Live Review: Alex The Astronaut + Hachiku – The Factory Theatre, Marrickville (29.11.18)

Alex The Astronaut has definitely been kicking a few goals the past couple of years. From moving back to Australia, to releasing both of her EPs, to gracing the higher echelons of The Hottest 100, she has been flat chat. And in amongst all these feats, she’s still found the time to tour religiously and grace increasingly large stages.

Heading out nationally on her ‘Space Tour’ tour, the artist formerly known as Alex Lynn decided her stop in Sydney this time around would be at The Factory Theatre. Booking her set in on a Thursday night, she did her best to fill out most of the venue, whilst displaying the whimsy and oeuvre that has seemingly seen her continually crush her sets for as long as she’s been in the public spotlight.

Opening up the night was Violet. Admittedly, I missed her set (as a result of a combination of Sydney’s terrible traffic, my own poor time management and completely getting set times mixed up), however based off what I’ve listened to of her, she is worth the investment of your time. Her current single “Boxes/Houses” is killer, with a distinct goth and earthy feel to it. (On a side note, she’s terribly hard to find on Spotify without knowing any song titles).

Up next was Hachiku. The Milk! Records signee, her awkward on stage banter perfectly matched the type of music she was playing. Telling stories in between tracks about playing at her school formal, playing songs without actually plugging keyboards in, and not managing to quite finish a song after said keyboard fell off it’s stand, she masterfully commanded the microphone whilst managing to control the guitar and keys. Playing a couple of new tracks, her cover of The Cranberries’ “Dreams” was as magical as it was organic. It was wistful and dreamy; delicate and quaint. I loved it. Closing out on her biggest track “Moon Face”, definitely keep an eye out for Hachiku in the near future.

I’d seen Alex The Astronaut twice this year already (once at Splendour In The Grass, and again on the best co-headlining tour of 2018 with Stella Donnelly), so I kind of knew what to expect from Alex. Her ease on stage is matched by her banter and storytelling, which when combined with her actual song writing and singing, makes for one pretty special set. She’s seemingly always cheerful and ready to have a chat to the crowd; whether before, during or after the song has finished.

I’ve got a theory that you can tell how good the next set will be based on the intermission music played between sets. And when you run KC & The Sunshine Band’s “Give It Up” into A-ha’s ‘Take On Me”, followed by ABBA’s “SOS” and The Temptations’ “Build Me Up Buttercup”, you just knew Alex The Astronaut was going to be great.

Opening up with a song dedicated to all people named William and Georgia, Alex explained that it only takes three minutes to change your name online, before starting with the brilliant “William and Georgia”. Her post song banter was A+, as she spoke about going to the ARIAs the previous night, and how comfortable her velvet suit was. Moving into “Already Home”, she followed it up with a personal favourite in “What Sydney Looks Like In June”. A song that’s seriously too short, it was a very wordy and glorious two minutes.

Taking the time to tune her new guitar, Alex bought some time by telling a couple of, what were quite frankly, fantastic jokes (all of which I am sure to borrow at some point in the near future). Moving into “Waste of Time”, a song written for her girlfriend, Alex explained that she got into a little trouble for the chorus of “Waste of Time” sounding a little bit too much like Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ “Come On Eileen” (which, is an absolute tune in itself).

One thing you notice about Alex is how affable she is. A lot of her humour is slightly self deprecating and not all that serious, but it’s these qualities that enamour her to her crowds. Busting out “Caught In The Middle” (‘I play this here because it’s in the middle of the set. Get it?’), she went on to provide a little back story about how she managed to score her first ever live set. With the take away advice being that sometimes if you do something, sometimes you’ll get somewhere, she continued into “Rockstar City”.

Having promised to have a special guest join her during her Sydney set, out came Ruby Fields, which was great, but not quite as good as when she brought out Paul Kelly at her Melbourne show just the week earlier.

With both Ruby and Alex taking the time to cover one another’s track, they opened with Ruby’s “Dinosaurs”; a song with the best closing line of any song of 2018. High-fiving at the end, they knew it wasn’t perfect, but that didn’t really matter all that much. Moving into the happiest of sad songs in “Happy Song”, Ruby explained how much wordier Alex’s songs are. In hindsight, yeah, they are.

Up next was “I Think You’re Great”, a song that was evidently pretty self-explanatory. Asking everyone to hug someone who they think is great, it was the heartwarming moment of the night. Gracing the set with her cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, she swiftly moved into “Holes In The Story”, a song about an old soccer coach who was a little hard to read at times.

As the night began to come to a close, Alex explained the basis of her song “Banksia”. I remember her playing back in April on her tour with Stella Donnelly, and at the time, you could tell the song and its contents were still quite raw to her. She spoke about how sometimes when you play a sad song about a person you love, those three minutes gives you a chance to feel as though that person is still with you; even if only for a fleeting moment. It’s a bullet proof sentiment really.

Closing out on “Not Worth Hiding”, Alex told the crowd of the journey she had been on prior to and post the release of the song, as well as the success and stories that had come as a result of releasing such an influential and impactful song.

Returning briefly for an encore of “I Believe In Music”, Alex thanked the crowd for coming to the show and encouraged us all to be nice to each other and get home safe. It’s this warmth and sincerity that makes Alex The Astronaut a truly special act.

FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Alex The Astronaut‘s new single “Happy Song” is out now. Check it out below and if you’re in Perth, don’t miss her at the Rosemount tomorrow night, 1st December. More details on her Official Website.

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