Review: Fatboy Slim supported by 2manydjs, Icarus, and Love Deluxe at Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne, January 24th, 2020.
When English big beat icon Fatboy Slim announced his return to Australia last year, music fans around the country reacted with sheer delight. A staple of the charts and radio airwaves for decades, there’s no denying that Aussies love old mate Norman Cook.
Last in the country for a one-off Tasmanian show in 2019, it’s been a few years since the mainland got a chance to catch him live, with his last run of Aussie shows taking place as part of 2018’s Electric Gardens festival.
However, with a long-awaited run of local shows kicking off this week, it was obvious that Fatboy Slim was set to make these shows something to write home about, with the music legend starting his Aussie trek with a typically-huge headline performance at Melbourne’s Sidney Myer Music Bowl.
Check out ‘Eat Sleep Rave Repeat’ by Fatboy Slim:
With the warm afternoon sun beating down on the Victorian capital on Friday night, it was no surprise to see that folks were taking their after-work entertainment lightly, with legions of music fans slowly sauntering towards the Sidney Myer Music Bowl for an evening of high-intensity entertainment.
Though gates opened at 5:30, the audience size was criminally small by the time things really kicked off, with Sydney’s Love Deluxe taking to the stage with what can only be described a handful of people in attendance in the stalls, and only a few more out on the lawn.
Nevertheless, the local tunelord quickly got to work, spinning a raft of tracks that undoubtedly got a few heads nodding in the process. Armed with a stack of smooth, summery numbers, Love Deluxe’s far too short set was a memorable one, with his appearance helping to perfectly soundtrack the slowly setting sun.
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Decked out in a yellow shirt against a sparse, yellow background bearing his name, the mysterious musician almost seemed invisible at times, though his intense professionalism saw him barely looking up from his workbench, delivering tunes by Luke Million, Crazy P, Late Nite Tuff, and Joey Negro, before wrapping it all up with his own ‘Cool Breeze Over The Mountains Single’.
Though Love Deluxe might be one name Aussie punters are urged to look out for, one can only hope some later start times will see him able to be discovered by more folks in the future.
Check out ‘Cool Breeze Over The Mountains’ by Love Deluxe:
Before too long, it was clear that punctuality was of the utmost importance to organisers, with England’s Icarus appearing before us in no time at all. The moniker of brothers Tom and Ian Griffiths, Icarus has been making waves for a while, with a tour alongside Australia’s own Rüfüs Du Sol appearing on their resumé.
As one might expect with an endorsement like that behind them, it didn’t take long before Icarus kicked off a stunning set, dropping an array of slick house tracks. Beginning proceedings with their own tune ‘Echoes’, a smooth introductory piece gave way to a bunch of melodic notes which were accompanied by some familiar thumping beats.
Before long, we were well into it, with the pair never flying too high, but keeping the audience right in that sweet spot thanks to tunes by the likes of Justin Martin, Tiger Stripes, and Melé, while Cousn’s ‘Brain Ticker’ amped up the action and helped convince some of the sadly apathetic crowd to really get in on the action.
Following a handful of similarly-themed tunes (including a few remixes the pair spearheaded and their own ‘October’), Icarus found it time to take their leave from the stage, bidding us farewell after priming us all in a truly professional fashion.
Check out ‘October’ by Icarus:
As the crowd slowly grew in size, it became far too apparent that folks had bought tickets solely to catch the evening’s final two acts, with Belgium’s 2manydjs bursting forth in their smart-casual suits, as a torrent of eager audience members flooded the lower reaches of the Music Bowl’s stalls section.
With the duo of David and Stephen Dewaele (otherwise known as the main members of Soulwax) being met with rapturous applause, it took them no time at all to take their standard positions, kicking things off with a simply intense version of the Bee Gees’ ‘You Should Be Dancing’.
As punters danced up a storm as if they’d been transported to the sweatiest nightclub in all of Ghent, many eyes were transfixed upon the Dewaeles themselves, with the pair intently focused on their work at hand, deftly manoeuvring their equipment as if it were an extension of their own bodies.
Beats flowed, shapes were thrown, and this musical kaleidoscope continued, with 2manydjs dropping classic after classic, including cuts from Hercules & Love Affair, Blur, and Boys Noize, and managing to deliver a seamless segue between New Order’s ‘Blue Monday’ and their Soulwax remix of Tame Impala’s ‘Let It Happen’.
Though we were transported back to their commercial breakthrough thanks to Felix da Housecat’s ‘Silver Screen Shower Scene’ (which featured on As Heard On Radio Soulwax Pt. 2), the duo weren’t content to rest on their laurels, frequently lulling us into a false sense of security with familiar classics, before raising the intensity before dropping the beat back down and watching the audience lose it.
After delivering a huge singalong by way of Technotronic’s ‘Pump Up The Jam’, 2manydjs dropped KiNK’s ‘Perth’ to finish off their mammoth set, capping it all off by speeding up the track and leaving fans not only in awe of what they had seen, but applauding as if the headline act had just left the stage.
Check out the Soulwax remix of Tame Impala’s ‘Let It Happen’:
Though it would be hard to imagine being tasked wth following up a set like we had just witnessed, it was clear there was only one man for the job; with the most punctual show on Earth welcoming the one and only Fatboy Slim before his legions of cheering fans.
Immediately, it felt as though we were transported into what could only be described as the inner workings of a raver’s mind. As ‘Eat Sleep Rave Repeat’ pounded out from the speaker stack, intense visuals overpowered the atmosphere; accompanying proceedings with Norman Cook’s own mouthing of the lyrics, altered pictures of himself, clips of his old videos, people singing, and unsettling CGI; turning the musical celebration as a sensory overload that could only be described as pure insanity.
As Fatboy Slim whipped through his own classic tunes at breakneck speed (often dropping in vocal snippets which were picked up later like an author following up a character’s train of thought), he snuck in just as many – if not more – big beat anthems with the utmost ease, causing true auditory confusion which worked in a way that was wholly indescribable.
Above all though, the most impressive aspect was truely the sheer intensity, charisma, and professionalism showed by the man himself, with his stage presence so intense and endearing that it felt as though he was almost doing too much at time.
However, instead of taking a well-deserved time out, Fatboy Slim kept on truckin’, delivering a performance that showed he not only knew what his fans wanted, but that he was going to give it to them in spades.
Check out Fatboy Slim’s ‘The Rockafeller Skank’:
With images of ecstasy pills filling the screen, footage of musical icons, and unsettling face-morphing technology, the hits just kept on coming like there was no tomorrow. Though the likes of Stardust’s ‘Music Sounds Better With You’ and Duke Dumont’s ‘Red Light Green Light’ had the crowd moving, it was the addition of familiar Fatboy Slim classics like ‘Where U Iz’ and snippets of ‘The Rockafeller Skank’ that brought about huge bursts of enthusiasm.
Undoubtedly though, highlights of this musical scrapbook featured a mesmerising mix of Childish Gambino’s ‘This Is America’ and FISHER’s ‘Losing It’, while Run‐D.M.C.’s ‘It’s Like That’ was bookended by repeated bouts of ‘Star 69”s familiar vocal hook.
While anyone looking at their watch would be certain barely any time had passed, it was clear we were instead nearing the finale, with a burst of Daft Punk’s ‘One More Time’ quickly giving way to Fatboy Slim’s applause for Greta Thunberg, as the young activist’s speech from the UN Climate Action Summit transitioned into a truly groundbreaking rendition of ‘Right Here, Right Now’.
As folks found themselves barely able to contain themselves, the iconic ‘Praise You’ rang out, with an intense beat drop soon segueing into a return of ‘The Rockafeller Skank’, which in turn was paired with The Rolling Stones’ ‘Satisfaction’ and the Ramones’ ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’, ending this intense set in a truly astounding fashion.
Though some folks appeared somewhat disappointed there weren’t more Fatboy Slim singles and deep cuts thrown into the mix, it felt impossible to find a single audience member who wasn’t espousing their sheer amazement at what they had witnessed through the course of the evening’s proceedings.
Truly, after numerous decades as one of the world’s most iconic musicians and producers, it’s clear that the Brighton beatmaster that is Fatboy Slim is nowhere near the gradual decline that awaits us all one day. Rather, he’s not just at the top of his game, he’s at the cutting edge; setting the standard for not only what a live show should be, but redefining the game itself.
With a number of shows left in the country (including appearances at the Australian Open and a sold-out bushfire relief club show on Tuesday night at Revolver Upstairs), Australian punters lucky enough to have scored a ticket are not only set to receive a show to write home about, but they’re set to receive one of the musical highlights of their lives.
Check out Fatboy Slim’s ‘Praise You’:
Fatboy Slim Australia 2020 Tour
Saturday, January 25th
Riverstage, Brisbane, QLD
Tickets: Frontier Touring
Sunday, January 26th
AO Live Stage
Birrarung Marr, Melbourne, VIC
Tickets: Australian Open
Tuesday, January 28th (Sold Out)
Bushfire Relief Fundraiser
Revolver Upstairs, Melbourne, VIC
Friday, January 31st
The Halls Olympic Park, Sydney, NSW
Tickets: Frontier Touring
Saturday, February 1st
Glenelg Beach, Adelaide, SA
Tickets: Zaccaria Concerts
Sunday, February 2nd
Whitfords Nodes Park, Perth, WA
Tickets: Zaccaria Concerts