Katy Steele @ Art Gallery of WA, Perth (27.05.10)

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It’s not every day you get to enjoy a gig at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, especially when the acts are as good as our home-grown Katy Steele, so wasn’t surprising to see the place packed out on a Thursday night in a sold-out gig.

Abbe May started off the night armed with a ukulele with a cover of Dream A Little Dream of Me which was enough to charm the crowd, but not enough to shut them up. It must’ve been a bit intimidating to be playing to a different kind of crowd. It’s not often you see the number of wine glasses surpass the number of beer bottles. This was not your average pub gig that’s for sure.

While waiting for Steele to arrive on stage you couldn’t help but wonder who had chosen the odd decor to fit the stage. Black feathers and skeletons and party lights, anyone could’ve mistaken it for a kids Halloween party. And then the lights dimmed to the sound of a presenter announcing Katy Steele to the stage. Wow, talk about star treatment.

Out she came in leopard print jacket and high heels looking all class and said “This is a shitload more people than I expected!” But since the big move to New York, it was hardly surprising to see so much support from her home town, since now her appearances are few and far between.

Giving the crowd a healthy mix of new and old, some of the hits of the set included newbies like Hideaway and Sorrow and Little Birdy classics such as Relapse and Beautiful which proved to be a sing-along favourite.

Keeping the atmosphere light, Steele didn’t miss any chance for self-promotion asking people to add her on MySpace because the only had a measly 85 fans only to find out that these days people are all about Facebook. She also wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, telling people to shut it when necessary. She isn’t without her flaws, that’s probably the best thing about her; how accessible she is. Such can be seen when she unsuccessfully disguised a bum note when playing High Demand.

Towards the end of the night she showed off a couple of cover songs such as Paul Kelly’s Every Fucking City and Sea of Love by Phil Phillips that were unsurprisingly well received. Steele used Brother to close her set with her father Rick joining her onstage with a harmonica.

Another one of Steele’s admirable qualities is how humble she is. When the crowd stayed on cheering for an encore she reappears stating that she really wasn’t expecting to do an encore and as such, did not prepare or rehearse for one so instead asked the crowd what they’d like to hear so they got a rather energetic choppy version of Baby Blue.

All in all, it was not a bad effort for someone who has not released anything since the big move to the US, a testament to how good she is and the size of her ever-growing fanbase.

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