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Words by Kate Lockyer

Photography by Elizabeth Sharpe | @ummagummamumma


Sam Fischer and his supports Chris Lanzon and Ethan Beer filled The Zoo in Brisbane on Thursday night with nothing but dulcet tones, good vibes, and all the feels. Fischer, originally from Sydney, has become a pop sensation after living in LA, and fortunately for us he has returned home to Aus. His natural affinity for the stage, stunning vocals and lyrical flair for capturing city life, love and heartbreak demonstrated clearly why he has had the opportunity to work with the likes of Demi Lovato and Meghan Trainor over in the US. 

Ethan Beer and his band emerge to sing Highs & Lows, Beer on an acoustic, and their bond is clear as they all are having a great time. The ‘oh whoah ohs’ melody line is fun and groovy. Their next song Jericho showcases his surprising confidence for a young guy, and it’s almost a throwback to early Justin Bieber. A blue-lit stage introduces Little Bird, a simple acoustic love song that certainly brings to mind Ed Sheeran’s similar 2011 song of the same name, although Beer’s lyrical purity brings its own endearing quality and cascading keys at the end create a magical moment. Then we get a cover of Stephen Sanchez’ Until I Found You, which suited his wholesome style. The reverb on the lead guitarist’s telecaster sounded heavenly and the drummer nailed his part with a light touch. Beer’s last song was Sticky Tape, which had a cool, almost reggae feel to it that set the scene at The Zoo for a good night. The audience contentedly bobbed along as he sang, “Riding vibrations like the waves / Thinkin’ bout you all throughout my day / You’re stuck on my brain like sticky tape / You make me feel that type of way.” 

Chris Lanzon, in a brown jacket and matching mahogany acoustasonic tele, began his set with a song called Starlight, a moody tune that introduced us to his husky vocals and romanticism. In Dark Side, he picked up the tempo, and we found ourselves nodding along to this boppy yet shadowy track as he sang, “You said you have a dark side / You said you’d cut my heart out and leave me to die”. Despite following a full band, his presence – just him, his guitar and stompbox – was not unassuming but grounded and polished, demonstrating that true musicians can do a lot with a little. 

He introduced his next song June by saying, “This one’s a sad one, but hey, we love sad songs”, and oh yes we do when it’s Lanzon behind the mic. June had his voice glittering with emotion in his high register, and the audience was feeling it too, clapping along in the chorus. You’ll Find It was another sad one, and once again simple guitar paired with his voice felt like a velvet rug draping over us. 

Angel Litany, which Lanzon put out just a few weeks ago, felt exactly as he sang in his song – “Angel sounds / You’re like bliss and torture and church bells”, the light and shade all mixed in. Speaking of new releases, he then played a track which he’ll be releasing imminently, called Lilo. It was sweet, and the crowd loved it. Chris Lanzon finished his set with an immaculately chosen cover of the Goo Goo Dolls’ Iris, and delivered with his pared-back, earnest vocals, it was the perfect sing-along tune for the crowd to join in. 

A robotic voice rang out through the room, introducing our headline act for the evening and heralding “trauma, transformation, and triumph”. This innovative voiceover would pop up throughout Fischer’s set, encouraging people to take care of themselves during songs with heavy topics, and at the end, calling on us all to dance!

Sam Fischer bounded onto the stage with an exuberance that had us all thrilled to be in his presence, launching into I Love You, Please Don’t Hate Me. A slight issue with the mic in the first few lines was all but forgotten as Fischer exuded a joyful excitement and we were flooded with his superb vocal tone. A perfect song to start with that showed off his catchy songwriting and characteristic vulnerability – the man has an ear for a lyrical hook. He grooved across the stage as he and his band then dove straight into Afterglow, a song whose notes really did seem to shimmer as at dusk, when skilfully plucked from the air by this crew. Warm synth and crashing cymbals coming in at just the right time in the chorus created the perfect backdrop for Fischer to sing about a glorious yet fleeting moment – “I have to know / What the feeling’s like / In your afterglow”.

Then, we heard Secondhand Happiness, a lonesome track set in the record section of a thrift store, where he has just glimpsed an ex which has caught him by surprise. Luckily for us, who are already captivated by Fischer’s highs and lows, he finds that he can be happy for this person. I’m agreed – no better place to find second hand happiness than a record aisle. 

In Hopeless Romantic I heard echoes of Ben Platt, that same sweet emotional openness in the lyrics, and especially in a stripped back moment, tremulous vibrato in his vocals like a gossamer thread of spider’s silk. After a stripped back section as we sway, hands above our heads, the chorus hits us like an espresso shot, between Fischer’s renewed gesturing and a kick of guitar and drums by sticks master Brendan Tan back into the final section. 

Reading like the epilogue to the iconic Joni Mitchell song Big Yellow Taxi, the moody Watching My World Fall Apart continued to take us further into Fischer’s world – in this case “the making of a broken heart”. Referencing the ultimate musical muse Mitchell will immediately earn my respect, and in this case he leant into the love story strand of the narrative, singing, “I guess you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone / Just like the last verse of that Joni song” and also, “Sittin’ in silence, it’s cold in this taxi”. 

I Got to Live, the next song, Fischer introduced by saying that, since the pandemic, it feels like life is going really quick, and this track is about feeling lucky to be alive. “Brisbane will you sing with me?” he calls. Teaching the audience some ‘Oohs’ to sing during the chorus has an enthusiastic but fantastically off-key crowd doing their very best. “You’re very loud and I love that,” he said, “If you can’t sing just shout!” There is a sense of camaraderie in this exchange, and Fischer is chuckling as he starts the first verse of what is a reflective but uplifting track. A euphoric vocal run at the end has the room floored, feeling like we have just watched a party sparkler twirled around in the night air.

A classic breakup ballad ensued – I figure every artist has to have a few of these to get their pop music card stamped, and this had all the lovable elements: raw vocals, a slow beat, and words that are perfect for wallowing in your feelings. You Don’t Call Me Anymore felt like he was singing about the excruciating end of a situationship, where technically there is nothing to grieve over, but all the same you miss them. 

One of the things I liked best about Fischer was his unpretentious humour, joking that his song What Other People Say, released as a duet with Demi Lovato, was one he lost an ARIA Award over. When the crowd ‘ohhed’ in sympathy, he laughed and added, “It was a fan voted song, so that one’s on you guys”. Despite the levity, this song touches on dark themes, and he said he wrote it while “fucked up” in LA. 

Landslide is the song Fischer names as his favourite on the album ‘I Love You, Please Don’t Hate Me’, the kind of soft melody that feels like it should be played for a picnic in a meadow somewhere among flower patches. Not only does he have a rich lower range, but his floaty falsetto is also on full display in this number. 

“When I started making music, I started writing about what I know,” Fischer told the audience. He said this led to him being branded as a mental health artist, which he felt to be a strange thing. His song Carry It Well resonated with many who were struggling with mental health, and he said he received an insane response and had a lot of people sharing their story with him. “I hope that if you’re going through anything tonight, just the for the next three minutes while Carry It Well is playing, you can let it go,” he said. He started the song softly, almost whispering, and then the words burst out of him in the chorus. It was truly a heart wrenching song, and a reminder to check up on your friends as Fischer sang, “Just because I carry it well / Doesn’t mean it isn’t heavy, and I don’t need some help.”

Next was an unreleased song called Parents, which is out in a week. Despite his past frankness about his struggles, this song might be Fischer’s most unfiltered and emotional song yet, about his difficult relationships with his parents. Bathed in red light, he sang, “Some days are harder than others / Thank god for my mother” and went on to sing of how he is scared to have a child, in case they look at him with his father’s eyes. The crowd was entranced as he poured his heart out. I’d recommend listening with a box of tissues on hand this May 17. 

The robotic voiceover was back again, breaking the tension with the remark, “Wow that got sad”, and we all laughed at the juxtaposition of this mechanical pre-recording compared to the human soul we had just been introduced to. It remarked again, referring to its comment from the start of Fischer’s set, that it was time for triumph. “Let’s party,” it intoned. 

Iceberg kicked in with markedly more energy than the recording on the album, thumping drums and raucous electric guitar soundtracking a song about finding out how to cope with change and hardship. The interplay between Fischer and guitarist/keys/MD Martin during a dizzying guitar solo towards the end looks like a lot of fun and has us all feeling a communal joy as our balladeer jumped around the stage, looking like he was born there. Alright, released as a duet with Meghan Trainor, brought this same energy, and it was a great song for the crowd to sing along, which they did with gusto. 

Fischer bade us goodbye then, saying with his familiar good humour, “Next time I see you Brisbane, it will be in a fuckin’ arena, let’s manifest that shit!” The final song was of course This City, the viral hit that is not only catchy but has gorgeous evocative lyrics like “It’s all about smoke screens and cigarettes / Looking through low lights at silhouettes / But all I see is lonely people in crowded rooms”. Part way through we get the remixed version, but this evening with live drums as well, picking up the tempo and finishing the night with bouncy keys and Fischer’s effervescent dancing. 


Friday May 10th Oxford Art Factory Sydney TICKETS

Saturday May 11th Howler Melbourne TICKETS



Thanks to Beehive PR

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