The beard may be gone, but rest assured – Chet Faker is still the king of Australian soul music. On Friday, thousands of fans flocked into the infamous Opera House forecourt for the first show in the new summer series that will welcome both Tame Impala and Florence and the Machine to the prestigious venue. But tonight, we would all hide under our ponchos as Sydney fell into darkness, enraptured by Chet Faker, Nick Murphy’s alter ego.
The genre of soul seems too otherworldly for most everyday music goers, making it a real feat to bring the genre to the foreground of the Australian music scene. Yet, Chet Faker transcends these barriers, his concoction of electronic, R&B, and soul creating a live experience that is sophisticated, charming and oozes charisma.
The set was meticulously thought out, encouraging the audience to get off their feet and boogie away one moment, the next emboldening them to hold their loved ones tight. If the women weren’t swooning already, they definitely were upon his cover of The Carpenters’ “Close To You”. I’m sure more than a few women were imagining him singing this melody to them – why do birds suddenly appear, Chet?
The audience was completely captivated by his aura, particularly evident when the man himself commanded for no one to use their phones and to just be in the moment in one of his more popular songs, [cover of] “No Diggity”. Encouraging people to call out on people being ‘dickheads’ if they disobeyed him, he also encouraged the crowd to call any rebel ‘basic’ – the ultimate insult. What ensued was a song that really got everyone paying attention to his finesse as Faker dominated vocals, keys, and everything in between.
Nick Murphy is undoubtedly aware of what it takes to make a live show really sizzle. The inclusion of the sometimes-four, sometimes-eight piece band of soul singers added a richness to his music, compensating for some audio difficulties that were out of his control. The inclusion of Marcus Marr was a treat for the crowd, reiterating the intensive thought process that has gone behind this show.
Crowds rose to the final song, “Talk Is Cheap”, electrifying the audience in a way that only the winner of Triple J’s Hottest 100 can. At times, it became difficult to hear Faker, only because every man, woman, and child were singing along with a great degree of enthusiasm. Though it was beautiful, I can’t help but wonder why the audiences pent-up energy only surfaced in the last song – it’s a shame that he is still widely remembered for a few songs, but this is through no fault of his own. Chet Faker demonstrates that even if you get in the Hottest 100 three or four times, there’s an irrevocable talent that extends beyond the charts and countdowns.