Enmore Theatre felt like it was hosting a festival set on Friday night for the Sydney show which was the closing city of Hayden James’ Just Friends tour. The all ages event in the record producer’s hometown brought overall a very young crowd who had seemingly pre-gamed and were ready to party all night long. They got their chance with a show that delivered from start to finish.
The first act was Happiness Is Wealth, a duo of Surahn Sidhu and Omar Varts I had never heard of but didn’t take long to impress me with their unique style. They were DJ’s who actually sing live with their tracks which made sense as Surahn was a touring vocalist for Flight Facilities. Their set had strong disco vibes with deep beats that made everyone want to get down and dance straight away.
Second act Brisbane rapper Carmouflage Rose has been gaining a lot of attention lately and is getting the crowds to match. The confidence from that continued as he brought a huge presence to the stage which had the floor of the historic venue literally bouncing as everyone shared his infectious energy. The RnB and quickfire rap with reggae sounds of his hits “Late Nights”, “Wildflowers” and “Taste” got the whole theatre well and truly warmed up for the main act.
Starting off slow with smoke rolling in across the stage and spectacular space themed visuals he teased us with the start of “Just A Lover”. Emerging to mass cheers the atmosphere changed as he added layers of sound to speed up the song before dropping the beat and saying very happily, ‘Sydney I’ve been waiting so long for this!’.
Remixing CamelPhat & Elderbrook’s “Cola” I immediately noticed a difference to sets of his I have seen in the past. Much more mellower with him than usual adding guitar for live instrumentals and a somewhat spacier feel to how to he synthesised things. Mixing piano notes to “Cola” he moved into the ‘I want to dance’ of Odesza’s “Say My Name” featuring Zyra. The crowd was fully engaged as was he letting loose on his electronic drums while he had a live vocalist in between adding lyrics.
Cutting to the opening harmonies of the crowd favourite “Just Friends” the catchy beat and lyrics with vocals from Boy Matthews he shows how he is at the top of his game performing live constantly keeping the audience engaged. Playing “Permission To Love” he continues quick beats and changes. Slowing it down a little for “Embrace” James seems to be enjoying himself as much as everybody else and with playing a sold out venue he can really do whatever he likes.
While the start of is set was fast and synthesized he slows the pace down again adding the electric guitar but the vibe doesn’t lag staying constant all the way through attested by the mass bodies swaying to and fro. Taking a new approach on his remix of Duke Dumont’s “Ocean Drive” he once again was giving bits and pieces of the song which left the crowd begging for more. The deep drums had everyone dancing with the beat of “Innerbloom” by RÜFÜS before mixing in the melodic “There’s Something About To You” with the perfect build to break into more dance to end incase you hadn’t moved enough.
It wouldn’t be a concert however without the question of will or wont he come back out for an encore. Knowing he hadn’t played one of his sultry summer anthems “NUMB” I knew the answer and he answered loud and clear coming back with special guest GRAACE on vocals with everyone singing and feeling the raw emotions with every lyrics. While I will admit I felt slightly out of place at the start being in such a young crowd and solo while reviewing, I soon lost myself in the music along with my inhibitions. James takes you on a journey and shows you just how talented he is which can be seen with the success of his tour. I predict this success is set to continue until the end of a massive year for him.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Hayden James is continuing his tour in October through the United States. For more information and show dates please visit his official website https://haydenjamesmusic.com
The reviewer attended the Hayden James performance at the Enmore Theatre Sydney on Friday, 21st September 2018.