Live Review: Mia Dyson
The almost-full Athenaeum theatre was buzzing as we waited for another highly anticipated performance from Mia Dyson . The theatre itself was a beautiful setting for the show - having seen Dyson previously in bars, pubs and clubs, it was nice to experience the intimate setting of a stunning space, such as the Athenaeum.
Dyson entered the stage with her four-piece band; consisting of drummer, Angus Diggs, and bassist, James Haselwood, and guest Liz Stringer on guitars, back-up vocals and harmonica. Dyson seemed truly excited to be there, stating that she had dreamt of playing at a theatre like this … for 10 years.
As soon as Dyson opened her mouth and sang a note, the crowd were hooked; her voice is truly something you’re not likely to hear elsewhere. It’s thrown out into the audience, hitting you straight in the chest, deep and gravely, yet soulful. It truly is a unique voice. Her songs were uplifting stories of personal experience, love and loss.
The band were tight and on the back of a three-week tour, and seemed energized by the show, giving it everything they had.
Stringer was a beautiful addition to the band, one that has only come to life on this tour, which also marks a goodbye as Dyson prepares to head over to the USA to finish her album and live for a while.
Highlights of the night were (deep track), ‘Cold Water’, and the rocking ‘Never Felt Young’, off her most recent release, album, ‘Struck Down’.
This night, Dyson stated, was a “family affair”, with all her family in attendance to witness her farewell Melbourne (for now). She dedicated the heartfelt track, ‘No Other’, to her grandmother (present), as it was written about her husband, Mia’s grandfather, who had recently passed away. She then went onto dedicate another to her mother, who was also in the audience. It definitely seems her family have been a very supportive addition to her career.
The whole performance held the audience enthralled; all of us feeling as though we were part of something truly special, witnessing, perhaps, a chapter ending for the blues singer. For the whole performance, Dyson carried herself with presence, and was really with us for the ride.
Other highlights were tracks mainly from albums ‘Parking Lots ’ and ‘Struck Down’. Tracks ‘Choose’, ‘With the Blue Sky’ and ‘Parking Lots’ were crowd favourites. The only thing I noticed during ‘Parking Lots’, was the need for people to get up and dance, the music was roaring with such energy that it was hard for people to sit in their seat.
‘Never Felt Young’ was also heart wrenching, with members of Jen Cloher’s Endless Sea on keys and violin onstage with Dyson. ‘Heavy’ was described as how Dyson was starting to feel, having been on the road for three weeks, at which point the band went on to joke that touring is like dog years in time. It was here Stringer got to showcase her harmonica work, and I’m sure Dyson would always love to have her part of the band - she really gave the music a nice flavour.
‘Meant Something To You Once’, was written about a childhood friend who used to smoke cigarettes and write poetry, and inspired Dyson to write. Mia mentioned she’d not seen her in years, but wished her well. The song was sung in a gut wrenching way, and knowing the meaning of it gave it a new light.
Dyson ended with her most recent single, ‘You and Me’, a rocking anthem where it was great to see the mutual respect between all musicians onstage. After the set, the audience applauded for an encore, where Dyson was able to showcase her new material that, she stated, would be on her new album.
Oddly enough, Dyson played those new songs on keys (something new for her) and while she seemed a little nervous, got though them with ease, telling the audience her keyboard was her new lap steel. One of the tracks she sang was the lyrics of a Robert Frost poem, which made for a beautiful adaptation.
Subsequently, most in attendance will be looking forward to her new album, as these tracks were a great indication that the album is going to be another big step for her career.
It’s hard to ever describe the voice of Dyson, or to say who she sounds like, or what she sounds like. She is unique, an old soul. Tonight she was able to really shine; she left me feeling extremely privileged to have witnessed such a memorable performance.