Songwriter Sessions | The Opal Bar and Lounge | Live Review

There’s no denying that the Perth music scene has been struggling for quite some time. With the loss of renowned festivals and well-loved venues shutting their doors, the last two years have seemed a little gloomy for the live music atmosphere over here. But thankfully there’s been a few changes over the last 6 months and now, for the first time in a while, there’s some light at the end of the tunnel.

With the opening of new venues dedicated to providing the ultimate live music experience, including Jack Rabbit Slims and Badlands Bar (the old Devilles Pad), the Perth music scene is finally on the up. And to really add a sense of uniqueness to the mix, local artist Amanda Canzurlo (Bloom) has started something pretty damn spectacular – and it’s just what Perth needs to keep thriving.

The songwriter sessions – a new night that showcases local talent with a twist – had its opening evening last Wednesday night. It’s not what you expect either, and maybe that’s why it works so well. But it’s positively something that could take the local scene by storm quickly.

Songwriter Sessions

“After coming back from Melbourne, I was inspired to plan an intimate night of original music here in Perth”. explains Canzurlo. “I keep hearing about how the music scene in Perth is struggling and so I wanted to do my bit. I’m passionate about helping people along their journey, I know first hand how tough it can be being an independent musician… and so I wanted to create a space for songwriters to share their songs”. 

The opening night of Perth’s exclusive songwriter session was held at the Opal Bar and Lounge in Victoria Park. Consisting of three local musicians – Chris Murphy, Ella E and Craig Ballantyne, it was a step forward from your average live music event. Unlike other local gigs that promote an artist per set, usually around 30-45 min each person or act, this songwriters session alternates between the musicians mixing things up in a completely new way.

With all three artists taking the stage at the same time, Chris Murphy kicked things off with his original track Anytime. Setting the tone perfectly for the evening, Murphy belted out his first song to the already-packed venue whilst Ella E took over next with her track These Days Go So Slow. Craig Ballantyne’s Free Me followed and after the first three songs – each by different musicians, it was clear the audience were going to be in for one tasty live music treat.

Songwriter Sessions

The crowd were already buzzing, with the venue flaunting a really cool vibe for a Wednesday night. Murphy kept the mood light with his sense of humour and small introductions to songs, delivering strong vocals and well-crafted originals with Ghost Town being a definite highlight. Ella’s voice was a sweet comparison to the two guys and her next songs Coffee and Same Same were lapped up by the audience. Ballantyne brought a different groove to the mix with a melodic edge to his work and had the crowd hooked with Do Ya Wanna Do It and Sorry.

The second half of the set was more integrated, with the musicians starting to strum their guitars into each other’s songs at times. Whilst it definitely created an exclusive setting watching the artists’ take turns with their own original tracks, it was nice to see it blend a little more towards the end too.

Murphy’s Scarecrow – a 12 bar blues song written for his new album was another favourite, lifting the funk for the night to an entirely new level. Ella’s Alice, off her 2015 debut record Letters I Never Sent was beautifully crafted and showed off her fingerpicking guitar skills. Ballantyne finished off his part of the set with Don’t Run Away and Devil with the Silver Tongue, both of which were great hits and well-received by the crowd.

The first installment of Perth’s unique songwriter sessions went off with a bang, creating a solid platform for local artists to perform their original work in the most intimate acoustic setting. The next evening will be held on Tuesday 26th April and will feature artists Nat Pearson, Jussy Roberts and Chris Gibbs. Make sure you stay tuned for the next location of this not-to-be-missed event!

Songwriter Sessions Perth



Follow Jayde Walker (Ferguson):

Music Journalist + Senior Content Writer

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