FRINGE REVIEW: GIRL CRUSH AT THE K-TUNES LOUNGE

Two things are made abundantly clear in Morgan Welch’s new show, Girl Crush.  The first is that she has a great love for the collected musical repertoire of our most popular 21st century pop divas.  And the second thing? Morgan Welch can really sing!

Whilst she bends a few notes that do not need bending here and there, and occasionally over-reaches in the higher register, these are minor quibbles as it is clear she is attempting to make these songs her own rather than falling back on a reliance on soulless mimicry.  And Welch obviously does not have Auto-Tune as a failsafe fallback like many of her idols no doubt would have had at the ready whilst recording the original versions of these songs!

Backed by a band of young jazzers who aid and abet her sassy interpretations of the radio staples and album tracks she has chosen from the music of icons such as Iggy Azalea, Sia, Adele, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Amy Winehouse and more, Welch has been able to experiment stylistically and challenge herself repeatedly to find interesting interpretations of these songs.

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The appreciative crowd were particularly animate in their applause after experiencing Welch’s vocal pyrotechnics on display in songs such as Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood, Miley Cyrus’ We Can’t Stop, and Beyonce’s Halo.

Welch and her band also deliver Lady Gaga’s Angel Down with great poignancy, and for me, this song was, amongst a dozen good performances across the evening, the set’s highlight.

In fact, the only misfire in the entire show was her cover of Amy Winehouse’s There Is No Greater Love which, whilst chosen for all the right reasons, just didn’t evoke the depth of emotion needed to disguise the song’s ordinariness.

Credit must be given to the band who rarely played a note out of place all night. Keyboardist and backing vocalist, band leader Chris Gould was excellent throughout. Bassist Dylan Kuershner has a great feel for the subtleties of rhythm and plays with a sensitivity not often heard in someone so young. Saxophonist Jack Degenhart complimented the prevailing mood and feel of the show perfectly with his fills, and drummer Jimmy Meyer provided unobtrusive, solid support that underpinned each song.

Welch is still developing her art, and whilst this show is a terrific showcase of her current headspace and level of performance skill, there is little doubt that her raw talent, if nurtured, will grow exponentially and that she will become an in-demand performer in future years.

Girl Crush is worth investigating even if only to say in future that you were there to see one of the country’s premier interpreters of song in her formative years.

Rating: 4 stars

Girl Crush, presented by Morgan Welch, is being performed at the K-Tunes Lounge, 116 Grote Street, until March 11.