At just 22, Taylor Henderson has navigated the ups and downs of the music industry more so than many of his peers. Stepping on to the stage of Australia’s Got Talent in 2010, he entered as a duo with his father. Seeing the potential in both singers, the judges split them into solo acts and Taylor placed third while his dad, Cam Henderson, came second. His father went on to release an album, but we heard very little from Taylor, that was until he braved the curve ball of reality television again and entered X Factor in 2013. Now older and more accomplished as a musician, Australia fell in love with Taylor all over again and while he placed second to winner Dami Im, his debut single “Borrow My Heart” peaked at number one and went double platinum.
Two albums later, the return to his hometown of Geelong was destined to be an emotional experience for Henderson. With strong ties both to his family and friends, Taylor’s intimate acoustic gig at the Geelong Courthouse was a full circle experience for everyone in the room as the singer treated friends, fans and family to some of his most popular hits.
Opening the show with his single, “Close To Nothing,” his band was stripped back to the piano, allowing Taylor’s near flawless vocals to cut through the air and capture the room. The depth and tone of the singer’s voice is remarkable for his age, and as he sung the simple Pop melody with exceptional vocal control, hitting high notes and making runs many singers only dream of, he nullified the space in the room and brought the audience with him to a special place.
Working with his band, each song was carefully thought out to garner just the right balance of instrumentation. Initially there seemed to be an imbalance in the instrumental volume compared to the vocals; however, this remedied itself mostly through the set and can be explained by the size and shape of the small room which was built for theatre shows and not gigs. The backing vocals were especially on point, collaborating with Henderson’s lead to create some gorgeous melodies but exercising restraint to make way for some intimate moments.
Without a doubt, the highlight of the gig was when Taylor was left alone on the stage with his guitar. A reminder of where he has come from and just how good he is on lead guitar; his performance of “Piece by Piece” and new song “Once More” were reminiscent of Ed Sheeran, particularly in the bridges. Stepping up to join his son, Cam Henderson then joined Taylor for a semi-impromptu performance of “Matter of Time” and “Old Heart,” which was absolutely spine tingling. By audience request, they also performed “Horses” and lead the audience in a sing along of the Darryl Braithwaite classic.
When left to his own devices, Taylor really came into his own, and he would frequently step away from the mic, the volume of his voice filling the room and carrying home the significance of the evening. Other highlights included his performance of “Host of Angels,” which he began writing for his younger sister at just fifteen years old. Once the band returned to the stage, his mashup of “Brighter Days” with some favourites including Mary Lambert’s “She Keeps Me Warm” and the Jackson 5’s “Back To Your Heart” was executed with great skill and made for a fun night.
While the venue was not ideal and there was a significant lack of seating, Taylor Henderson’s gig at the Geelong Courthouse was special because it carried a passion and authenticity difficult to achieve at most gigs. Talking openly with the audience and carrying a witty banter with his fans, family and band throughout, the singer’s ability to remain so unguarded, yet retain his professionalism and quality of performance was outstanding.
Far more than a flash in the pan or just another talent show contestant, Taylor Henderson’s gig at the Geelong Courthouse showed that he is the real deal. He is rich in vocal talent, song writing skills, stage presence and his ability to relate to fans will only make this already accomplished performer better.
Music set list: “Close To Nothing,” “When You Were Mine,” “Piece by Piece,” ”Once More,” “Matter of Time,” “Old Heart,” “Horses,” “Host of Angels,” “Already Gone,” “Brighter Days.” “She Keeps Me Warm” “Back to Your Heart,” “Sail Away,” “Taking Back,” and “Borrow My Heart.”