Renee Geyer

Renee res
Renee salutes the critics.

Concert Hall, July 14

She steamed on stage with the sort of feistiness that league players save for Origin games, and dared us to argue that Peace And Understanding Is Hard To Find. Then she throttled I Wanna Be Around with something of the conviction of the old Renee Geyer, and one began to think that, despite the ordinary renditions of many songs on her current (ill-titled) Swing album, the live show might work.

Both Alfie and My Funny Valentine were better than on the album. The former remains an odd choice, however, and the latter does not really play to her strong suits: she had to make it big to build intensity, where the secret lies in it being a pressure-cooker of intimacy.

But then Say I Love You took off. Geyer was singing with gusto and clearly enjoying herself against Dave Palmer’s boisterous arrangement for the 18-piece band, although it begged for more backing vocals than just those of her long-term keyboards man, Bruce Haymes.

Baby Please Don’t Go, the album’s best track, rollicked along on its swampy feel and contained a squall of tenor saxophone from band leader Paul Williamson. Even Somewhere and Fly Me To The Moon, neither of which became airborne on disc, had merit. Geyer turned Somewhere into a grandiose soul anthem, spiced with Graham Jesse’s alto solo, while her low notes on Fly Me To The Moon had an attractive puffy quality like sultry clouds, amid some minor issues of pitch.

Her old staple of It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World has not sounded this compelling for a decade, with potent horns and the expert rhythm section of Philip Rex and Kerry Jacobson providing the launch-pad.

What A Wonderful World joins the curious-song-choice list, while I Got Rhythm was the only piece to actually swing. Overall this was a striking return to form for Geyer, who has been a beloved powerhouse of Australian music, but who’s star had seemed to be waning.