Classic Kate's theatrical turn

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Kate Miller-Heidke's current tour combines three of her greatest loves: music, theatre and her husband. Rather than the traditional pub and club venues chosen by Aussie musicians, the singer-songwriter has selected a range of more intimate venues in which to perform her most recent album, Nightflight.

She says her first regional tour in close to five years is "all about the venue".

"I gave precedence over the geographical location in many cases,'' she says. ''There were a lot of towns I wanted to get to but we couldn't because they didn't have the right venue there.

"This album was basically written to be performed in theatres - that's kind of how it was conceived."

While Miller-Heidke's love for theatres could stem from her classical training, she says there's more to it than that.

"It means that we can really play with dynamics and play with silence a lot more,'' she says. ''Just the layout of a theatre is very conducive to listening, I think.


"We don't have to play over pissed people, which is always good as well. Taking out the whole boozy component means that under-18s can come as well."

The tour coincides with Miller-Heidke's run of Heavenly Sounds gigs, which, following in the footsteps of soulful artists such as Seeker Lover Keeper and Lisa Mitchell, are performed in churches and cathedrals throughout June.

She says the special venues provide opportunities as well as challenges.

"Acoustically, I think they can veer between being brilliant and being a bit problematic, so I'll see how that goes," she says.

"I do like the idea of infusing the gig with an element of the sacred. For me, music is where I can indulge in my spiritual side."

One condition of the tour was that swearing be eliminated from the show. While that won't be a huge problem for Miller-Heidke - just a minor shuffling of the set list and a bit of self-control on stage - it meant finding a new support act.

Her husband Keir Nuttall's alter ego Franky Walnut, who performs as the support act for the regional tour, was considered a little too crude for the conservative venues.

Miller-Heidke likens her husband's act to a slightly more family-friendly version of Kevin Bloody Wilson.

"This is the first time he's ever gone on tour,'' she says. ''In fact, he's only ever done three or four gigs. But I was at one of those gigs and it's pretty unforgettable - hilarious.

"He always plays guitar with me anyway, but this time I saved money on the support act.

"His worry is that if he totally bombs he has to come back out on stage and play guitar with me, which might be shameful. But I suspect that's not going to happen."

When she's not on tour here or abroad, Miller-Heidke is indulging in her first love - opera.

Most recently, she performed in the world premiere of the English National Opera's Sunken Garden, a sci-fi opera written by Michel van der Aa and David Mitchell, the bestselling author of Cloud Atlas.

She's also in the midst of writing an opera for Opera Australia.

"It's based on a book by Shaun Tan, the illustrator, called The Rabbits,'' she says. ''It's going to be for children as well as adults.

"I've been writing pop songs as well, and I'm going back in the studio later this year. But I just found that the classical side of things, it really does keep me inspired. It stops me from getting bored with my musical language."


WHEN: Tuesday, June 25 and Wednesday, June 26

WHERE: The Street Theatre

TICKETS: $52 from 6247 1223 or thestreet.org.au