Joe McKee live review

Something You Said reviewer Ebe Cassidy gets her buzz killed:

Last Saturday we saw Snowman’s Joe McKee who was launching his first solo album, Burning Boy, at the Grace Darling in Melbourne, an intimate space for what would prove to be an emotional performance. The emotions provoked were perhaps not those which we were expecting.

The small crowd had been simmered down to a sleepy lull by support band Melodie Nelson – the group wielding so many instruments they took up the whole stage, almost completely obscuring some members. The gentle low energy pop was pleasant but uninspiring. The group were obviously big fans of the main act.

Joe Mckee has a peculiar stage presence which doesn’t radiate comfort. Dressed sharply, his tall, willowy figure seems to be looking for a dark corner in which to be contemplatively alone. The feeling of introversion is mimicked in his music which is quiet, meandering and seems to drift in and out of consciousness. At the end of the first song McKee needed to prompt the audience to applaud as there had been some confusion as to when the song ended. Whilst this might have, in other circumstances, been humorous, self-deprecation does not seem to be in McKee’s repertoire – it was all very, very serious.

Joined on stage by his band, comprising of drums and keyboard, McKee himself played guitar as the crowd was gently pacified by predominantly hazy, sleep inducing sparse musical landscapes, complimented by his lingering baritone singing softly and anxiously about love in outer space, amongst other things.

During some songs, McKee would slink into the audience like a musical fox, the mic slung casually over his shoulder, and sing softly, apparently to himself as he drifted around the room. Sometimes he would simply turn his back to those watching and play his guitar to his band. To be fair, most of the audience seemed to be quite hypnotised by McKee and his unusual performance, the album’s title track, Burning Boy drawing much (unprompted) applause.

If you are venturing into Joe McKee territory, beware of doing so on a Saturday night, it might be a bit of a buzz killer.


Words by Ebe Cassidy. Pictures by Vinisha Mulani.