Living his authentic self suits Darren Hayes, if his energy on the Brisbane stop of his “Do You Remember?” tour was anything to go by.
Perhaps energised by being in his home city, or that it’s the final stop on his Australian leg – his planned Gold Coast show was cancelled due to lower-than-expected ticket sales (something the singer was very candid about admitting) – whatever lit a spark under Hayes’s dancing feet was infectious whenever he catered to the crowd’s thirst for up-tempo bangers (as the kids would say).
Given that he’s named his tour “Do You Remember?” it makes sense that he stroll down memory lane; though, given how prolific his songs were as part of Savage Garden, it’s a question he needn’t ask. After getting the crowd in the mindset that the show itself would be partly-inspired by his evident love of sexually suggestive synth pop and heyday Madonna (he even relayed a story about the importance of her “Ray of Light” album during a time when he was coming to terms with his sexuality) by performing Pete Shelley’s “Homosapien”, it wasn’t long before a collection of crowd-thumpers continued his intended positive-fuelled atmosphere; the Savage Garden duo of “Affirmation” and “The Animal Song” followed, before a disco-funkified interpretation of his debut solo single, 2002’s lush “Insatiable”, which he intercut with Patrice Rushen’s post-disco 1982 classic “Forget Me Nots”.
After maintaining momentum with clear crowd favourite “To The Moon and Back”, Hayes momentarily halted the party atmosphere to get intimate. Dedicating the sweet “Keep Moving On” to his mother, the singer turned inward to share his mindset around the height of his success with Savage Garden and how, no matter how much he and his wife, Colby Taylor, loved each other, he had to admit the truth about his own sexuality. “I didn’t want to be gay, but my soul needed me to be” were the all-too relatable words Hayes uttered to the crowd, then talking of how the aforementioned Madonna record, and specifically her album cut “The Power of Goodbye”, inspired the two to talk openly and honestly about their marriage and his needs. It was surprisingly candid and added another layer of emotionality to the following performances of “I Don’t Know You Anymore” and “I Knew I Loved You”.
Aware that the crowd could only endure so much heartbreak-by-association, Hayes, by his own admission, decided to shift the mood entirely with his “gay stuff”, a party-set inspired by his latest album, “Homosexual”. Here, ironically, is where the audience started to feel less engaged, despite the music itself demanding attention; “Do You Remember?” and “All You Pretty Things” leaning heavily into the 80’s-inspired disco wave that much of the current music scene is adopting. Whilst the album itself was heavily acclaimed, and it managed a top 20 placing on the charts (it peaked at #16 in October last year), it was clear that not enough of the adoring crowd were overly familiar with the material, and some awkward staging and less-than-polished choreography meant each performance was met with less enthusiasm than the last.
Whatever dip in engagement took place was rectified with another trio of Savage Garden numbers, each one livelier than the last; “Break Me Shake Me”, “Crash and Burn”, and, seemingly the one most people were anticipating, “Truly Madly Deeply” faux-closing the show. Despite the fake-out, it was evident Hayes had a few more miles in his tank, encoring with staple classic “I Want You” and the glorious “The Best Thing”. It was here that he placed joy on his accompanying band – Lee Novak on bass and Karl Lewis on drums – and background singers, Maddie Coghlan, Sharon Muscat and Virna Sanzone; each getting their moment to shine as a soloist as “The Best Thing” continued as an instrumental, with interpolations of the classic Ronettes single, “Be My Baby”.
In spite of the production’s need for some tightening and polishing regarding the staging and choreography, Hayes, his open personality, and beautiful falsetto maintained the overall engagement. The love he had for his Brisbane crowd was overflowing, and he received it back in droves. Something that will be remembered on both ends, without question.
THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
You can read more about Darren Hayes’s Australian tour through our Sydney coverage and exclusive interview here. Tickets for his remaining international dates available through his official website. His album “Homosexual” is out now through Powdered Sugar Productions LTD.