For a band whose music is as atmospheric and often slow-burning as theirs, Gang Of Youths have some ridiculously rowdy fans. Before the local fivesome had even warbled out their first notes, beered-up punters were whipping around the Enmore’s sticky, storied dancefloor like toddlers on ketamine. Their excitement was not only infectious, but justified too – after all, tonight’s immediately sold-out headline show was rescheduled from over two months prior, when frontman David Le'aupepe was stricken by a last-minute chest infection and forced to cancel the original show just hours out from its kickoff.
It didn't help that every other show on the Say Yes To Life tour went ahead, so the FOMO of tonight's punters stung especially hard. Two months of delay meant two months of pent up hysteria; pent up desperation to belt along with every acute and anthemic lyric that spewed from Le’aupepe’s gorgeous face; pent up readiness to pump fists with every rumbling semi-hollow jut and pent up determination to crowdsurf from the very back of the mosh right into a security guard's face. And so, when the goosebump-inducing first chorus of the stately "Fear And Trembling" rolled in, all of that glorious commotion rippled through the venue like an atom bomb's shockwave. Throats were ravaged, hair was whipped and bodies went flying. And goddamn, was it a beautiful sight!
Across a tight two hours, Gang Of Youths took us on a journey through the ups and downs of their defiantly dynamic portfolio – largely drawing from their smash-hit 2017 record, Go Farther In Lightness, but with a few choice cuts from The Positions (2015) and Let Me Be Clear (2016) sprinkled throughout (though we maintain there were a few missed opportunities for some of the bigger jams from the former to shine). Their two biggest singles busted out
back-to-back, "Magnolia" brewed a singalong that almost drowned Le'aupepe's vocals out, and "Let Me Down Easy" spurred carousing hips en masse.
Surprisingly, though, it was the softer moments of the night – the equally buoyant and melancholic "Keep Me In The Open", and a rare, especially somber rendition of "Knuckles White Dry", performed solo by Le'aupepe from behind a grand piano and dedicated to his late father – that truly reflected the grandiose scope in which Gang Of Youths revel.
From the masterfully dense and layer-friendly mixing to the kaliedoscopic light show, Le'aupepe's ultra-suave dance moves (those f***ing hips!) and the set-capping burst of clown white confetti (set to a mashup of their own "Say Yes To Life" crescendo and the iconic "Bohemian Rhapsody" solo), theatricality reigned at the forefront of the set. When their talents all fused, the band's chemistry was simply jaw-dropping – it bordered on Broadway in composition, but via some undoubtedly fantastical witchcraft, they managed to avoid ever looking like they'd had one too many rehearsals. There was a nonchalant confidence that flowed through all five of them, bassist Max Dunn and guitarist Joji Malani notedly laidback as they tore through some of the biggest hooks this venue had seen in recent history.
Because of course, at the end of it all, none of the wild production or histrionics would work if Gang Of Youths weren't phenomenal performers in their own right.We're hesitant to brand them "the next INXS" or anything similar – this far into their career, they're already better and exhibit more genuine, unfettered ardour. They're destined to go down in history amongst Australia's biggest and best, and shows like tonight's – the kind of show that punters look back on decades later with heartfelt reverence – are proof of that.
Opening the show was Tamworth-native indie goddess Charlie Collins. Her twangy, soul-caressing brand of youthful indie-pop bellowed through the Enmore with authoritarian might, Collins weilding her acoustic guitar with more forceful dynamism than virtuosos thrice her age. Her songs were steeped in narrative and strewn together with sparse instrumentals – twee, but energetic enough to capture the venue's attention and keep it safe in her palm for the 30 minutes she and her three-piece backing band jammed for.
Catch our full gallery of photos from Gang Of Youths in Sydney after the jump!