The Forum Theatre, Melbourne, Sunday October 28, 2018
Words | Gage Pendergast
Header image by Tim Lambert; see the full gallery here.
After storming through 2017 with their sophomore record Go Farther In Lightness voted ARIA Album of the Year, as well as utterly dominating the Hottest 100 countdown several months ago, Gang of Youths decided to embark on one of the most extensive and thorough Australian tours from any act in recent memory. If the first of eight Melbourne shows at The Forum is anything to go by, the completely sold-out, 21-date, Say Yes To Life tour is going to go down in history.
After an energetic and captivating opening affair filled to the brim with powerful vocals, catchy hooks and a fair share of harmonica melodies from NSW singer-songwriter Charlie Collins, the diverse crowd of seemingly all ages and ethnicities was like a powder keg ready to explode, as Gang of Youths made their way on stage.
The eager audience could barely keep control of themselves through the first half of album opener Fear and Tembling, and, by the time the full band kicked into action midway through the track, the entirety of the venue seemed to launch from the ground in time with the boys’ tempo. From this point onwards we were treated to the first half of Go Farther In Lightness in sequential order – a fact vocalist Dave Le’aupepe realised only retrospectively, and appeared to be annoyed by – but there were no complaints from anybody in the venue, as the songs naturally flowed in a way with which we were all cosily familiar.
The pure musicianship of the entire band was simply invigorating, from Joji Malani’s soaring guitar harmonies in Atlas Drowned to the impressive display of stamina and tempo control from drummer Donnie Borzestowski (particularly in songs like Let Me Down Easy), not to mention the surreal display of musical prowess in closer Say Yes to Life from all, including bassist Max Dunn and keyboardist Jung Kim. The chemistry within Gang of Youths alone was enough to keep the audience engaged for the band’s 90-minute set (which felt like 20).
Early in the night, Le’aupepe reflected on the last time Gang of Youths had played at The Forum. He noted that reviewers had said the band was the weakest on the bill; his goal this time around was to “prove those f-ckers wrong.” It’s safe to say Le’aupepe and company more than validated themselves this evening – and Australia is lucky enough to see that transformation throughout the next month.
Go Farther In Lightness and Gang Of Youths: MTV Unplugged – Live in Melbourne are both out now via Sony.
See our gallery of live snaps from the show.