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Stephen Sanchez's Unforgettable and Commanding Live Show Leaves Fans Reeling





Words and photos by Kimberly McMaster

There is a line around the street to get into the Tivoli. It's a Friday night in Brisbane and we're filing in slowly to see Stephen Sanchez. When the main act begins, I think I have stepped into a twilight zone -- I feel stuck in a re-enactment of the recent Elvis movie where Tom Hank’s Colonel Parker character discovers Elvis talking about “a carnival act that would get you the most money, the most snow, had great costumes and a unique trick, that gave the audience feelings they weren't sure they should enjoy.  But they do.” In the movie, we observe a room full of (mostly) young women beside themselves screaming over Elvis’ energetic and, for the time, scandalous dance moves. The only difference here at the Tivoli tonight seems to be the modern attire of the crowd (not the band) while Stephen Sanchez plays the role of Elvis not Austin Butler.

A self-professed Elvis fan, I’m not mad about it, but curious as to how this level of stardom has been achieved by Sanchez in a relatively short time. I am definitely a big fan now, but I honestly didn’t know his name 12 months ago. Someone in his PR machine should be commended. There is a clear and deliberate concept here, and I am both happy and surprised that it has taken off. Throwbacks to the sounds of yesteryear don’t always go as planned, however the 50’s and 60’s theme around the album, tour, clothing and hair (the hair!!) all seems to contribute to the rapid ascent to stardom of the enigmatic and humble talent that is Mr Stephen Sanchez. To be fair, the buzz likely started some time ago prior to all this jazz (when 'Until I Found You' went viral on TikTok circa 2021), but nevertheless I am buying what they are selling right now. Sign me up. Let me bask in the troubadour adventures of last year's Angel Face album where the charming and romantic lyrics tell a tragic love story. Those couple of sad critics can swim in their tears while I drink the Kool-Aid and live my best life ingesting the hype. Regardless of how you feel about the album as a whole, if you have ears and see this young man live you cannot deny he has a distinct and powerful voice that can hit high notes or croon seductively at will as well as a fun and humble stage presence, good crowd banter and powerful band unit. Trust me, the hype is infectious and not for the faint hearted.


I stand three quarters of the way up the back and to the left on the main floor in front what appeared to be a gallery of parents behind the railing. Last night I was at the same venue for The Dandy Warhols in a crowd that made me feel young; tonight I felt closer in age to the (young!) parents up the back rather than the bouncy and screaming youths that swamp the floor and dangle over the upstairs balcony railing every now and then professing their undying love at decibels almost as high as the one delivered by Sanchez during 'The Otherside' which thankfully healed my ears from the screaming.


Between bouts of gushing like a teenager, I should mention the support act, Graace. She has a nice voice and her guitarist is talented. Her music was appropriate for the youthful crowd and anyone who has the confidence to try and make a go of it in this industry should be commended. Having said that I personally didn’t resonate with lyrics about using men as toys or the song that she explained was about telling her ex that he downgraded when he moved on and I felt that getting the crowd to turn their phone lights on and wave them was a little gimmicky for a support act but the crowd obliged and they did a good job of hyping everyone up for Sanchez.


Sanchez’ cover of 'Oh, Pretty Woman' was received well, but had the parent gallery at the back, in particular, acting like parents gone wild. Like parents like offspring; the main floor was grooving like they were in a Rydell High dance off. The lyrics of crying to the lord and all of the screaming ooh’s during 'Doesn’t Do Me Any Good' is a pure example of Sanchez manipulating the crowd like putty in his hands while we hang on his every oooh until he disappears slightly from view and allows an impressive guitar solo until Sanchez returns to close the number on yet another insane high note that is pitch perfect.

Surprisingly, Sanchez then chats to the crowd and says that he and the band were very nervous for this show. He also mentions how they're as surprised as everyone else at their success, how they all feel like they should be out in the crowd watching shows with everyone else and how grateful they are that they are having this moment.

It's unclear if Sanchez means to only sing a couple of bars of Roy Orbison's 'In Dreams' as he stops after a short introduction and says he didn’t mean to do that. But by this point, he can pass this off as a mistake - who can tell.

The lighting master for the evening also deserves an honourable mention. From the low-lighting (almost no lighting as the band walk on stage), building from a single spotlight for the opening 'Something About Her' to the music-synchronised spectacle during 'Be More', the lighting design complements the mood for each song accurately, playing a key role in the overall theatrics of the evening.

Speaking of theatrics, the crowd came for their pound of flesh and when Sanchez announced his second last song they start to chant "take it off”, Sanchez obliges and removes his shirt*.

*Did I say shirt, I meant suit jacket, there was never a shirt but it “suited” him.

Sanchez and his band are utterly commanding and were from the moment they arrived to the moment they left after running across the stage at the end with sombreros and the national flag.

My plus one had sadly forgotten to offload their parenting obligations and I ended up attending the evening alone which is out of character for me, but I had such a delightful time basking in the energy of this talented band and absorbing every delicious note from our frontman that a week later I confess I am most certainly still so high (I mean a natural high) and definitely still reeling.

You can see reels from the show at






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