music

Review—Vera Blue, The Way That You Love Me Tour 2019 Geelong

September 28, 2019

Monique O’Rafferty

There aren’t many artists that I would leave Melbourne’s city limits for. When I was 16 it was One Direction. And today (21/09/19), it was the ethereal icon, Vera Blue.

Vera Blue is a project by singer-songwriter Celia Pavey. Celia appeared on The Voice Australia in 2013, and has metamorphosed from a folk-singing, guitar-playing queen into an electro-pop goddess. Vera played an intimate gig at Costa Hall last Saturday 21 September, bringing her regional tour to Geelong, VIC.

For me, it wasn’t a question of whether I was going, but rather: how was I going to get there — and bring my seven outfit choices? I drove down to Geelong, seven outfits in tow, blasting her new hit “The Way That You Love Me”, and brimming with excitement and nerves.

It wasn’t even my first time seeing her live. In fact, I’ve seen Vera Blue four times in concert: firstly, at Groovin’ The Moo in 2018 where I fell in love with her voice, and made the wild connection between her and my fave Team Delta member from the second season of The Voice Australia. I’ve also seen her at The Forum in Melbourne and at Brunswick Heads Hotel, near my hometown of Byron Bay.

This time, somehow, I got FRONT ROW SEATS!! How was I going to cope being that close to such a talented queen?!? So, I made the decision that, since I was going to be right in front of her, I would bring her flowers.

When I say that I love Vera, I mean I REALLY love her. I think she is the most incredibly talented person on the planet and if I had more time would probably be running a fan account for her.

So, I wanted to give her flowers for two reasons: partly because she loves flowers (I mean, have you seen her Instagram feed?), and partly because I wanted it to be like one of those fancy nights at the opera where the adoring crowd throws flowers onto the stage.

And, just maybe, she would acknowledge my existence and we would be best friends.

But I diverge.

The afternoon of the concert I spent about half an hour deciding which type of flowers to get her at this bougie grocery store near my Airbnb. Which bouquet was going to be cute but also survive a possible lob onto the stage? Eventually, I made my selection, and, with my flowers and a handwritten card tucked inside the wrapping, I headed to the concert.

The venue was this lovely hall right on the Geelong waterfront, which felt very relaxed and low-key. We were able to have a drink beforehand, and I got to pee four times before the show without having to wait in horrible, long lines.

Vera’s opening act — Alex The Astronaut — is possibly the most down-to-earth, sweet human alive. Her ability to write about everyday life experiences and highlight societal commonalities in a lyrically-engaging and captivating way made for a delightful prelude. I particularly loved the lyrics: “here’s billionaires for president, and parking fines at hospitals” from her track ‘Already Home’. After her performance, she even sat at the merch table outside, signing autographs and taking photos with fans.

Then, it was time for Vera to take the stage. By this stage I was a nervous wreck and for about ten seconds thought I might throw up — I was that excited.

Can you spot Monique in the front row?
Photo credit: @sheisaphrodite

Vera emerged in a haze of shimmering yellow to a teaser of ‘The Way That You Love Me’. She wore a sheer, yellow ensemble over a yellow bodysuit with chunky sneakers. I could never! With a cheeky grin towards the audience, she opened the show with ‘Private’, giving the crowd a first taste of her signature dance moves and vocal range.

Because the venue was so intimate, and I was front row, I was virtually sitting on the stage. There was no barricade separating me from the performance — and yes, I did think about throwing myself onto the stage multiple times throughout the show.

Since it was a seated concert, the show started with everyone sitting down in their seats. This felt a little strange, especially because the show is so high energy, but during the end of her second song — ‘Magazine’ — Vera encouraged everyone to get out of their seats and dance for the rest of the night. Even the mums in the back were having a hip-wiggle.

Vera played a selection of tracks from her album Perennial — such as ‘Give In’, ‘First Week’ and ‘Fools’. She also performed ‘Fingertips’ from her debut EP under the name Vera Blue, which made me hella nostalgic, and teased us with an unreleased track — ‘Lie to Me’, which was a BOP might I add.

What’s more, Vera didn’t just ‘perform’ these songs, she danced around the stage, and incorporated a tambourine, a sampler and multiple guitars, all the while making time to give her attention to her talented photographer @sheisaphrodite.

She played my all-time favourites — ‘Overachiever’, ‘Mended’ and ‘Hold’ — which sent my emotions into a frenzy. I lost my shit a little. For ‘Hold’, she stripped the song back and played an acoustic version on her guitar — which gave me major Celia Pavey vibes. My jaw was literally on the floor (I hope I didn’t swallow too many bugs).

I got to hear ‘Like I Remember You’ live for the first time, which was released this year in collaboration with Greenpeace to raise awareness for the ‘People vs Oil’ campaign (we love an activist queen). The song was hauntingly beautiful live, and left me angry at the world but also inspired to fight the power.

Vera also performed her newest single and tour namesake, ‘The Way That You Love Me’, which introduced an edgy shift in the Vera Blue project and, in my opinion, is very badass.

With three songs left, I began to get very nervous. I still hadn’t had the right opportunity to throw my flowers onto the stage. During the feminist anthem, ‘Lady Powers’, I made eye contact with her tour manager and managed to convey that I wanted to give her the flowers, so I knew I had a backup as I really didn’t want to have to throw them at her mid-performance.

During her final song of the night, and possibly her most iconic track — ‘Regular Touch’ — everyone was dancing their hearts out and I saw my opportunity. Towards the end of the song she came across the front of the stage, touching excited fans’ hands and thanking everyone for coming.

This was it. I held my flowers out with shaking hands as she made her way over to my side of the stage.

As she came over, I was incredibly nervous, heart beating about 1000 miles a second. I handed her the flowers and she kind of did a double take. She looked at me very surprised, smiled and said “Thank you so much”. Then she leaned down to give me a hug and it was honestly one of the best moments of my life. She then went back to the middle of the stage, bowed and danced off-stage clutching my flowers.

Left: Monique & flowers, Right: Vera Blue’s Instagram story

I was shaking, I was crying. Everyone around me was so happy and excited for me. Later, she took a photo with my flowers, thanking me personally, and posted it on her Instagram story (which I have now made my phone background — I hate myself). When I saw the post — and that she had reposted some of my own story on hers — I literally collapsed onto my bed screaming (I will probably never be allowed back at the Airbnb lol).

If you take one thing from this review it should be: SEE VERA BLUE LIVE! She puts on such an incredible performance — it’s like nothing else. 11/10 would recommend. Actually, listen to her music first and learn a few lyrics, so you can belt them out with her in concert.