I had still in my mind the sweet memories of last June’s Bushstock Festival. Australian indie folk songstress Sophie Payten, under the moniker of Gordi, played a fascinating set at St Stephen’s Church. I remember listening to her music with rapture, a sweet feeling that didn’t leave my mind for days, and made her name becoming one of the best things I have come across in music this year. The debut album ‘Reservoir’, out a couple of months ago via Jagjaguwar, just confirmed that idea that rapidly grew in me.
I couldn’t miss her headline show at Omeara, where the night starts quite early on a gloomy Monday. Czech experimental artist dné, is on stage when I haven’t finished my first pint. He plays his piano inventing melodies and shaping his music with loops of noisy counterpoints that blended together create an experimental soundscape, yet soaked in classical atmospheres. The crowd stares at the stage, whilst dné delicately plays some of the numbers included in his 2016’s ‘These Semi Feelings, They Are Everywhere’, alongside new music.
It’s a quarter past nine, when Gordi takes the stage. She wears a red velvety dress, it reminds me of the artwork chosen for her debut LP (“That picture was taken in Wisconsin, with minus 20 degrees outside, and I was just laying in a bathtub. My friends initially asked me if I was laying on a layer of beef…” she will state at some point during the night). She takes no longer than a couple of minutes to reach the climax. Her voice is soulful, deep and smooth at the same time. She moves naturally on stage, skilfully switching from her synth to the acoustic guitar, not to mention the effects on her microphones that make the atmosphere sound as ethereal as it does on record. ‘Long Way’, ‘All the Light We Cannot See’, ‘On My Side’, ‘Bitter End’: the best of her latest studio offering is on display, in all its beauty.
I was wrong when I thought Sophie might look shy on stage. On the contrary, she handles her audience with a great stage presence, lining up a few hilarious anecdotes about a difficult trip from Iceland to London to be playing the gig on time. Mostly, she lets her music speak, and for instance her live version of ‘Heaven I Know’, slowly built with loops, is celestial (no pun intended). She naturally resembles a folk singer-songwriter such as Bon Iver when she plays a bittersweet version of ‘I’m Done’, accompanied by a trumpet. Towards the end, then, there’s also time for a moving homage to the existence of Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington. Her own interpretation of ‘In The End’ leaves everyone staring at the stage, wide-eyed, until the lights goes on again.
Four months after that Saturday afternoon in Shepherds Bush, with a debut LP finally released and a growing fan-base, Gordi was able to make her music run through my veins, messing up with a wide range of vibes and leaving me speechless once again.