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There’s no disputing that 2012 has been Wally De Backer’s (aka Gotye) year. Topping pretty much every music chart around the world, sweeping the ARIAs for the second year, getting Grammy nominations, and receiving hundreds of millions of YouTube hits is just the tip of the iceberg of what he’s achieved.
The only thing that’s really been missing has been a stack of live dates in his homeland to celebrate his elevation from shy indie sensation to worldwide megastar. That moment emphatically arrived on Saturday night when fans packed in to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl to see him at his hometown show in Melbourne.
Although a lot of the crowd were still arriving and not paying oodles of attention, Bertie Blackman and her two-piece band warmed the stage with a nice collection of tunes that set the tone for the evening. Most of these hailed from this year’s record Pope Innocent X and her ARIA-award winning debut Secrets and Lies.
After a short break, the lights went down and everybody screamed as Gotye’s ten-piece band made their way onto the stage. The man himself also casually slid on with them – as if he didn’t want take all the focus away from the band.
What followed was a superb 90-minute showcase of Wally De Backer’s musical abilities and showmanship, and why he’s become loved by so many punters around the globe. Along with belting out a diverse range of vocals and fiddling around with his synth pad, De Backer switched instruments mid-song on several occasions and began thrashing away on the drum kit, adding to the textured sounds the band was producing.
Bookended by two choice tracks from his 2006 record Like Drawing Blood – The Only Way and Heart’s A Mess – the majority of the set was filled with tracks from his most recent album Making Mirrors. These were complimented by some stunning visuals on the giant screen behind the band, which really added to the impact of the songs.
A handful of special guests added some extra zing to the set – bouncy organ extraoardiare Mr. Barry Morgan added a few extra bleeps and keys to the reggae-tinged State of the Art, and waved around a few signs with ‘Mr. Gotye :)’ on them for good measure. Meanwhile Bertie Blackman returned to the stage…naturally to do Kimbra’s vocals in that all-conquering hit, Somebody That I Used to Know.
But the party really started in the encore: after playing Seven Hours With a Backseat Driver, a casual invitation from Gotye to “come on down and have a dance up the front” saw punters bolt off their seats to do just that. The oh-so-upbeat I Feel Better was pumped out to max effect, and then, Barry Morgan returned to help out for an epic ending with Learnalilgivinanlovin.
My friend said to me: “He (Gotye) would never have imagined this man – all these people and his friends and family here to see him, it’s crazy.” Indeed, if this gig was a long-aspired dream for Wally De Backer, it certainly played out that way for him – and 10,000-odd punters giving him a standing ovation at its conclusion was testament to that.