Review: Naomi Keyte at Uraidla Institute

Words and photos by Georgia Matthews

A Sunday Autumn drive into the Adelaide hills was only the beginning of a colourful afternoon to experience the live sounds of Naomi Keyte's Melaleuca album launch.

Uraidla hall had a well suited interior. Native plants scattered alongside seats beneath large arched windows that lit the entire room with plants draped over both amplifiers, one on either side of the stage. These reinforced symbols of Naomi's identity and gracefully presented a sense of place - quaint and original.

Kicking off the event was Adelaide soloist, Water Bear (Lauren Abineri), who guided us with her silky vocals. Pleasantly followed by Melbourne-based artist Open Swimmer (Ben TD), who melted the hearts of his listeners delicately strumming and revealing as Uraidla hall filled with newcomers. “It was an honour to be part of Naomi's album. Such a beautiful group of people to collaborate with. It was something special,” remarked Ben.

Plonking our butts on comfy cushions and sipping on Chilean wine by Cultivar Fine Wines, the hall was filled with smiles awaiting in anticipation. Naomi and her five-piece band took the stage with a beautiful set. The venue perfectly accommodated their acoustics drawing light and sound from every corner. Spectators could only be drawn in by their entity.

Naomi Keyte writes songs about people and places inspired by her childhood growing up in the Adelaide Hills. Full of imagery, her songs portray the intimacy and importance of nature and family. Picture Naomi's vocal style as a slowed down tempo of Hannah Shepherd (Airling) mixed with Big Scary's Joanna Syme.

I asked Naomi why she chose Uraidla to perform Melaleuca. “I hope people will enjoy this setting. Every time I drive up to the hills I remember how much I miss them. I feel like I can breathe again.” Shortly after “Limitless”, one of my favourite tracks on her album, Naomi continues to comment on how much she adores the Adelaide hills. “It instantly makes me feel at home.”

Towards the end of her set Naomi sang “Old Pines” off stage amongst the audience. The song details the memories of her grandmother. Each band member comforted Naomi with soft backup vocals as she took the reigns. Glassy eyes filled the venue and grew into applause.