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Angie McMahon Grows Into Herself on Latest Australian Tour

With McMahon’s new album coming up, seeing where she goes from here will be exciting. If her quiet smoothness at Northcote was anything to go by, she’ll certainly keep growing and realise her potential as a talented artist.


On the 28th of September, Northcote Theatre did not look that different from any other evening. A mix of Gen Z and Millennial passers-by donned with Baggus, button-up shirts, and caps were roaming High Street, stopping by Northcote Social before crossing the road. However, there was an exciting purpose to this horde: that night, Angie McMahon was playing the last night of her Make Mistakes Tour, a five-stop tour in LA, London, New York, Sydney, and Melbourne. McMahon’s home base.

McMahon has had several big years since the release of her 2019 debut album, Salt. McMahon has ascended from Melbourne’s best-kept secret to a rising star in her own right, with her 2019 song ‘Pasta’ being sampled in Fred Again’s 2020 song ‘Angie [I’ve Been Lost]’, and her 2023 single ‘Letting Go’ already experiencing a popularity that rivals her more established releases. Her Melbourne show was sold out, and with the release of her upcoming 2023 album, Light, Dark, Light Again, it will be exciting to see how she fares performing at Laneway 2024 alongside peers like Faye Webster and Teenage Dads. If Thursday’s show was anything to go by, McMahon is only going to get bigger.

McMahon begins the show by asking for the audience to take a deep breath, to which they comply. Despite being calm and quiet, McMahon was commanding, compelling the room “to just be in the space” as the birds recorded in her single ‘Fireball Whiskey’ begin playing. Despite the minimal stage production, McMahon was able to collapse the borders between the theatre and the outside, telling all to take a deep breath in and out. The crowd joined McMahon in singing the lyrics “like I could love you anytime,” shouting and whispering alongside her.

The show acted as a preview for her upcoming album, with her singing a few unreleased tracks as previews for her fans. From the snippet, themes of heartbreak, growth, and frustrations with what we can control are ever-present in this album, a natural and mature progression from her previous album, even if it is at risk of sounding too similar to her previous works.

The main thematic difference Light, Dark, Light Again has from Salt is the emphasis on the planet and how it interacts in her daily life, which is heard in more than just the sounds of birds and water heard throughout: “this is a song I wrote about …  I just think mother nature is intensely frustrated,” McMahon says before introducing the unreleased ‘Mother Nature’.

As the sixth song on the upcoming album, ‘Mother Nature’ is a song about wanting to thank the world around us for caring for us, even if we fail to care for the world back. In the song, she sings: “Please catch me the way you always caught me,” dealing with what can be an abstract fear of the planet's degradation as a tangible reality in her day-to-day life. This theme seeps further into other songs, with her singing in a song called ‘Fish’, “I start to feel like a fish in the ocean who has just been caught in the wire.”

The album and McMahon’s performance both differ from previous projects and shows how she feels more comfortable in her own artistry. Nothing about her sound and lyricism has changed, though signs of McMahon becoming more experimental can be heard through bird noises and water rushing. She has clearly become more confident in her stage presence, whether it's from the jokes she cracks or the calm strength of her voice in her effortless vocal performance. The upcoming album's opener, with lyrics like "letting this jaw loose, for the flow of the river” is aptly named Saturn Rising, the name of the astrological coming-of-age point. As McMahon continues, it is apparent she has come of age.

All that being said, a few performances of unreleased songs failed to garner extreme excitement in me. She lightheartedly defends the use of a vaccine metaphor for a song she wrote before “vaccines were so big,” clarifying her pro-vaccine stance, not that anyone doubted any other stance from her. For me, the biggest crime of that metaphor was not the potential alignment with an anti-vax politics, even if McMahon’s nervous joking was a funny moment in the show. The crime was the metaphor’s over-familiarity with other McMahon lyrics. It is another attempt to evoke an intense feeling for someone that borders on destructive, rather than pure love, but lacks a subtlety or complexity in its technique. This line that probably received more exposure than it should was a snapshot of a broader flaw of this show, which can plague a few artists’ sophomore run—in becoming and embracing your sound, you can get a little bit repetitive. I just hope McMahon doesn’t get stuck there.

With McMahon’s new album coming up, seeing where she goes from here will be exciting. If her quiet smoothness at Northcote was anything to go by, she’ll certainly keep growing and realise her potential as a talented artist.

Farrago's magazine cover - Edition One 2024


It’s 2012 and you have just opened Tumblr. A photo pops up of MGMT in skinny jeans, teashade sunglasses and mismatching blazers that are reminiscent of carpets and ‘60s curtains. Alexa Chung and Alex Turner have just broken up. His love letter has been leaked and Tumblr is raving about it—”my mouth hasn’t shut up about you since you kissed it.” Poetry at its peak: romance is alive.

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