Gotye proves to be much more than just “that song”CultureMusicLive music
Belgian-born, Australian-bred electronic pop artist Gotye is suffering somewhat from the dreaded popstar’s curse: the über-success of a single song.
Somebody I Used to Know is the ultimate earworm and has been covered, remixed, and covered again. He acknowledged this at his Hammersmith Apollo gig, a little begrudgingly but still good-naturedly, while switching up the set to that he could delve into his other material as soon as possible.
And while it is undoubtedly a strong pop tune, it was possibly the weakest in a night of very good music, and doesn’t deserve to be everything he is known for.
Opening the show on a raised platform behind the rest of the band with The Only Way from the 2006 album Like Drawing Blood, it quickly became clear that Gotye really likes to hit things. And he’s really good at it. An accomplished drummer, if he’s not hitting synth pads, he’s filling in on a second set of drums, hitting the bass player’s strings with drumsticks, clicking, clapping, and generally driving the percussive theme of his tracks and playing lead drums on some too.
Roving around the stage from instrument to instrument like a kid in a sweetshop, he also plays keys and tinkers with electronics and effects, all the while holding down the vocals; he’s as versatile as his tracks, which interleave genres and instruments, technology and techniques.
Highlights were mainly from the latest album, Making Mirrors, and included the reggae-beat, vocally-distorted State of the Art; the Nirvana-esque rock of Easy Way Out (far heavier and more exciting live than on the record); the bluesy, dark sound of Smoke and Mirrors; and the personal, quiet trance of Giving Me A Chance, which featured yet more percussion as two metallophones were brought on stage.
Superb animation shorts using techniques from stop motion to live action were projected on the backdrop and perfectly supported the fluid storytelling of each song.
Although completely amiable, Gotye didn’t pull any punches with the crowd as he reasonably requested a bit of hush for two particularly quiet numbers, which in return were very beautiful and showed off a lovely range to his voice, and he afterwards muttered a little about the manners of those who didn’t oblige.
A well-conceived and playful show backed by a terrific band, he exploited, exploded and embellished his recorded tracks in the live environment and really showcased a true creative depth.
Photos: Bartek Odias
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