Matt Corby, Avaberée, Natalie Magee @ Deakin, Canberra (2/02/12)

It was a warm and humid evening when we arrived at a house in a leafy inner-south suburb. Patrons were ushered through to a garden decked out in fairy lights and a makeshift patio stage – a small group of music lovers were fortunate enough to be attending one of Matt Corby’s coveted Secret Garden Gigs. Corby, along with support acts has been performing similar concerts throughout summer and this was Canberra’s turn.

The atmosphere was relaxed with a small, intimate crowd. The garden was filled with a sense of awe at having the opportunity to be part of such an exclusive and unique experience.

A hush fell over the excited crowd as local songstress Natalie Magee took to the make-shift stage. Surrounded by soft fairy lights her smooth jazz set the tone for the evening. Her unique voice and style, reminiscent of Adele and Missy Higgins, both of whom she sights as influences, combine to form her range of soulful heartbreak to hip-swaying melodies that invigorated the crowd. With songs like Perfect number 3 Magee proves that she is an artist that promises us great things.

After indulging in one or two of the delicious home baked treats on offer, we all settled back into the beautifully decorated garden for Avaberée’s performance, now under the cover of plastic ponchos.

Both crowd and band alike unperturbed by the soft falling rain as it seemed to simply add to the atmosphere the all girl Brisbane trio created. Aside from whipping out fantastic covers, Dance Wiv Me and a beautiful version of Justin Timberlake’s Cry Me a River, Avaberée’s abundance of striking original material demonstrated the unique vocal talents of all three members. Broken hearted Keep my Hands and the more upbeat The Devil can Hide in Snow had the crowd spellbound. It’s not hard to see why many in attendance were converted by Avaberée’s particular brand of melodic charm.

After the support acts Matt Corby took the spotlight. It is easy to see his appeal, coming off the release of his fourth EP Into the Flame and recent Hottest 100 success. There is a real honesty in Corby’s voice that tells a story. He transitions easily from an ethereal cooing reminiscent of Jeff Buckley to a deep soulful growl best portrayed in his heartbreakingly powerful song Brother. Corby shows his versatility through his seamless transition from electric to acoustic guitar treating the audience to lyrical and musical gems such as Big Eyes and mind-blowing covers of The Black Keys’ Lonely Boy and Amazing Grace.

Matt Corby has clearly established himself as a musical force and a live performance that is a must see experience. The intimate concept of Matt’s garden gigs create an opportunity for the crowd to connect with him as a performer and an atmosphere of really being part of something special.

I encourage anyone with the chance to go along to see Matt Corby or the support performers – it was an experience I will not soon forget.