It’s almost confronting to see Morgan Bain perform. The unbridled spirit and passion in every note of the 21-year-old’s music is so intensely soul-baring, it makes you wonder if there’s some past-life stuff at play.
On the home stretch of his Hush EP Tour, Perth-born Morgan Bain exceeded already very high expectations at Mojos Bar. A prior listen to his music suggests a heart-bruised and fiercely passionate soul, but in person, it’s hard to believe this chilled-out 21-year-old is the same one who wrote the record. That is, until he starts singing.
The night began with the first of three opening acts, a yet-to-be-named band led by Josh Garner with the most eclectic combination of genres and instruments. They opened with a heavy rock song, ‘Paradox Blues’, before transitioning to a slower and more seductive tune, ‘Natural Tendencies’. The usual guitar, bass, and drum kit were side-by-side with saxophone, flute, and djembe – a unique combination that worked surprisingly well.
Death by Denim were the next group to perform. To say they commanded the audience’s attention would be a great understatement. A versatile arrangement of their songs with the most insane bass riffs had the crowd jumping. My partner turned to me and said it was “straight off a Guitar Hero track list” and I was left almost worried that they might overshadow the main artist of the night.
The final special guest, Ah Trees, took to the stage with a 90’s arthouse feel. With their new-wave bass-powered groove and funk, it almost seemed like Morgan Bain was educating the audience about Perth’s hidden music gems.
At 11:15pm, the crowd seemed to double from nowhere with whistles and cheers to huddle at the edge of the stage where Morgan Bain had finally appeared. With no spoken introduction, he began with an atmospheric instrumental that transitioned to the very recognisable opening of his 2015 single ‘Why Don’t You Stay’. As Morgan’s soft Blues undertones echoed through the bar, you could see a few audience members looking as if they wished they were the microphone. His voice’s true capabilities were revealed at the chorus as he threw his head back with unbridled passion in each lyric.
It was only after his second song, ‘Summed It Up’, the opening track on his EP Hush, did Morgan speak. He thanked his “mini-festival” of supporting acts and apologised for the hour. It was brief, but hearing him talk was so jarring to me. The soulful voice of seemingly many generations was suddenly a laid-back 21-year-old – and a ridiculously talented one at that.
His program for the rest of the night featured guitar solos, blues, RnB, and soul rhythms, keyboard sequences that are so uniquely unconventional, and sultry undertones in every word. The audience never had trouble feeling the beat and I found myself often getting lost in his voice alone.
He spoke of his songs so casually, as if they were a tale told over a few drinks, not the masterpiece that had just left the audience in awe. “You guys like love songs? This one isn’t the type you’d expect… This is about making love,” he chuckled. “I wrote it on a plane while travelling to Karratha… I’m scared about flying – the plane had three seats on one side and two on the other and the ratio was off! I wrote something to keep my mind off it.”
After you’ve just experienced the intensity of his music, Morgan Bain’s laid back chatting catches you off guard. “This one is about people’s opinions and how they should keep them in their colon,” says Morgan as he introduced another song.
After a slower and more acoustic solo, Morgan invited more guests to the stage, including Drapht and Teischa for his cover of ‘Coming From Where I’m From’ and much loved songs ‘Runs Dry’, and ‘Under Arrest.’ Much to the crowd’s enjoyment, Morgan even performed his well-known Like A Version cover of The Avalanches’ ‘Frankie Sinatra’ with Drapht.
There’s only so much in music you can learn from books and practice. Morgan’s songs are technically faultless with calculated chord progressions and perfect genre studies, but the passion that he puts into every note and lyric is not something that can be learned. There is not a single note in any of his songs that he didn’t completely dedicate himself to. His intimate, but fiercely passionate and captivating voice still gets in your guts after repeated listenings.
Music is about expression of emotion and I think Morgan Bain has hit that nail right on the head.