EVER since gigs resumed under our new normal of COVID-safe rules you've sensed some musicians have struggled to connect.
How does an EDM producer used to whipping the audience into a trance encapsulate the same sense of euphoria? How does a punk-rock band renown for igniting their crowd into a moshing frenzy create the same energy in the room?
Folktronica artist Sophie Payten, aka Gordi, doesn't have that issue. With a sound made for quiet reflection and concentrated listening, you could almost describe her music as custom-built for these crazy times.
The decision to perform at Newcastle City Hall was also an inspired choice. The slightly-formal setting enhanced the feeling you were witnessing an unique talent.
The night began with a set from alt-pop singer-songwriter Elizabeth Fader. The Sydneysider has a rich and emotive voice and certainly has potential once she builds a deeper set of material.
Gordi's voice was simply stunning from the moment she took the microphone on the heartbreaking Aeroplane Bathroom, inspired by a mile-high panic attack.
Her voice almost snapped as she walked the tightrope high notes on, "Me, the stranger, be the danger of inference now/ I'm unwilling to allow you thinking less of me."
Throughout the performance Gordi's vocal never faltered. It has an enchanting and ethereal quality and it seemingly hypnotised the audience.
There wasn't a murmur of bored chatter. Gordi commanded their full attention.
After recently returning from the Australian coal face of the coronavirus pandemic, Melbourne, where she spent two months working as a junior doctor, Gordi appeared genuinely relieved to be sharing songs from her second album Our Two Skins among music lovers.
"I feel like COVID is working for me because I play a lot of sad songs," Gordi said. "You can sit down and don't have lower back pain or someone's hair in your face."
Throughout the set Gordi alternated between her keyboards and acoustic and electric guitars, with support from her drummer, guitarist and synth player.
She also showed off some interesting instruments, including an accordion built into her keyboards, adopted some peculiar capo tunings and made use of loops on Heaven I Know, from her first album Reservoir.
The delicate piano instrumentation on Radiator and Extraordinary showed off her knack for emotional lyrics and melancholic melodies.
Throughout, Gordi kept her eyes firmly shut as she sung. She was feeling each word.
Despite her claims of writing sad songs, there were also several more upbeat moments on We Can Work It Out and Sandwiches, the latter perhaps being the only song that could have encouraged dancing at a regular gig.
However, those songs were slightly overshadowed by the zealous tub thumping of her drummer.
Gordi's cover of Courtney Barnett's Avant Gardener was also unrecognisable from the original, aside from the lyrics, as she re-imagined it as a folk ballad.
The cover of Miley Cyrus' Wrecking Ball, closed the evening, and was obviously more understated than the bombastic pop of the original, but no less powerful.
In the past few months I've left venues wondering how much better the performance would have been in front of a regular packed house. Not so with Gordi.
In front of an intimate and respectful audience is exactly how this highly-talented artist should be presented.