MTV’s seminal Unplugged series has hit Australian shores for the first time in history. The event was exclusive to Melbourne and hosted in collaboration with Visit Victoria. Two of Australia’s trailblazing acts Gang Of Youths and Amy Shark opened the event at The Meat Market’s Cobblestone Pavilion.

The first instalment of Unplugged featured arguably the most beloved band in Australia, Gang Of Youths. The night saw the band perform a moving stripped-down set. Consisting of mostly songs from their critically-acclaimed second album Go Farther In Lightness.

Gang Of Youths, MTV Unplugged – Photo by Jay Wennington

The stage featured an installation of over 1,200 long-stemmed red roses suspended from the ceiling. An apparent homage to Nirvana’s Unplugged performance in November 1993.

Nirvana, MTV Unplugged, 1993

Taking to the stage frontman Dave Le’aupepe opened the show with “Welcome everyone to Melbourne, I’m Dave, we’re Gang Of Youths and this is MTV Unplugged”. Before launching into ‘Let Me Down Easy’.

There could not have been a more perfect band to kick off the Unplugged proceedings than Gang Of Youths. The band flourished in a stripped-down environment. Accompanied by a string and horn section. The set highlighted the magic nuances of Gang’s music and made it all the more surreal. Gang Of Youths are a beacon of kindness and unadulterated feeling. Their Unplugged performance was moving, grandiose without pretension and unapologetically earnest.

The band tore through a fervent set compromised of Let Me Down Easy, Fear & Trembling, Keep Me In The Open, The Deepest Sighs, the Frankest Shadows, The Heart Is A Muscle, Persevere, L’Imaginaire, Do Not Let Your Spirit Wane, Go Farther In Lightness and Still Unbeaten Life.

Amy Shark MTV
Amy Shark, MTV Unplugged – Photo by Jay Wennington

The following night Amy Shark took the stage. Shark’s performance was a more traditional Unplugged set. It saw Shark take the stage with an acoustic guitar accompanied only by a drummer, secondary guitarist and bassist.

Shark’s performance was nothing short of charming. Surrounded by hundreds of candles, Shark exclaimed that the setting “felt like the audience was in her living room with her”. Her presence is equally as captivating as it is self-effacing. Prefacing almost all of her songs with detailed backstories on how they came to be.

It’s been a massive few weeks for Amy Shark. Her debut album Love Monster topped the ARIA charts

Her setlist consisted of Drive You Mad, Don’t Turn Around, Leave Us Alone, Teenage Dirtbag (Wheatus cover), Never Coming Back, Blood Brothers, Psycho, I’m A Liar, All Loved Up, Weekends, Riptide (a Vance Joy cover, which Shark claims she hasn’t played since “a small pub gig in Queensland), I Said Hi and of course Adore.

MTV’s Unplugged is still as revolutionary now as it was thirty years ago. These two nights were monumental, it is a great privilege to be able to witness artists exhibit their craftsmanship in a setting as intimate as Unplugged.

You’ll be able to catch the first Unplugged next month. The Gang Of Youths broadcast will be airing on August 19 at 6pm on MTV on Foxtel, Foxtel Now and Fetch.

MTV Unplugged Melbourne: Amy Shark will broadcast September 16 at 6 pm. 

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