Future Classic has been developing George Maple for a while. The singer has only given a handful of performances and dropped out a smattering of excellent tunes in the meantime doing only a few press interviews. Now with a sold-out national tour and EP in hand, it makes sense why they have been hiding her away. That element of exclusivity is appealing and as fans going to watch her on her first headline tour, it felt as if we were meeting Maple for the first time.
Walking onto stage Maple looks every bit as mysterious as you would have imagined. She's surrounded by illuminated smoke and dressed in a slinky black outfit, weighed down by gold cuffs. Immediately the guys fell in love with her and the girls wanted to be her. Before she even opened her voice, her presence was immediately felt. Her look was polished and her stance was confident. It didn't feel like we were witnessing an artist's first headline show in Sydney, it felt like she'd just released the best album of the year and was returning to Sydney for a victory-lap tour.
As soon as she opened her mouth, her allure only grew stronger. Starting with one of her early favourites, Fixed, she elongated her arms out over the audience and moved her body like silk. Her vocal alone is enough for her live show to be excellent but she's really focussed on her movement too, marrying both features together to create an altogether fascinating image. Gripp popped up early in the set and collected everyone's mouthes off the floor and loosened things up. For all her smooth, measured moves, Maple looked as if she was having fun.
Maple shares a number of qualities with British songstress Jessie Ware. Not only are their vocals breathy and refined but the pair share the juxtaposition between their approach to music and their onstage demeanour. Both deliver incredibly intense, focussed performances but split every song with jovial banter. It's the type that makes you not only like their music but like them as a person. And that's what makes punters continue to flood back to shows.
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Throughout the set, Maple's strongest moments come when the crowd is one hundred percent on board. A version of Gemini, her track with "a very special friend" What So Not starts a mosh, garnering a reaction that suggests the song will continue to get bigger this year. She amps the crowd up by challenging them to be better than Coachella - a stage in which she stood with What So Not only a week before. It's a big ask for a cramped-in Oxford Art Factory but they do their best and the energy began to swell. Maple capitalised on the extra excitement, dropping her latest single Where You End And I Begin. The throwback RnB tune has the songstress pulling out her sexiest moves and has the rest of the audience doing their best to emulate.
What really confirmed the appeal of Maple's voice during the night was the reaction to her new songs. As an artist with only one EP it's often hard to captivate a crowd for close to an hour but Maple seemed to have no problem. The texture and sheer strength of her voice grips you from the get-go really making you listen to the new songs with intent. Slow Dance stood out as a particular highlight with its sultry, '80s RnB vibes.
With the crowd firmly eating out of her hands, Maple ended the night with her most successful single to date - Talk Talk. It felt as if everyone in the audience had finally gotten to know the singer by this point and the track garnered the biggest singalong of the night.
After a few drinks we tweeted, "Calling it.
@Georgemaplemusi the best Aussie act we've seen since starting this lil' thing." Now, in the harsh light of day we still agree. Maple's show was electrifying from start to finish. It's a hard-slog as a new female artist building a fanbase in Australia but Maple seems to be having more success than most of her peers at the moment. Our exports this year at Coachalla were entirely male (bar the wonderful Alison Wonderland and Julia Stone) but it feels like that heavy majority is set to change. Based on her display in Sydney, it's very clear that Maple has everything she needs to become one of Australia's strongest forces overseas and locally.
Photos: George Maple at Oxford Art Factory, Sydney | Photos By Bianca Bosso