It was always going to be a special night in Melbourne as Gang Of Youths returned to the city to grace the stage of the Forum Theatre for the opening night of their long string of tour dates across the country. The band, just returning from the US opening for the Foo Fighters, were happy to be home and performing to their fans in a city so dedicated to the band, they not only sold out eight shows, but had a mural painted in the band’s honour.
Charlie Collins was the only opening act of the night. A long time friend of the band she seemed pleased from the bottom of her heart to see them not only succeed, but to draw such a large crowd. Yet, Charlie was no walkover performance herself, bringing a beautiful mood to settle over The Forum before Gang Of Youths took to the stage. Charlie covered all of her well known tracks, “Wish You Were Here”, “Please Let Me Go” and “Whose Going To Save You Now?” as the former Tigertown artist’s flowing acoustic guitar sounds and emotive lyrics captured the audience.
Gang Of Youths’ “Say Yes To Life” tour followed the course of their award winning album, Farther In Lightness and opened with a dazzling rendition of “Fear & Trembling”, with Dave strutting an acoustic guitar and adding some fiery strumming to start the night off with a bang; “What Can I Do If The Fire Goes Out” and “Atlas Drowned” rounded out the starting songs with each track pumping up the crowd and getting them ready for a full night of the band.
It’s always a special treat to be able to see Gang Of Youths live, as the band has as much fun up onstage as those in the crowd, with Dave leading the band through some of his witty banter and fun. His honest persona makes for the perfect front man, engaging with the crowd on many occasions, making jokes and even humorously spoiling the end of “Lord of the Flies” for those who hadn’t read it yet.
Dave’s tender understanding of the human heart also lent itself to further connect with his crowd as moments such as the dedication of “The Heart Is A Muscle” to his father and his loving connection of Joji up on stage bringing another dimension to the band to the stage.
“Persevere” was a solemn and poignant moment within the Forum as Dave worked one of the band’s most personal songs on the grand piano. The song, written about Dave’s friend and their loss displayed how the emotional depths that a track could take a crowd to as their would not have been a single fan distracted throughout the length of the song.
The encore was made up of well known classics by the band, but still had that focus coming off of the MTV Unplugged (Live in Melbourne), making sure that the closing track of the main set; “Still Unbeaten Life” making a significant impact on the set.
In wonderful fashion, Gang Of Youths chose to finish their opening show with “Say Yes To Life”, as Dave stylishly shredded through a “Bohemian Rhapsody” guitar solo within the bridge. The song was the band’s way of encouraging the crowd to follow their calling, and an energetic way for them to close the night. And for themselves, it no doubt excitedly prepared their own selves for the next seven shows over the course of coming weeks.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Gang of Youths are currently touring with Charlie Collins around the country. All shows are sold out. For more details head to gangofyouths.com.