Some artists believe you’re only as good as your last show. Gotye’s concert at the Entertainment Centre was his final one of the world tour in a year that has seen him win more hearts, minds and awards then ever. The music sounded perfect, the visuals were dazzling and he could retire tomorrow knowing that he’d offered something really wonderful and artistic.
The first support was Bertie Blackman who has been enjoying her own fair share of success. Single, “Boy” saw her at the keys and along with a bassist and drummer; they delivered a strong, dance number. On “Stellar” the sound was chiming pop while some big, funky beats filled the Entertainment Centre along with that powerful voice of hers.
Blackman seemed at home in the cavernous venue. Whether she was singing like a diva or an angel, playing guitar like an indie rocker or bouncing away at the keys, she held your attention with her fiery attitude. “Shadow Chasers” seemed to really show off her voice and overall, she had kept things warm and fun.
PVT (previously Pivot) were three lads playing to a hometown crowd (they even remembered growing up and watching concerts and basketball at the venue). Like Blackman, they played music infused with lots of sonic bleeps and blops. They also proved a good choice of support, because they had remixed Gotye’s “Eyes Wide Open”; plus their tunes also featured darker and atmospheric elements like Blackman’s own and were often as sonically detailed as the headliner’s work.
The guys previewed “Evolution” from their forthcoming album. It shared things in common with Midnight Juggernauts and the motorik beat of Can and NEU! The lyrics also shone through and were reminiscent of New Order because they held weight against the robotic beats and pummelled drums.
The new material was grand but it was the closing triptych – and “Window” in particular – that proved the real highlight. The single was defiant as Richard Pike was bending and slapping distortion out of his guitar just like Neil Young had done there a few years ago. The music soared and proved the perfect foil to the Tron-like “Nightfall” and “Homosapien”, which was more humanoid thanks to its walls of gritty sound and metallic elements.
The man of the hour, Gotye AKA Wally De Backer then showed us how he keeps on going from strength to strength. He has blossomed into a confident performer who can pick up any instrument (even a harmonica shaped like a yellow chook) and make it sing. He did however, look happiest when he was at the ol’ drum kit, just banging the s**t outta them and leaving the other layers to be performed by a nine-piece band that included a brass section, percussionists and players of a bevy of traditional and exotic instruments (which he told us about in a way that was fun and educational).
“The Only Way” showed that he was in great voice and opened things with some psychedelic visuals. This added element – particularly in the more animated sequences to follow – gave extra weight and meaning to the songs. It was all so visceral and felt like magical pixie dust was added to something that was already so stellar.
There was the warm fuzz of “Easy Way Out” as the band bopped along to the kind of guitars that would do Keith Richards proud. “Smoke & Mirrors” meanwhile, was all about shedding new skin. The Making Mirrors track really crystallises the highs and lows that accompanied the record’s conception, although tonight was all about celebrating what has been the pay-off after the birth.
Things got really silly for “State Of The Art” where De Backer brought out two organs and Adelaide’s greatest salesman,Barry Morgan. The guest was in crushed, red velvet and the pair hammed it up with talk of the “Touch and release” and “One finger” methods. It was good but Morgan seemed to be there more for laughs and placard-holding then actual playing.
The set also featured the iTunes bonus track, “Dig Your Own Hole” and the apocalyptic, “Eyes Wide Open”. This one was a stirring, modern anthem about fighting against the extinction of animals. It was also used to publicise The Thin Green Line Foundation whose representatives were on-hand, collecting for the charity.
There were two quiet songs including the ditty, “Giving Me a Chance” and the ballad, “Bronte”. It felt out of leftfield forGotye to then drop “Somebody That I Used to Know”. The colourful visuals played and the pop song began perfectly, to the point that it was inducing goose-bumps, even after so many listens. Then Bertie Blackman crept on-stage in a grey mouse costume and sang on her knees for “Kimbra’s” part. She had put red cups shaped like ears on Gotye’s head and turned proceedings into a unique and funny version of the hit, before she sashayed off-stage swinging her tail.
The set was completed by “Save Me” and a sublime, “Hearts a Mess” (complete with people spontaneously chiming in for the chorus). Gotye finished it off by clanging a tiny cymbal before the guys left the stage only to return for a photo of themselves in front of the crowd. They launched into an upbeat encore with “I Feel Better” getting people dancing along to the Motown-infused music. The happiness continued in “Learnalilgivinanlovin” where guest, Morgan and the supports joined forces with the band to bring the house down.
Gotye’s show had been exceptional and covered all the bases. There were soft and fragile ballads, rousing pop anthems, songs you could open up your heart to and even older ones that you could dance along with. It had been all there and with visuals to boot.
It’s been a big year for Gotye and having put on such a quality-filled show it’s easy to see why things have played out like this. Because after all… Mr De Backer– you sir, put on quite a show!
Originally published on 16 December 2012 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/sydney/gotye-pvt-bertie-blackman-entertainment-centre-sydney-14-12-12
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