Playing to a crowd that even he couldn’t have imagined a year ago, the world-conquering Gotye (aka Wally De Backer) returned to his hometown with a show that included organ duels, mass sing-alongs, and at times a restless crowd; but above all else, an entertaining and joyfully-crafted set that ensured everyone left thoroughly satisfied.
Bertie Blackman provided quality support that was appropriately appreciated by the already sizable sprawl of people on the far-stretching hill, offering a refined collection of tracks from her latest record, Pope Innocent X.
After a short break, Gotye’s ten-piece band entered the stage and began the instrumental title track from Making Mirrors, before De Backer casually strolled on, launching into ‘The Only Way’, with the upbeat and percussion-heavy track clearly outlining what the night would hold.
With the band also featuring two drummers, percussive instruments surrounded the Belgium-born Melbournian wherever he turned.
Playing material nearly exclusively from his breakthrough album of last year and 2006’s Like Drawing Blood, the charismatic frontman seems to have masterfully adapted to these huge venues, gleefully bounding around the front of the stage, or retreating behind to the drums.
Fan-favourite ‘Eyes Wide Open’ was dedicated to the volunteers around the venue, while
‘Thanks For Your Time’ sees the adoring masses transformed into an imposing choir.
And then the night turned a little strange.
After fondly introducing two organs to the stage, Gotye also welcomed none other than Barry Morgan (the hilarious organist comedian from Spicks And Specks).
“I feel a demonstration of the organ coming on, Mr. Gotye,” announced Morgan before preceding to go through a sales pitch of his dear instrument, gradually teasing notes from ‘State Of The Art’, along with some glorious facial expressions.
It’s ridiculous, it’s silly, and it’s brilliant. A completely unexpected (unless you read the reviews from the Adelaide show) moment that adds some humour and good-hearted fun to the night.
Wally De Backer is humble and genuinely appreciative, making sure to lovingly introduce every band member and barely hinting at his new-found level of fame, coming closest when he said “It’s nice to be home, we’ve been away quite a lot this year.”
During ‘Giving Me A Chance’ and ‘Bronte’, a large portion of the crowd begin to rudely chatter amongst themselves, marring the intended emotional moments.
Something that even Gotye himself had to acknowledge, sheepishly saying “when we’re on stage we can actually hear you talking out there” and that it was quieter at that moment “than it was during the songs.”
It’s a refreshing moment of honesty from the Grammy-nominated artist, and perhaps a testament to his down-to-earth nature that even when he’s telling off the crowd, he still manages to sound like the nicest guy in the business.
‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ inevitably followed, and it’s everything that the song should be live: passionate, epic, and featuring a huge sing-along.
The only thing lacking is De Backer’s partner in crime, Kimbra, replaced by Bertie Blackman, who holds her own on the now-iconic duet. Throw in some playful interactions from the pair, and the song more than lives up to its lofty expectations.
Finishing the set with what now seems like an ‘old’ favourite, ‘Hearts A Mess’ sees Gotye depart to a well-deserved standing ovation, before quickly returning after an almost comically short encore break due to strict noise restrictions.
The encore featured the infectious instrumental ‘Seven Hours With A Backseat Driver’, that saw De Backer deftly swap between the melodica, his beloved percussion, and what seems like a dinosaur toy; then the soulful ‘I Feel Better’, where the previously seated throng swarm to the stage.
The night is fittingly ended with Wally De Backer behind the drums on ‘Learnalilgivinanlovin’, bringing the night to a frenetic and enthusiastic conclusion that allowed every member to showcase their vast talents, and also saw the return of Barry Morgan.
In the triumphant homecoming show, Gotye proved that beyond the incredible hype that surrounds that song, the young man from Montmorency has an impressive back catalogue that is entirely capable of filling the expansive venues that he is now playing around the world.