Live Review: Chet Faker, June 27 @ The Enmore
Words by Scenewave Australia - Published on July 1, 2014
Chet Faker aka Nick Murphy is astoundingly talented. His voice is effortlessly strong, perfectly tuned, and without a single melodic fault. He also has a talent for writing soulful, sensual grooves that meld R’n’B and electronic, produced and live instruments with fluidity and maturity far beyond his years.
In short, I hate him.
It’s so easy to forget that Built on Glass, his first album, was released less than three months ago. Before that, all Murphy had officially released was the Thinking in Textures EP and Lockjaw EP, a collaborative effort with everyone’s favourite electro-wunderkind Flume.
It’s safe to say that the work with Flume helped him gain popularity before the album – and it probably explains the hordes of screeching teenage fangirls, who closely rivaled bearded hipsters in terms of attendance numbers at the Enmore Theatre on Friday.
I unfortunately arrived late, missing the opening acts. After wading through the packed crowd, we didn’t have to wait long until Murphy came on stage.
The set was strong from the start, and the music continued getting better. Opening with a haunting, minimal cover of Burial’s Archangel set the mood, and we were off. I loved how a few tracks were really different to the recordings, and some just blew up in ways only imaginable in the live setting. It’s amazing to hear a song transform from soulful ballad to hectic banger with the simple addition of heavier beats and great lighting. The crowd lapped up every moment.
The night had a strong, well-rehearsed structure. The setlist was impeccably designed, jumping back and forth through his small yet rich discography, treating crowds to everything they wanted to hear.
Interestingly, Murphy included some standalone improvisation. He gave a meaningful (but self-involved) speech to the crowd about how electronic music has lost the beauty of live performance, explaining that live music allows you to make mistakes and keep things interesting. “Please enjoy my fuck ups,” he remarked, before getting into some live production. It was incredible to watch him work, creating beats, loops, sounds and melodies right in front of us.
Did he fuck up? We’ll never know.
My only criticism of the night were these long-winded speeches that kept popping up between tracks. I found them to be a little over the top and a little unnecessary. I guess that, being alone on stage with naught but some production equipment, you feel the need to break it up, walk around a bit, interact with the audience. But he just kept rambling on, and a lot of it was pretty soaked in self-love.
In retrospect, I understand that it’s probably his biggest headline tour, I figure he wants his fans to know what he’s got to say, but I still think it ruined it a bit for me. His performance is so fucking electrifying and beautiful, and the speeches in between tracks kept ripping me out of the moment.
Anyway, my frustration only lingered for half the set. Murphy was later joined on stage by a drummer and guitarist for a couple tracks including a stunning rendition of Jeff Buckley’s I Want Someone Badly (it also reminded me how much I absolutely adore Jeff Buckley, so thanks for that.)
As much as I loved the electronic tracks, the moment Murphy was joined by a live band made me wish that he fronted one permanently. I only wish we’d seen some saxophone too, as the tracks that feature sax are some of the most beautiful on the album.
He gave another speech before heading straight into the song that put him on the map: No Diggity. He asked audience members to put away their phones, assuring us that we can easily find a recording of his live shows by simply typing his name into YouTube.
Anyway, the crowd obliged, and then went nuts. Simply put, this is a fucking great song. Everything about it is great. That hip shakin’ rhythm, catchy licks and that baby-makin’ chorus had the audience loving every moment.
Shifting straight from No Diggity to Drop The Game was great, and the whole crowd sang along as it happened. That bass hits so hard in the live setting, it just sounded so damn good.
Halfway through the song, Murphy left his equipment for a moment and walked to the side of the stage, beckoning at something – or someone. Suddenly, the audience started screeching and cheering to an almost deafening level. Walking out on stage looking uncomfortable save for a sheepish grin, it was none other than Harley Streten, aka Flume. He didn’t stand there for long before disappearing again, but man, it was a seriously special moment.
The gig rounded off really nicely after a short encore. The final song, a stripped back Talk is Cheap, was an intimate and emotionally evocative way to bring the night to a close.
The variety in the set kept every moment different from the last: the electro-bangers, the live band, improvisation and covers was so precisely choreographed and wonderfully diverse.
Considering the structure, it’s unsurprising (but a little irritating) that reports from all shows on his tour so far have been near identical regarding the set, structure and speeches. But really, who cares? Why change something that works so well?
The only thing which pissed me off were the self-aggrandising monologues that broke up the music. Apart from that though, it was a fantastic, impressive set – one which I would happily see again and again.