Metro Theatre, August 12
Fascinating creature, this Montaigne. The artist born Jessica Cerro just shy of 22 years ago is positively flying through the last date of her biggest tour yet and, while the sold-out hometown crowd is going predictably nuts, it's not always straightforward as to why.
Last year's debut album Glorious Heights won her the ARIA award for best breakthrough artist and while it certainly showed off her talents, it was more of a strong introduction than an instant classic.
That's confirmed on this night with Montaigne's idiosyncratic take on pop music missing the target, as far as an impartial observer is concerned, almost as often as it hits it.
Her band is strong – its three members variously supply swathes of synth, supple bass lines and a pleasing variety of beats – and her voice is wonderfully agile.
Truly killer melodies in the songs themselves, however, sometimes prove elusive.That the two brand-new tunes Montaigne is confident enough to share still feel like sketches – Please You on acoustic guitar, Attention on piano, both performed solo – underlines the point.(Her tendency to ramble between songs and leave you laughing awkwardly rather than appreciatively is hardly a deal breaker but still something she might think about reining in.)
All that aside, she is a fantastic performer. She recalls David Byrne in both her quirky dancing and quirkier pop in the Talking Heads-flavoured Greater Than Me, and she has the Freddie Mercury strut down-pat, notably during Come Back to Me. Lyrically the songs brim with emotion and wit, while colour abounds in their execution, from the spring in the step of Because I Love You to the performance-art-pop of In the Dark. And when she hits the upper, soprano reaches of her range, you can't help but be impressed with that voice.
Now this tour has ended, Montaigne says we won't see her onstage for a while, what with album No 2 her next priority. With any luck by then she'll have found a way to make the next step as a songwriter while still dancing to the beat of her own drum.SingerMontaignedancesbeatdrum