If Baz Luhrmann and Prince had a love child, it would be Luke Steele. The artist formerly known as The Sleepy Jackson frontman is now known for being one half of the electro duo, Empire Of The Sun (along with PNAU’s Nick Littlemore). Despite Littlemore’s absence from live touring, Steele has come into his own, boasting the glitter and pomp of the former plus the groove and style of the latter, especially during the group’s Ice on the Dune album launch for Vivid.
The stage, props and costuming were the kind fashionistas and Mardi Gras revellers dream of. The stage was adorned with a large replica of Steele’s headdress, the production values were as high as a Hollywood movie, and the lights shone like Las Vegas.
Two musicians – a drummer and a guitarist – joined Steele on stage, alongside four back-up dancers. Steele entered the stage levitating on a platform and kicked off a set of flamboyant, glittery splendour.
The new album, Ice On The Dune, was previewed in part and it follows a similar aesthetic to their debut, but we don’t think they could have predicted how quickly the Opera House Concert Hall would be transformed into a nightclub.
‘Standing On The Shore’ was the first of their older hits to be played. And it had paint-by-numbers, fist-pumping festival anthem written all over it. ‘We Are The People’ turned things down a notch and began with an acoustic guitar part. It didn’t quite hit the mark, and the dancers had their guitars styled to look like Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page circa ‘Stairway To Heaven’ – cringe.
As Steele and co. continued us along their epic space journey, the mood was kept high as the colours and sound built like The Wizard Of Oz whirring off on a sonic kaleidoscope. And the new album looks poised to achieve the kind of success to that Walking On A Dream found.
The biggest peak of the evening came during the encore. New single ‘Alive’ drove the masses to another level entirely and everyone broke into song and dance almost simultaneously.
Steele commands you to pay attention like Prince and does so with props that could’ve fallen off the back of The Flaming Lips’ truck. Everything about the night seemed to be about making things bigger and better than ever. There was never a dull moment, lots of gimmicks and sonic trickery but above all, it’s got us excited for their new album’s release. Which was, after all, the point.
Originally published on 3 June 2013 at the following website: http://www.pagesdigital.com/review-empire-of-the-sun-at-the-sydney-opera-house/#empire-of-the-sun-at-the-sydney-opera-house/
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