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[Review] Teddy Swims @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 25/08/2023

Review By Terri Nas

A mild August night in the city led me to the Forum Theatre last Friday, to go and experience Mr Teddy Swims for the first time. The Georgia-born singer is currently touring the world and blowing away audiences on his “I’ve Tried Everything But Therapy Tour”, accompanied by his 5-piece band Freak Freely. For the amount of gigs I’ve been to throughout my life, this old music lover is ashamed to admit that she has never been to a gig at the Forum so it was a night of firsts all round for me.

The 94-year-old theatre is a beauty in itself, with its iconic ceiling and clever lighting that has you believing you’re star gazing under a night sky, which instantly sets the tone as soon as you enter its doors. Being a recently initiated Teddy fan myself and given the diversity of his music style, I was interested to see the demographic of his audience that flock to his concerts were predominately aged between 30-50. 

There was a buzz throughout the crowd who were settling into position and  keenly anticipating having their socks blown off. To begin the sock-blowing process, young Aussie talent Mia Wray kicked off proceedings with a hauntingly beautiful acapella version of Work For Me. From the first note the packed theatre was in complete silence, mesmerised by the spell her incredible voice had cast on us. A collective case of hardcore goosebumps ensued, and this was one hell of a baptism into her music for me. Mia was absolutely brilliant and I’m now officially a huge fan and can’t get enough of her voice. Her entire set was incredible and included Never Gonna Be The Same, Evidence & Monster Brain.

The crowd was now officially warmed up and we didn’t have to wait long at all for Teddy to arrive. Thank god he opened the show with 911, because we needed the paramedics and fire brigade on standby for this shit-hot show. For The Rest Of Your Life followed in which Teddy promised to deliver an even better show, than when he was on Australian shores last year. When the iconic piano intro of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ started up, the crowd went crazy and they couldn’t help but sing along passionately to every single word of the 80’s rock classic.

Naughty Teddy then told the story of when he got into trouble with his girlfriend over some ‘compromising’ photos on his phone, which inspired What More Can I Say. At this point, the crowd just wanted to keep upping their Dose of the drug that is Teddy’s voice. Teddy has a voice that reverberates throughout your entire core and will evoke a range of emotions within you in just a few brief notes. Devil In A Dress was a crowd favourite, which was followed by Someone Who Loved You which was written about Teddy’s “stupid ass ex-girlfriend” as he so bluntly put it.

When the opening bars of Lose Control fired up, that’s exactly what the crowd did, and this song being one of my favourites had me feeling all the things and getting completely lost in the moment. Amazing was next on the list and whilst still trying to recover from its predecessor, this heartfelt love ballad planted a lump in my throat and had all the couples in the room holding each other just that little bit tighter. With it’s beautiful lyrics and his mesmerising voice, I was simultaneously melting through the floor whilst trying to hold my tears back throughout the song’s entirety.  

Teddy then went on to remind us that the most important people in the world are mothers, and that we need to always treasure them. His Shania Twain cover of Still The One-which is one of the songs responsible for thrusting him onto the world stage- was next so as he led into it he beautifully dedicated it to all the mamas out there. We were then treated to a new song off his latest album, Some Things I’ll Never Know, which is about relationships ending and not getting the closure you need to move forward. Teddy was visibly emotional and overwhelmed at the crowd’s response and couldn’t have been more appreciative and humbled by the love and support he received from his fans.  

A rendition of Happy Birthday was sung to his best friend and tour photographer who was hiding side of stage, and Teddy gushed about how wonderful his best friend is and added that he is blessed to have the best job in the world. Emotions were still running high, and he was still trying to recover and “get his shit together” as he led into All That Really Matters.

At the conclusion of the song Teddy disappeared and we were left wondering if we would get an encore as the crowd definitely weren’t done with him yet. He reappeared a few minutes later to let us know that he was “about to piss his pants” which was the main reason for his sudden departure. When the band fired up the first couple of bars of the classic Tennessee Whiskey, the crowd went mental and I myself, nearly had a heart attack as it is one of my most favourite songs. Teddy’s voice really is as smooth as Tennessee Whiskey and is so well-suited to this song, and the crowd couldn’t help but sing along to the smooth country love ballad.  

Teddy’s departing gift to us was his hit song Bed On Fire, which left the crowd on a complete high. Despite his husky soul voice with a dash of falsetto for good measure, he manages to adapt himself seamlessly into multiple genres like soul, pop, country & RnB, broadening his talent and his fanbase. His fun-loving but humble personality makes him appealing, and you can tell that he truly appreciates his fans and the love that they show him. It was a bloody brilliant gig all round and if you’ve never heard of Teddy Swims, then I implore you to jump onto a streaming app and check out his stuff because I can guarantee you definitely won’t be disappointed.  

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