If you haven’t had the chance to go to therapy lately, a Thelma Plum gig will do.
After a turbulent few years, Plum made a long-awaited return with her first headliner tour. Following the release of Better in Blak, she took us on the self-healing journey we didn’t know we needed.
Plum’s beautiful songwriting got the stage it deserved, joined by a three-piece band. Melbourne was lucky enough to get three sellout shows, and there’s no doubt Plum and her band have got this tour thing down pat.
It felt right that the show opened with ‘Not Angry Anymore’, the single that proves the greatest revenge is letting yourself heal and move on when you’re ready. The song’s upbeat tempo and catchy chorus were made to open a set.
Better In Blak took up a majority of the setlist, although ‘How Much Does Your Love Cost’ and ‘Around Here’ made very welcome references to Plum’s earlier works.
Before beginning the catchy call-out anthem that is ‘Woke Blokes’, Plum took a moment to deliver a quick message to the crowd. Her quick “time’s up, boys” got its desired response, but it felt cut short. It was as if this was the moment we’d been waiting for, to hear her call to action against all the bullshit, but it was quickly moved along before it had its chance.
Plum then took the stage solo with a green, glittery electric guitar to perform the slower tracks from the album. The added level of intimacy for these tracks really flexed Plum’s vocal talents and brought the show back to its heart.
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‘Nick Cave’, as Plum explained, is a song for any lovesick teenager bending over backwards for a less than deserving crush. Any and all broken hearts in the crowd found something to relate to here, and although it’s one of the wordier songs from the album, the singalong was memorable for all the right reasons.
The band returned for ‘Ugly’ — which, for a song with a pretty slow tempo, did a great job at picking the energy back up — before taking off with ‘Love & War’. Plum took on both sides of the track in the absence of Gang of Youths singer Dave Le’aupepe.
I love a good cover as much as the next person, but the 1999 country hit ‘The Captain’ by Kasey Chambers felt like an odd choice that left a lot of the young crowd a little disorientated. Plum’s voice carried it off perfectly, but it was easy to tell a majority had never heard the song before.
The show ‘closed’ with the triumphant single ‘Better in Blak’, and it was clear Plum enjoyed performing the cathartic and empowering tune. Her message of power easily translated to the crowd, who wasted no time joining in.
The show ‘finished’ at this point, and the absence of Plum’s hit ‘Clumsy Love’ did not go unnoticed. It was pretty clear Plum was poking fun at the cliché of fake endings and ‘surprise’ encores, leaving less than 30 seconds before returning to the stage.
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The crowd was treated to another two songs, as well as Plum’s tale of nervousness and mis-texting Paul Kelly. Closing with ‘Clumsy Love’, the track they worked on together, ended the show on a high note.
The show felt well-rehearsed, but that’s hardly surprising given the tour’s multiple back-to-back shows in the same venue. Overall, the journey of self-love and healing Plum took the crowd on had the satisfaction of a home-cooked meal after years of homesickness.
Highlight: ‘Nick Cave’.
Lowlight: ‘The Captain’ cover.
Crowd Favourite: ‘Clumsy Love’.