Live review + gallery: Karl S Williams + Naomi Connell | Miami Marketta | 16 December 2021

Gold Coast storytellers Karl S Williams and Naomi Connell held the crowd in the palms of their hands at last night’s Studio 56 gig.

You always know you’re watching a consummate performer work a room when the audience sits or stands silent and spellbound. Such was the power of music on display at last night’s show, where you could hear a pin drop during Naomi Connell‘s simple and polished support set.

Naomi is something of a newcomer to our radar, but won’t ever be far from it now, with her honest lyricism and gorgeous, pitch-perfect vocals making a huge impact on the 80-odd strong audience. Her authentic indie folk charms were the perfect opener for an artist of Karl S Williams’ calibre, but she’s also well worthy of a headliner show of her own. Watch this space for more Naomi. She’s a must-see.

(Note: Our photographer didn’t make it in time for Naomi’s set. Pic below is from her Facebook page, capured by @onewayboulevard.ig.)

Karl S and band took to the stage with explosive, high-octane number ‘God Is a Bomb’, second track from 2020’s award-winning album ‘Lifeblood‘ and the perfect set opener.

It takes a great band to keep audiences engaged for a long set (what Karl referred to as a ‘super set’) but Karl + crew did the job easily, firing through the many bangers on ‘Lifeblood’ plus a selection of earlier works and even a cheeky new track, keeping the crowd by turns dancing, swaying and hugging until 10pm (we’re now super excited for the next release, just quietly.)

Whether blasting at ear-shattering levels in the full band format or just Karl on his lonesome at the piano and delivering country vibes on the banjo, every Karl S Williams set is a journey; steeped in narrative, a distinctive blend of sounds and always, those heart-piercing vocals. Highlights were ‘Bones’, ‘Never Let Me Go’, ‘Columbus Ohio’, ‘God Is A Bomb’ and ‘O Death’, but in an hour and a half, there were minimal low points.

As fiery on stage as he is quiet and unassuming in real life, Karl is an artist who clearly would much rather sing than talk. He doesn’t so much play his songs as act as a conduit for them, sliding around the stage, strings pulled by the great soul puppet master in the sky, seemingly unaware of anything else going on around him. Is a Karl gig a blues show? Rock? Gospel and soul, or some combo of all of the above? Who cares, really. At the end of the day it’s a foot-stompin’, fist-pumpin’, rollickin’ good time.

It’s great to see the masters at work. Follow Naomi’s page for gig updates and catch Karl next at the Raising Some Roofs Festival at The Triffid in January.

IMAGES: Casey @imagekre8

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