A celebratory atmosphere and cerulean-lit niches aptly marked the arrival of pop virtuoso Celia Pavey, known onstage as Vera Blue, at Forum Theatre in Melbourne this past weekend; this is the last in a string of five Australian shows which together compose her Lady Powers tour. Under faint LED stars shining from the deep azure apse which vaults the theatre, supporting acts Kira Piru and Alice Ivy — both Melbourne natives — amassed and energised an eager crowd. In a two hour window, the theatre floor evolved from a spacious chatroom to a dense dance-off; the audience was set in motion by Piru’s sensational track ‘Tension’, and Ivy’s kinetic, sample-laced dance tunes kept things in motion. Her request to extend her stay on stage was met by enthusiastic cheers, and in the next instant, the venue was quaking with her final song, ‘Get Me A Drink’.
The anxious excitement which built during the following intermission finally dissipated when Pavey’s entrance was preceded by that of her three piece band on the upper half of the two level stage. Draped in a wispy white gown which shone with the light of the animated panel screens behind her, Pavey floated in from lower stage right. She brought with her a palpable energy that erupted in the electric chorus of her first number, ‘Magazine’. I was instantly reminded of Florence Welch’s stage presence at the 2015 Bonnaroo as Pavey tossed her red hair whilst running to and from each end of the stage.
Refined theatrics and pitch perfect vocal improvisation testify to Pavey’s extensive performance history and artistic prowess. After securing third place in the 2013 season of The Voice Australia and touring the east coast on the release of her 2014 EP ‘Bodies’, Pavey christened her moniker Vera Blue in September, 2015 with the release of her hit single, ‘Hold’. In 2016, the gold certified track was re-issued on her debut EP, ‘Fingertips’, which peaked at #72 on the ARIA charts. Multiple sold out tours, a massive collaboration with Illy, and performances alongside the likes of Flume and Broods culminated in the release of LP ‘Perennial’ in July of 2017.
The full length album represents an audacious shift from the comparatively subdued energy of her prior work. Pavey strut confidently in front of adoring fans at Forum Theatre, and raised no questions about the authenticity and power of her newfound musical identity. Whipping out the acoustic guitar, she displayed raw talent on tearjerkers ‘Pedestal/Cover Me’ and ‘Patterns’ but memories of the epic moments in which Pavey’s voice guided lights in unison through a glowing red fog during ‘Private’, or when an uproarious singalong was sparked by the infectious chorus of ‘Touch’ are sure to endure in the minds of those who partook in her performance that night. Naturally, the namesake of the tour, ‘Lady Powers’, served as the ultimate song of the set, inciting a dance party that will not be forgotten.