament to her enduring popularity and the deep connection she has forged with her audience over the past two decades. As she continues her tour, it’s clear that Higgins will continue to inspire and remain a national treasure and songwriting genius.