Review and photo by Morgan Sette
The days are shorter and the nights are colder, which means that it’s time to wave a reluctant goodbye to this season’s Porch Sessions. Walking from the railway station, I could see a brilliant blue glimpse of the ocean and turning onto the street, I’m greeted with a view of neighbours on their front porches, colourful bunting and pretty globes lighting up the front yard of a comely house. This home was the setting of the very first Porch Sessions in November 2013, and now sends off the ninth and final session of this season.
Walking in amongst groups of friends wielding rugs and blankets, I head to the Cream stand to grab myself a hot coffee and look for a spot to sit down. Immediately, I’m offered wine, pillows and blankets to share with the older couple next to me, as well as friendly banter with those all around as we squeeze into a cozy evening at the home of the organiser’s parents. The smell of delicious food fills the air, people with wine glasses, craft beer and hot coffee are navigating those sprawled on the ground and I agree with the man in a t-shirt toting ‘Sunday’s are better than others’.
By the time Gretta Ray starts on stage, the yard is swelling with only more people showing up and spilling onto the street. She explains each of her songs before singing them, displaying a soul way older than her 17 years. The power shuts off conveniently just as she finishes her first song, ‘Don’t Let Her Love Hold You Down’, but doesn’t shake her confidence as she leads into ‘Long Distance’. Gretta explains that though writing some of these songs when she was 15 and maybe not being qualified to sing about this sort of heartache, her inspiration when writing comes from being able to take a story or idea and run with it. She covers David Meade’s ‘Nashville’ in her beautiful and pining way, I hear someone behind me say jokingly, “Go to Paradise Church if you want uplifting”. The vibes are friendly and joking as I hear one punter describe the place as a ‘cuddle puddle’, the audience laughing along with the artist and other members of the crowd if someone snorts or runs across the stage, crispy chicken wings in tow.
Tim Moore is next on stage, accompanied by Jess Hendrix from Conchillia. Starting off with ‘One Of A Kind’, he mentions after the song that Porch Sessions is the kind of place where the crowd hushes as soon as the music starts. It’s true, you could hear a pin drop as the crowd intently focuses on the music. Tim is a joker on stage however, telling a story about how the last Porch Sessions act, Jed Appleton gets too sunburnt after a show and had to head to hospital. Playing an older song ‘Heading Home’ and leading back into a newer song has the audience trying to whistle along with him. The rest of his set he has the whole crowd getting involved. He shares a beautiful explanation of how he has only released albums locally for now since he wants to sell it to people he’s probably seen face to face which hears a ‘wow’ from one audience member. He then leads into a hilarious anecdote of a goose and society.
Kyle Lionhart brings the people in laughing, drinking a cup of tea as he explains the brilliance behind a cord in his sock and his broken guitar. Starting with ‘Class A Girl’, he then quickly reveals so much about his life that leaves the audience humbled with his brutal honesty behind writing his music. He explains the context between the next song ‘Learning Together’. 'Slow Sips’ was next and despite technical difficulties and having to borrow someone else’s guitar, it was utterly overwhelming with raw beauty. Next he did a cover of ‘Hallelujah’. I’ve seen this covered plenty of times, but Kyle blew absolutely everyone away with his vulnerability and incredible vocal ability, and there were gasps in the audience from how touching this rendition was. He jokes about how his CDs are full of music you can cry to, and for sure the intimacy you feel with his songs leave you utterly absorbed. ‘Compromise’, ‘Plastic Hearts’ and ‘Sleep by Rivers’ had the audience in chilly, but blissful moods, all snuggled under blankets and at this point very chummy with one another. One couple in front of me all snuggled close with eyes closed looked as if they were being serenaded to sleep, until Kyle’s finale.
His last instrumental piece was awe-inspiring to say the least. Hoping, in his words, to wake the crowd up and leaving us saying ‘oh yeah’, he left us with an incredible mélange of inspired guitar work similar to that of ‘Ocean’ by John Butler. The couple in front of me had woken up and were wide eyed in front of him, the workers from Cream had knocked off and were dancing on the right of the stage. The talent, the wine, the delicious brownies from the Four Seeds - Adelaide Hills Choc Brownies crew led a wonderful night with plenty of the Porch crew to be proud of.