Totally, Totally, Totally Biased Fan Review: Iris Dement at The Factory Theatre, Marrickville, NSW


Friday, 29th May, 2015


I added a few more “Totallies” to the normally Totally Biased Review title, because I have loved this artist for a long time and it was such a wonderful blessing even just being there in the theatre. I don’t get to see many international artists these days because they tend to cost what I would spend on an entire holiday or my week in rent. Thankfully, this was in my price range and I was able to enjoy three and a half hours of wonderful music.

Former Vegas born gal, Jen Mize, opened the show at 7.30. She now lives on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland and she is married to an Aussie. There weren’t many punters in at this stage, and I was a bit worried for Iris, but I didn’t have to be. Despite a few gasps from the crowd with one of the lines of one of Jen’s songs, she went down pretty well as the warm up act.

Pieta Brown was the support and by this time, the place was full to overflowing. Pieta is the daughter of Greg Brown, a well known songwriter, who just happens to be the husband of Iris Dement. Pieta is a star in her own right, with a gentle sense of humour, a sweet voice and a batch of songs that she can be proud of.

Each of these girls just stood on the stage with a guitar. They were both great entrees to the main course.

Iris enters without introduction, just a smile. She sits down at a baby grand piano and she plays and wows the audience with every song. She sang songs that made us smile, laugh, cry and think. With a new interest in Russian Literature, she sang some songs based on the works of a Russian poet, and a song which she based on Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard which was amazing.

Iris’s songs are very generous reflections of her life, which has been both sad and rich in interesting adventures. Every song tells a story and most of them are her own.

I was trying to describe Iris and her music to my colleagues during the week and it was not an easy thing to do, because in many ways, Iris is an original. The closest comparison that I could get was probably Emmylou Harris. Catherine Britt toured with Iris last year and I wish that I had been able to get to one of those shows. Catherine is probably Australia’s best match to Iris. Having said that, it is Iris’s uniqueness that first attracted me to her music.

She has a wonderful sense of humour too. She told us how she has been drinking numerous flat whites since she has been in Australia, though she wasn’t quite sure what they were and she thought that without them she could have ended up being a flat white herself. She wore a dress that she bought in Australia and after saying that only got about a third of the audience clapping. She was thinking that we didn’t like the dress and that had everyone laughing and clapping. She competed with the planes (The Factory Theatre is in the direct flight path from the airport), which she thought were trains at first until the crowd set her right and she thanked God that they were planes instead of trains.

She made a comment about Aussies living in the moment. She was pleased that the majority of the crowd were just watching everything live and not taking photos all the time. She said that we could take some at the end when she was all hot and sweaty if we wanted to. I was a bit too far away from the stage to take photos, but the memories of that night will last forever.

I thought that it was interesting that she didn’t sing Our Town, Infamous Angel and her other well known songs. A lot of the songs that she sung were album songs and some of her new stuff. She even sang That’s how love goes.  I thought that maybe she would sing Our Town and Infamous Angel in the encore, and feared that she wouldn’t sing My Life (my favourite) because it was a bit more of an obscure song.

She brought Pieta back on stage and they sang one of Greg’s songs and another song, with their guitars. After a lengthy audience applause, she came back on and she sang it…..I cried, unashamedly, because My Life is such a beautiful song. Thankfully, the lady who sat next to me cried too and I didn’t feel too silly. I have tears in my eyes as I write this, because it is such a beautiful moment. She didn’t sing Our Town and Infamous Angel in the encore, but she did give us three songs.

The crowd gave her a standing ovation and I am pretty sure that she was a bit shocked by the reaction.

It was a special night. It finished at 11 and I was surprised, I didn’t think that it was that late.

Thank you, Iris, it was magical. I hope that your twenty hour flight home wasn’t/isn’t too bad.

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