Human Nature Live 2022 – People Get Ready, Again @ Hamer Hall, Saturday 14 May, 2022
Header image by Kate Arnott.

A thread that runs through Human Nature Live 2022 – People Get Ready, Again is just how much the internationally acclaimed vocal group has fought against being labelled a “boy band” over the years. Throughout, audiences are taken on a journey from back when four school boys – Toby Allen, Phil Burton, Andrew and Mike Tierney – formed a doo-wop group called The 4 Trax before transforming into Human Nature (growing/dyeing hair, piercing eyebrows), signing with Sony Music and then rapidly becoming one of Australia’s biggest musical exports. They supported Michael Jackson on his 1996 HIStory World Tour, ferchrissakes!

Human Nature open with an a cappella version of Curtis Mayfield’s People Get Ready – the song that landed them a record deal when they performed it at Sony HQ back in the day – and we’re immediately reminded of the intoxicating magic that happens when these four particular voices harmonise. As for Allen’s how-low-can-you-go bass contributions in isolation? Just, wow.

Rewinding to The 4 Trax days with Earth Angel, HN then transport us back to one of their first live performances (aside from busking) at Bankstown Town Hall. By the end of this song, all assembled collectively exhale and forget about their woes for set’s duration.

Between stellar performances of songs representing their entire extensive back catalogue, the ‘Naycha’ boys share often-hilarious personal reminiscences as they chart their rise from self-confessed “mega-virgins” touring Australia’s shopping centre circuit to global hitmakers securing endless residencies on the Las Vegas Strip. Multi-instrumentalist Darryl Beaton is roped in for extra comedic value throughout the show and is a jolly good sport, playing recorder and attempting some kinda Riverdance-inspired jig during Danny Boy, and donning a blond mullet for HN’s smashing Farnsy duet, Everytime You Cry.

We’re reminded the group took the stage dressed as ‘the Human Nature police’ (“here to arrest your hearts”) for one of their early headline tours before they show off those enviable synchronised dance moves during He Don’t Love You (which they actually performed on Neighbours, at Erinsborough High’s debutante ball no less – Wishes, too). This is just about as ‘boy band’ as HN get, and they even strip down to muscle tees for a dance break that incorporates some variations on The Running Man.

Following interval, we’re introduced to “Zoomin’ Nature” where “pants are optional”. The four guys sport shorts, activewear and even Uggs below the waist – much like we all do during Zoom meetings these days. The audience guffaws while they deliver a stirring rendition of Eternal Flame, which feels delightfully irreverent. Bringing us up to the now, HN perform a smattering of songs from their latest Good Good Life EP, including the glorious Broken Humans for which Guy Sebastian joins “virtually” (via giant video screen).

Once the quartet don matching, immaculately tailored hot-pink jackets, it’s time for a taste-of-Vegas finale. Dancing in the Street, Runaround Sue and the irrepressible Ain’t No Mountain High Enough are all joyously received as many punters spill into the aisles, desperately seeking extra dancing space.

When Human Nature first sang for one of their idols, Smokey Robinson (who became their mentor), the Motown legend observed: “Black or white, it really doesn’t matter what colour your vocal cords are.”

They’ve been singing and performing together for a whopping 33 years now, and Human Nature are, undoubtedly, consummate entertainers. Those among us who entered Hamer Hall as Broken Humans today exit with renewed vigour and joie de vivre thanks to this much-needed dose of Human Nature live.

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