After more than a year of uncertainty and rescheduled tour announcements, last night Gold Coast singer-songwriter Amy Shark brought her ‘Cry Forever’ Arena tour to the outdoor stage at HOTA, Home of the Arts. The diverse all-ages crowd turned out in droves to show their support and celebrate the return of large-scale concerts to the venue.
Support acts Teenage Joan’s and Evie Irie warmed up the stage and set the tone for the night with outstanding performances. The energized crowd then swelled up and moved forward to claim their spots in the standing area at front of the stage. Normally this area of a concert sees a younger crowd wanting to get as close to the stage as possible, but not tonight. In the audience, there were kids as young as four years right through to couples my Nanna and Pop’s age. Everyone was here to simply have a great night out and it was clear to see Amy’s music had a strong appeal to a wide mix of people.
Two young kids were in front of us perched on their mothers’ shoulders and when Amy kicked off her 90-minute set with her song ‘The Wolves’, they were frantically trying to get Amy’s attention singing the song word for word. Every time I turned my head towards them in the night it was the same, singing word for word with pure excitement. These kids and their mothers were true fans of our local girl and tonight they were watching their idol perform only metres away. Their excitement was infectious and they reminded me of my very first concert I saw as a kid – Human Nature at Twin Towns – and the joy and excitement music bring to us all regardless of age. They finally got their wave from Amy towards the end of the show and I knew that these kids would reflect on this night in many years to come. This is what music is about it brings people together.
The whole crowd joined in singing for ’Everybody Rise’ which was followed by a variety of hits like ‘All Loved Up’, ‘Psycho’, ‘Adore’, ‘Miss You’, ‘C’Mon’, ‘I Said Hi’ and even an insane rendition of ‘Mr Brightside’ by the Killers. Despite being in the spotlight for some years now, Amy is still pinching herself with where she is at this stage of her career. Her first words to address the crowd were “Well hello Gold Coast. I am in a bit of a shock that one I am home, and two how many people have come out and are standing here!”
Amy told many stories throughout the night and shared how she used to pay her fellow band member Brad Hosking in beer who is still with her now, and how she used to sit on Burleigh hill and just hope someone would take notice of her music and give her a chance. She reminisced that just five short years ago there was no way she would have believed if someone told her she would be writing songs with Ed Sheeran and playing them with Keith Urban. While telling this story she broke out the English accent to the crowd’s amusement.
While she shared many stories that were light-hearted it also was clear her journey has not always been an easy road and said “You can’t do this alone and need people to trust. I was begging people to believe in me and there were so many times I was like come on, just come on”. Well, tonight the crowd certainly believed in her and we were thankful someone gave her that opportunity to share her gift with us.
I took home a memento setlist from the night, which for many is a worthless bit of paper with random words on it. For me, however, it is a reminder of how essential music is to life and a culmination of Amy’s power, persistence, hard work, and hustle. Not even COVID can stop the music.
Words by Marlena Katene
Images (C) Simone Gorman-Clark