Falling for Washington… again

31 October 2017

Review: Megan Washington with West Australian Symphony Orchestra ◆
Perth Concert Hall, 27 October ◆
Review: Talisha Goh ◆

It was refreshing to see a younger than usual demographic at the Perth Concert Hall when Australian songstress Megan Washington gave Perth a sneak-peek of her newest album, Sugardoom (due to be released in 2018) on Friday night, accompanied by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra.

Washington’s honest, down-to-earth vibe makes her instantly relatable, and that is a large part of her appeal. As she mentioned on stage, her songs are all about love, but also about loss, longing, and the trivialities of everyday life. It might seem odd, then, that she has been paired with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra (and, indeed, other orchestras around the country as part of her National Orchestra Tour) — probably not a huge part of most of her fans’ day-to-day lives.

Although Washington took a couple of songs to fully warm up to the orchestra (conducted by Benjamin Northey), they became more comfortable in one another’s company as the evening progressed. Numbers such as “American Spirit”, “Dirty Churches” and “Catherine Wheel” made best use of the orchestral potential, with smooth strings and hymnal brass blending with Washington’s robust choruses and intimate coos.

Nonetheless, it was when she was at the piano, accompanied by guitarist and vocalist Alex Bennison, that Washington seemed most at home. On the piano stool for “Limitless”, “Lover/Soldier” and a rendition of Roy Orbison’s “Anything You Want (You Got It)”, Washington’s background in jazz came to the fore. Songs such as these seem suited to a more intimate setting, a smoky café with friends perhaps, although the venue’s synchronised mood lighting helped to bridge the atmospheric gap. It was in these pieces that Washington was most captivating, and one could be forgiven for losing track of time in these velvet night tunes.

Charming and humorous, Washington’s songs take us through various expeditions and love stories. At a time when some need to be reminded that ‘love is love’ (she refers to a time ‘when all the ‘no’ voters are gone’), her songs present an energising sense of optimism, brushing off the worries of the contemporary world. It is, perhaps, this sense of hope which has engaged her young audience, and rightly so, as we look forward to Sugardoom’s release, and falling for Washington all over again.

Top: The captivating Megan Washington performing with Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Photo: Christie Brewster.

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