Live Review: Gretta Ray Debuts Dazzling National Tour In Brisbane

GRETTA RAY | KAT EDWARDS

THE OUTPOST

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 2ND 2022


Gretta Ray released her debut album - Begin To Look Around - almost a year ago, but one gets the sense that she's been dreaming about it for her entire life. Actually, she's probably expressed this out loud many times. It is a debut album on which Gretta bares her all - every emotion, up, down, tear and smile and she doesn't shy away from any single emotion. But to dream about this forever and then eventually come to release, and it's in the middle of a global pandemic?! Well that there has to be some of the most anxiety-inducing stuff for any young musician. Gretta, however, has seemingly taken it in her stride and has kept us all captivated and rooting for her ongoingly as her agents booked and re-booked and re-booked again this headline tour. Finally the night has come and strong sales has gone and filled one show already and pushed opening night forward making tonight the FIRST show of the whole tour.

Kat Edwards (I: @katedwards__)

Hobart’s Kat Edwards is warming rooms for the entirety of this tour and "warm" is certainly an appropriate word for the young musician. Armed with just an electric guitar (she usually plays with a band), her dulcet tones fill all corners of the room beautifully, her clear charm paving the way for her excellent and memorable songs, while her voice is a little reminiscent of and possesses flourishes of Angie McMahon here and there. Like any young woman, she has stories of douche bag exes and manages to candidly yet sensitively squeeze them into her lyrics. She has a story or two to tell and is captivating throughout her set. She describes Gretta as "a ray of sunshine" and she isn't wrong....


It's no secret we adore Gretta Ray around these parts. Begin To Look Around was our first ever Feature Record and we had the chance to chat to her for that and, Kat's exactly right, she is a ray of sunshine. If any one young individual in Australian music can become a household name in a hurry, it's Gretta Ray - she's born for this game and has the consummate "talent for having talent" required to get there. Her show begins just like her album -- with an airy instrumental called 'Becoming' -- with just enough time for the band to slip onto stage and into 'Passion', the first single from Begin To Like Around. The drama of the song is quite the setting for www.instagram.com/josh_pulford

Gretta Ray in full flight. Photo by Josh Pulford (I: @josh_pulford)

Gretta's theatrics to begin. Pure and simple, she was seemingly born on a stage, she's that good and that comfortable. Not motionless for a single moment and smiling from ear to ear constantly, she dances and struts, never missing a single note, and owns the stage much like Sasha Fierce herself. The setlist leans heavily on the album, but also runs surprisingly deep with 2016's 'Unwind' and 2018's 'Radio Silence' slipping in perfectly between the likes of 'Readymade', highlight 'Cherish', 'Human', 'The Brink' and 'The Cure'. Lots of these songs seem made for the stage, close your eyes for long enough and you can envision that stage growing rapidly.


She displays clear and very real joy for being here, a veteran-like approach to stagecraft and blatant talent for executing it all. She's charming and is overflowing with deep emotion and an uncanny knack for threading the set together with candid antidotes of love, love lost and uplifting renewal.


Switching it up briefly somewhere in the middle, she dons an acoustic guitar for a brand new song called 'Dear 17' which, she confesses, is the first song she's written alone in very long time. Now we're already well aware that she's no songwriting slouch, but this song is ridiculously good. Outlining her journey in the music industry since she broke through and won the triple j Unearthed competition, the song is everything the rest of the set isn't - intimate, quietly captivating, simultaneously funny and devastating and very sweet. Gab Strum returns back to stage for her recent viral cover of Billy Joel's 'Vienna' before the band returns for the Like A Version cover of Gang Of Youths' 'The Deepest Sighs, The Frankest Shadows.'

Getting to the business end of the set, Gretta enlists the crowd for backing vocals on 'Bigger Than Me', perfectly shuns a wince and a disgusting audience member who asks for free tickets to tomorrow's show and shifts gears almost completely for the clear golden "oldie" and award-winning 'Drive', again with sing along en masse. Clearly Gretta's own favourite and dancefloor baby 'Love Me Right' closes the main set with the choreography you can see in the song's video. Returning for one song and one song only, alone on a guitar, she reaches back to her debut EP for its opening cut 'Unexpected Feeling.' Clearly a favourite, one woman in the front row let out an Exorcist-sized scream that clearly vindicated the choice, though there were some mumblings of "where's Happenstance", but you can't please everyone.


A Gretta Ray show runs the full gamut of emotions and her setlist and abilities are simply remarkable for a young artist out on a tour to promote her first album. All the moving parts come together perfectly this evening and the show displays a destiny and a clear path towards much bigger stages. And very, very, very soon.