With a crowd dress code treading the line between Carnivale and the Gay Mardi Gras, I rocked up in my jeans and T-shirt to watch Lady Gaga’s 2nd Melbourne show on her Born This Way Ball tour.
Full Gallery: Lady Gaga
Her songs are everywhere, her face is everywhere, her image is painstakingly manipulated – albeit by herself – and as an irregular punter at pop gigs, it’s hard to know what to expect. Being bored though does not seem to be a possibility as the curtain drops to reveal something akin to Castle Grayskull.
The cross colours were gone. The high beanies were gone. Hell, even one of their members, Brian Harvey, was gone. But for Tony Mortimer, John Hendy and Terry Coldwell, it was 1993 all over again in the plush surrounds of Toorak. The Trak Lounge – surrounded by its ridiculously priced boutiques and hair salons – is a fair way from the Walthamstow dog track, but it played its role as host well for the latest in a huge chain of 90s revival acts.
Full Gallery: East 17
Went to the show? See if you can spot yourself in the gallery: S Club/Big Brovaz
When – and where – will it end?
With the Australian dollar still enjoying giddy heights against the US dollar and the Pound, 90s and 2000s acts far and wide have been clambering aboard long haul flights to grab some quick cash from the Antipodes. Sadly, some of these acts possess the integrity and dignity of the current economy in Greece.
The Vengaboys paved the way earlier this year for the invasion of hideous 90′s Europop superannuation tours to our shores. This has since seen the likes of a watered-down S Club 7 and the inexplicable Eiffel 65 announce tours of their own.
When it comes to 90s Europop though, there are few who were bigger than Denmark’s Aqua. What no one saw coming however (well, except perhaps promoters who are no doubt giggling away as I type) was that the Danish purveyors of all things happy and poppy would sell out three shows at the impressively sized Palace Theatre in Melbourne.
Yup. Three nights.
Choosing to have a crack at convincing the crowd that they can still deliver pop tunes like they did when Barbie Girl was invading our eardrums, Aqua open with a new tune – Playmate To Jesus. Vocalists Lene Nystrøm and René Dif are energetic, the former prowling the stage like a cat in spiked Doc Martens, and the latter getting down into the crowd during the early parts of the set.
Whilst the newer tunes get a pretty decent reception, it’s the offerings from 1996′s über-smash fun time happy song collection Aquarium that predictably delights the crowd.
The first of these is Dr Jones, the successful-in-its-own-right follow up to Barbie Girl. The crowd – comprised predominantly of folk in their mid 20′s – were in incredible voice and were clearly there for a damn good time. Coloured hair, some bizarre outfits and even a lone fan up front wearing Danish warpaint all crammed into the floor area.
For those who hadn’t caught LA indie-pop trio Foster The People on the Big Day Out’s green stage the previous day – or perhaps just wanted to catch them again – Melbourne’s Palace dished up that opportunity for holders of one of the hottest tickets in town.
The three piece, led by songwriter and apparent naming-rights sponsor Mark Foster, delivered a set that was as polished as the floor of the old Metro Nightclub wasn’t.
With only their 2011 album Torches under their belt, this was never going to be a long set, but after a promising opening from Brisbane act Last Dinosaurs, Foster The People burst onto the stage with Houdini, and whilst generally speaking there weren’t too many surprises – Helena Beat and Call It What You Want were obvious crowd favourites – the now obligatory encore did throw something unexpected up.
Last year, fellow LA residents Weezer covered Foster The People’s Pumped Up Kicks, and did a pretty damn fine job of it. So, to return the favour, Foster introduced his band’s cover of Weezer’s 1994 track Say It Ain’t So. It scrubbed up well and proved one of the night’s highlights.
Unsurprisingly, Pumped Up Kicks closed the night, and it saw Foster climb into the crowd, hoisted up by the fans on the floor as bandmates Mark Pontius (Drums) and the quite brilliantly named Cubbie Fink (Bass) watched on.
A solid set that delivered what you’d expect with a minimum of fuss, but, perhaps surprisingly, not a lot more than that. Still, as a young band about to embark on the recording of their ‘difficult second album’, they’ll return to these shores in a couple more years armed with more songs, more shows under their belts and will again play to an army of iPhones held high above heads recording the entire concert.
Perhaps by then they’ll be iPhone 5′s?
Brooke Addamo, more often seen around town on bill posters as Owl Eyes had the middle set at the Hi-Fi to kick off the weekend in Melbourne.
Having opened for a number of international acts recently, as well as providing the vocals for Illy‘s radio hit It Can Wait, tonight was a more low-key affair in an otherwise busy year for the 20 year old home town girl.
Her recent mini-album Raiders featured heavily, and she also played a number of tracks from her debut Faces, opening with the title track.
The voice is soaring – understated but very capable of delivering the lyrics and emotion her songs demand. Whilst Addamo may have been introduced to the public via Australian Idol (2008), her songwriting ability and stagecraft laugh in the face of any easy to write stereotype. A cheeky cover of Foster The People‘s Pumped Up Kicks was well received – it’s a memorable interpretation but one that’s almost a touch too Lily Allen for the sinister subject matter. It certainly connected with the audience, so proved a good choice in that regard.
Another winner was the night’s closer, the title track Raiders from the EP of the same name.
It’s an atypical stage presence, at times quite shy but never coy. There’s definitely something about Owl Eyes that reaches an audience – alongside headliners Oh Mercy she proved a brilliant choice, delivering her collection of ethereal pop (yet far from poppy) tunes to the growing Hi-Fi crowd in Melbourne quite beautifully.