A Live Experience with SOAK at Northcote Social Club, Melbourne 6th January 2016

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Image courtesy of SOAK Twitter

Bridie Monds-Watson calls herself SOAK.  Why, we do not know!… but what is apparent after tonight’s live experience is that Bridie is a brilliantly talented young songwriter. Heralding from Ireland, little Miss Monds-Watson has spent the last year frolicking the globe touring her debut, mercury-prize nominated Before We Forget How To Dream.  With support from Caitlin Park, another noted talented young electro-folk singer/songwriter. The team at Remote Control Records, sent us along to watch some young accomplished song-writing that was both emotive and charming.

Caitlin Park, is an idealist, a songwriter who takes on many personas, someone who prefers to take genres, flip them inside out and deliver them in her own way.  Releasing music for around 5 years, a quick google search reveals many journo’s struggling to really put their finger on the music this Sydney-sider creates, but after tonight’s support appearance, of which, was still a good 45 minute set, there is no wonder why.

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Tonight, Caitlin is accompanied by her nicely haired comrade, who takes the role of triggering samples and playing out some perfectly timed rhythms upon often intricately written songs.  Her most recent and successful album, The Sleeper, is a collection of pop-electro-folk infused songs, cleverly and well-produced in the studio, but no doubt quite a challenge to play live considering layers of looping samples, well-timed guitar licks and vocal harmony arrangements.

Opener, Wake Up In a Whirr is toe-tapping joy, but her most inspiring and captivating moments tonight are her stripped back songs taken from Milk Annual that really show the immense passion and ability of her voice, and it was an all round consensus for my little entourage that her voice shows perfect moments of Charlyn Marie “Chan” Marshall aka Cat Power with her tremendous husky and broad tone. Tic Tac Language is bizarre in musical concept that samples various languages and dialects while Park plays along in a timely acoustic fashion.  Unique, original and interesting,  definitely one for the fans.

Caitlin Parks is another testament to the broad landscape of Australian female that urges support.  With her intermittent banter of wet luggage and asking her merchandise friend to beat box to the audience, we are left with warmed cockles ,ready for Ms SOAK to take to the stage.

Following a quick trip over to Oz last April, Monds-Watson returns SOAK as a three piece, to build on her already commended solo efforts that still create atmosphere and depth.  Following on from her Falls Festival dates, tonight we experience SOAK play her debut with gusto and passion.  Quietly fronting the stage solo, with her acoustic guitar and a much-loved Sonic Youth t-shirt, it is apparent why SOAK was honored a Mercury Prize nomination, a voice that is angelic, heart-felt and earnest. Soon after her band collect their instruments and provide just enough backdrop to lift each song close to perfection.

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Blud, Garden  and B A Nobody identify the diversity of Monds-Watson as a varied song-writer with choruses that are instantly catchy and despite sounding a little paired back from the album, actually allow her voice to soar and make up for the lost layers that come from a studio production these days.

At this time we finally get to see the personal and charming side of this little prodigy, with banter about her experiences visiting Australia, taking the piss out of our accents (they all do!) and also her discover of the “goon bag”, probably not the most politically correct term for a cask of cheap wine but benefit of the doubt to her.  Her fascination with drinking out of a bag actually had us thinking that it was quite odd to think this may well be an Australian invention.  Well done us.  Anyhow, Monds-Watson decided to share the love and invited the audience to take a sip from her foiled back of joy when returning for her one song encore.  I don’t think she expected such a thirsty crowd to participate.  You can count on an Ozzie punter to do anything for a free drink!!!

soakHer more commercially friendly singles Reckless Behaviour and Sea Creatures were the obvious expected crowd pleasers tonight with their familiarity and catchy pop choruses, however it was the more delicate album tracks, like Hailstones Don’t Hurt and Wait that captivated and confirmed Monds-Watson’s songwriting and ability to draw you into to her young but deep view of life, even at such a young age.

After filling some of the audiences empty glasses with her cask wine that she had been carrying around with her all day, Bridie offers us her take on Bonnie Raitt’s I can’t Make You Love Me and along the lines of cover versions by Adele and George Michael, her touching version is heart-felt and unique, warming our way to complete this intimate night together.

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