Gotye @ Sydney Entertainment Centre, Sydney (14/12/2012)
ALBERT SANTOS discovers how Gotye has finally transformed from bedroom producer to arena-filling popstar.
Can we take a moment to appreciate the enormity of what has just happened across Australia, over the past fortnight? Because this should be recorded in the fucking record books. If you went up to any sane human in 2009 and said that an independent bedroom producer of eclectic-pop would be packing out arenas nationwide three years on, you’d have been given an awkward side-eye and patronising pat on the back.
But here we are. Somehow, the Melbourne guy who couldn’t even afford to take his touring band with him overseas to promote his previous record is now standing with nine other performers on a stage usually reserved for your Elton Johns, Neil Youngs, and, well, The Wiggles. Yes, it is thanks to one “viral hit” and its oh-so-exploitable video clip imagery. Yes, it may not last another year, or another six months for that matter. But even with all that considered, it is one hell of an achievement.
Bertie Blackman opened the night with her two-piece. Playing tracks from her most recent LP Pop Innocent X to a near-capacity audience, she displayed a confidence and energy on stage, despite the cavernous surrounds. PVT followed, and used the opportunity to road-test new tracks from their forthcoming album. However, their sound didn’t quite fit as well as Bertie’s and despite the grandeur of the music on record, the three-piece ultimately struggled to make that translate in an arena setting.
A poor mix during PVT’s set also didn’t bode well for the main act. As someone who relies on absolute sound clarity to impart his song’s full effect , there was a sense that Gotye may fall victim to the poor acoustics that have claimed many a great act at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. Yet as he took to the stage, launching into ‘The Only Way’ from 2006’s Like Drawing Blood, those fears swiftly faded. The sound was crisp, his vocal ability sublime, the visuals screening behind him matched perfectly and his band tightly wound. The crowd remained in his grasp at every note. During ‘Bronte’ – his sombre ode to a friend – the audience fell into a uniquely humbling silence as his voice inhabited every inch of the venue.
“You got the feeling that despite recent successes, everyone in attendance was behind Gotye from day one.”
Yet even with the help of comedy-musical act Barry Morgan during ‘State of the Art’ (inspiring some of the most unique call-and-response moments of the gig) and Bertie Blackman on ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’, the biggest sing-along came during ‘Heart’s A Mess’, which brought him national attention back in 2006. Strangely, the crowd’s reception when he played his earlier material was mostly louder and more impassioned than when he played tracks from Making Mirrors. While on first glance the crowd may have looked like your usual Entertainment Centre fare – families, middle-aged couples, underage-drinkers – you got the feeling that despite recent successes, everyone in attendance was behind Gotye from day one.
He closed the show with ‘Learnalilgivinanlovin’, with his support acts, Barry Morgan, and members of his road crew coming out to join him during the final drum solo. As he constantly thanked everyone involved and paused before the encore to take a photo with his audience, it appeared this was all as much a surprise to Wally De Backer as it was for us. Will he ever perform at the SEC again? A skeptic would say that he probably won’t. However, after a night in which he owned a 13-000 person strong audience, one can’t help but think that something (even) more lies ahead for Australia’s most unique popstar.