Homecoming song: Gordi performs in Canowindra

Locally born musician and multi-instrumentalist Gordi played to a crowd of more than 200 at Canowindra's Moorbel Hall on Sunday evening. Photo: Ben Rodin
Locally born musician and multi-instrumentalist Gordi played to a crowd of more than 200 at Canowindra's Moorbel Hall on Sunday evening. Photo: Ben Rodin

Supporting act, Melbournes Alex Lahey, joked that it was a Bikram solo show during her set.

But with crowd seemingly forgetting about the sweat dripping down their brow and the nil effect of the ceiling fans swishes, it was clear that all involved were taking part in a unique occasion.

Locally born musician Sophie Payten, who performs as Gordi, played to a Moorbel Hall crowd of more than 200 people drawn from the Central West and beyond in what will be a rare 2019 live performance for the Sydney-based musician.

Playing with occasional accompaniment from Lahey, Gordi performed a set that consisted mostly of songs from her 2017 debut album, Reservoir, with Can We Work It Out, the anthemic "Long Way" and the pedal looping of Heaven I Know highlights for the audience.

While the minimal ventilation of Moorbel Hall had an intimacy that went far beyond the pubs and clubs of Australias capital cities, the folksy lighting, rugby club barbecue and imported sound set-up created a rare melding of community atmosphere and a thrilling concert environment.

Both artists had an obvious and natural affinity for the area, with Lahey repeatedly joking about her newfound fandom of the Canowindra Pythons while Gordi playfully admitted to the crowd that the February heat didn't present an ideal performance climate.

Melbourne musician Alex Lahey was a last-minute special guest, playing a solo set while accompanying Gordi on several songs later in the evening. Photo: Ben Rodin

Melbourne musician Alex Lahey was a last-minute special guest, playing a solo set while accompanying Gordi on several songs later in the evening. Photo: Ben Rodin

The Summer date was chosen because it coincided with an opportunity to play with friend and occasional collaborator, American Julien Baker, who had to cancel the entirety of her forthcoming tour schedule due to personal reasons.

Nevertheless, Payten, who also works as a doctor at Sydney's Prince of Wales, said before the show that she was keen to perform as a "thank you" to her home town.

"From a very young age, I was so supported in performing I remember doing singing gigs at the pool," she said, adding people like local musician Nerida Cuddy were formative influences.

"I really looked up to her when I was younger she was a real role model for me and was always playing locally.

While Payten moved to boarding school in Sydney at the age of 12, her ongoing connection to the town is something that she takes seriously, having previously received financial support from arts groups in the area.

There are plans to record on her family farm, with engineers who work at American musician Bon Iver's studio, for a forthcoming album in April and May this year.

"It's really cool. There's this cottage at my parent's place that's currently uninhabited, and we're basically going to make it into a makeshift studio," she said, adding she wants the new album to reflect its recording space.

"I want it to sound roomy and remind people of where it was made being here, in such a rural setting."

This openness to new ideas is something that Payten definitely believes has come in part from growing up in the arts-friendly town.

"Canowindra is a wonderful place [it's] a really pro-active town, and it's always been really creatively geared," she said.

"It's accepting of everybody."

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