– by Aliza Caruso
Chet Faker, Friday 20 February, Chevron Festival Garden
My first show back at the beautiful Chevron Festival Gardens for 2015 exceeded all expectations. I thought, perhaps, the excitement of seeing Melbourne’s very own bearded heartthrob of downtempo-electro-soul would subdue as I took a shy, lone seat towards the back of the performance space. Turns out I was very wrong. It also turns out Chet’s fanbase consists of some of the loveliest human beings on the planet, as I immediately struck up a friendship with some folks in the seats next to me, who made me feel welcome and not-so-singled-out. I guess going to a concert by yourself isn’t actually that scary in the end, hey?
There was a cool breeze in the air as up and coming Melbourne electro duo, GL, took to the stage. At first they looked a little out of comforts, but slowly loosened up as the audience started to warm to them. A perfect accompaniment to Chet; they had the beats and the voice. Armed with one, rather neat, keyboard/synth setup and a voice my new concert pal described as “the love child of Kimbra and Katy Steele”, they were pretty impressive (and super groovy). They entertained us for a good 40 minutes with upbeat dance tracks reminiscent of some 80s disco, and slower electro-pop numbers, reminding me of Madonna for some reason. With only the two of them, they had a big, well-rounded sound. I would have never guessed that they were supposed to have another keyboard (which was accidently left on the plane). Would highly recommend a listen here.
Then it was time for Mr Chet Faker (aka Nick Murphy) to take to the stage and, boy, was there an applause. Amongst the clusters of screaming, fangirling teens, there were also heaps of older fans too, especially this one super cute couple I noticed, who were probably bordering on 70. Just goes to show his music seems to be entering the hearts and homes of people of all ages and demographics, which is amazing, particularly for an electronic artist. I guess he’s just a loveable kinda guy.
After kicking off his set with an impressive, upbeat, instrumental jam session on the keys, he was joined on stage by the rest of his live band for tracks including ‘Release Your Problems’, ‘To Me’, ‘I’m Into You’, and ‘1998’, which had the crowd clapping along like a spectacular surround-sound metronome. The setlist also included a magical new cover of Van Morrison’s ‘Moondance’, which was so unexpectedly emotional, I got goosebumps.
Later, Chet explained that, incredibly, he writes, records, produces, and releases his own music independently, which is pretty tough. Upon learning this, my respect and admiration for him grew by about 3000%. He was genuinely so humble, sincere, and grateful to the fans for supporting him over the past few years, insisting that he owes his success not so much to himself, but to the people who listen to his music and go to his (sold out) shows. Naturally, it was at this point in the evening that he played his first ever successful single, a cover of Blackstreet’s ‘No Diggity’, which had the crowd singing and dancing along together.
After an abrupt ending, and bit of needy-crowd chanting, Chet returned for a four-song encore including ‘Cigarettes & Loneliness’ and ‘Gold’. He closed the evening with a raw, intimate performance of The Hottest 100 #1 ‘Talk Is Cheap’, which saw him slow the tempo right down to a gentle lullaby and completely become one with the piano, under a single spotlight. It was a beautiful moment, which highlighted his talents away from the beats and the synths, showcasing his diversity and divine singing capabilities.
It was a truly special finale to a lovely night, with a lot of shared kisses in the crowd and an overwhelming sense of calm washing over the Festival Gardens like a welcomed breeze on a hot summer night.
Photo Credit: Aliza Caruso