Paris Wells, Eliza Hull
Toff in Town | 23 June 2012
Eliza Hull emotes into the mysterious darkness of the Toff. Taking centre stage, standing between cello to her right and keyboard player to her left, her presence is assured by a powerful-yet-powdery sweet voice. Symbolised by the heart-shaped locket she wears over flowing black layers, Hull wears her heart quite literally on her sleeve. Saturation is pure melancholy. Hold On has great reverb and heavy keyboard bass over beautiful vocals; it could be the soundtrack to an episode of Dawson’s Creek. Ghosts is hauntingly sad, the programmed percussion providing direction and weightiness. Without Words brings the performance to an end with its swirling cello and emotional chorus. Hull has a stunning voice and extreme emotional resonance, but the audience needs to be drawn in past the heavy angst and immersed more in the introspective tension of this gorgeous music.
Between acts a red curtain is drawn, preserving the mystery. Paris Wells announces herself cheekily, “Just doing my own curtain,” then emerges to the laidback funk of She Won’t Say Much. Her onstage banter is warm and inviting, “Sometimes when the whole audience clicks it sounds like raindrops,” before running a quiz for the chance to win three pairs of damp knickers. Wells’ choice of covers is inspired: Sparkadia’s Talking Like I’m Falling Down Stairs suits her pop voice perfectly, with great vocal harmonies from the cute boy guitarist and keyboard player. Four girls who look like they work for Telstra are arm-in-arm swaying as they sing along. The naughty Fuck Your Soul invites dancing and shout-along crowd vocals with a keyboard riff straight out of the Stevie Wonder songbook. A mellow version of Kanye West’s Love Lockdown brings the mood to a simmer and keeps it there with Lonely before the belting disco of Through And Through. The crowd is here to worship at the altar of Paris, as one girl yells to another mid-set: “I can’t believe how awesome cool Paris is, wish I was that cool!” Get It Started is frenzied fun, and suddenly the vibe in the room feels very ’80s: a bit of funk, a bit of reggae, a splash of Madness and a pinch of Ian Dury. All pretense at appearing cool in the innards of the Toff vanishes as Wells announces, “This is a song I’ve had in my head all week,” and launches into Walk Like An Egyptian. The singing in the room explodes into noisy cacophony. It’s a hard ask to follow for the encore, but Wells is an entertainer extraordinaire. She finishes the night with Tender, crowd favourite Grace Baby and finally the happily ditzy Dat Du Dat. To much applause Wells exits in spectacular stageshow fashion: walking like an Egyptian. She is one charismatic sultry fox, a complete star.