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Saturday 11th May 2024 Munro Martin Parklands, Cairns
Story by Leigh Hanna. Photography by Nighthawk Creative

Munro Martin Parklands in Cairns is home to Australia’s largest green proscenium stage of its kind. This beautiful open-air venue set against picturesque tropical gardens is teeming with picnic blankets, camp chairs, and food hampers ready for an unforgettable evening under the mild North Queensland night sky.

In a dream come true for the indie-folk-pop singer-songwriter Amber Farnan opened the show for her idol (Missy Higgins was the first concert she ever attended at eight years old). In a beautiful solo, acoustic performance by the talented local artist, the Queensland Music Award-winner captured the audience with sweet vocals and thoughtful lyrics reflecting on the trials and tribulations of young love and growing up. Amber’s stand out song of the evening was the breathtaking ‘Hold On’. Hopefully we see Amber release this song in the near future. You can listen to Amber Farnan’s debut EP The Motions here:

Amber Farnan by Nighthawk Creative

Missy Higgins’ The Second Act Tour is like no other she has held before. It’s a special 20th anniversary celebration of her ten-times-platinum debut album The Sound of White and forthcoming her album The Second Act – the “confessional sequel” to be released September 6th, exactly twenty years after the release of The Sound of White. 

The show is split into two acts for the evening:

Act 1 – A stripped back acoustic set to perform all the songs she often doesn’t get the chance to play on other tours. Weeks prior, Missy put out the call to her social media followers to ask what songs they would like to hear and curated her setlist for each show to include the regions’ most asked for songs. B-side tracks, super old tunes, and songs off her yet to be released album are what Act 1 is all about. It’s about intimacy, rawness, and digging down to the gritty parts of the journey that made Missy the artist (and human) she is today. 

Act 2 – The Sound of White album in entirety but not in order (Missy gets to choose how she wants us to experience it). 

Missy makes a understated entrance void of fanfare, greeting the crowd enthusiastically before taking a seat at the keyboard. Her candid and authentic welcome makes you feel like you’re old friends rather than part of an audience. The lawn chairs, food vans, and wine on tap help create a familiar and homely feel; a Sunday evening with mates in the park.

Missy opens on ‘Sugar Cane’ then wraps up her first song of the evening with a giggle and explains that she knows she’s playing an outdoor show in Far North Queensland when there’s a bug crawling across her keyboard that she’s had to try not to squash while playing. Taking a moment to relocate the limelight-stealing insect, she carries on with the set. 

Throughout the show, Missy thoroughly explains her songs’ histories, her inspirations, and her heartbreaks. She pulls at her stitches (one by one) to let us into her mending heart by talking openly about her divorce and the devastating impact it had on her. She tells us it took her almost a year to process emotions, start to formulate words, and begin to create again. To learn how to open her heart up when it’s been smashed to pieces. How hard it has been to rebuild after the story she had written for herself burned to the ground. She shares the complexity of navigating all that with a young family. How to explain to a five year old that real life is not always like the ‘happily ever after’ endings in fairy tale books; that the love between her parents isn’t gone, it just looks different now. Missy’s upcoming album The Second Act is how she’s unpacked her grief. Apparently, it took twelve songs to get it out of her system. Twelve songs to feel like she could start moving forward. She feels like the songs on this new album are the most vulnerable she’s ever written, and she’s found healing, growth, strength, and power in raw honesty.

 Missy is powerful. Missy is no longer that seventeen year old school girl cannonballed to fame by her sister submitting ‘All For Believing’ to a radio competition. Missy showcases the spine-tingling, impressive vocals of a confident, mature artist who has grown into herself. Missy owns the stage. 

Act 2: Wearing a custom ‘Sound of White’-themed tasselled jacket by Melbourne designer Anna Cordell (over one hundred hours of embroidery went into this baby), Missy begins Act 2 with ‘All for Believing’, the song that started it all. Minimal lighting, Missy on keys, and the haunting tone of the cello enchants the audience. The full band joins the stage for the rest of the set as we take a ride back through the years, remembering who we were when we first fell in love with these songs. We sway and sing along in silence (no one wants to miss the beauty of Missy’s voice and her bleeding heart filling the air). We cheer and groove along to ‘Casualty’ with a crowd-goes-wild trumpet solo and peel ourselves off our picnic blankets to dance uninhibitedly to ‘Scar’. 

Missy closes with ‘The Sound of White’, sending waves of goosebumps across the audience with the backstory of losing her cousin and, while sitting in a chapel in the silence (where she felt she could still speak to him), Missy thought she felt something touch her hair and had the comforting sense that he was watching over her. As she plays the heart-wrenching title track, a shooting star streaks across the sky giving those lucky of us enough to catch it, the most spectacular and fitting end to the show.

Growth. Life. Introspect. Missy’s Second Act will not be her last. 

Tickets are still available for her Sydney, Canberra, and Darwin leg of the tour. Get tickets and pre-order The Second Act album from:

 The Second Act Tour – Cairns Setlist 

Act 1:
Greed For Your Love.
Story For the Ages
You Should Run
This Is Where I Stood
The Cactus That Found the Beat
The Inbetween
A Complicated Truth
The Second Act

Act 2:
All For Believing
The River
Ten Days
This Is How It Goes
Any Day Now
They Weren’t There
Don’t Ever
The Special Two
The Sound of White

More fabulous photos from Nighthawk Creative


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