By Samuel J. Cox
Until the night of Halloween, I’d never set foot inside the art gallery, which is evidence enough that AGWA’s Artbar music series is a success. There to see Nicholas Murphy (a.k.a Chet Faker), jung blud is being enticed into this previously stagnate institution, compounding its recent reinvigoration provided by its relationship with New York’s The Museum of Modern Art.
The sophisticated evening began early, allowing guests to wander the halls and enjoy the current exhibition (Van Gogh, Dali and Beyond: The World Reimagined) before the bearded wonder took to the intimate stage just after eight. Surrounded by the evocative works of modern masters, such as Robert Smithson’s ‘Mono Lake Site Non Site’ and Allen D’Arcangelo’s ‘U.S. Highway 1, Number 5’, the Melbournian producer was preceded by his three-piece rhythm section. They silenced the cheery buzz and, in a haze of velvety lighting, slowly launched the instrumental ‘North.’ Building the atmosphere and anticipation, they worked up to a wall of sound before Chet Faker wandered on.
After a disappointingly short set at Metric Promotion’s recent mini-festival Circo (where he deigned not to play smash hit ‘I’m Into You’), it was a delight to hear him work through his 70s flavoured 2012 EP Thinking in Textures. Ever Fakerlicious (so delicious), his voice, supported by his fusion of jazz, soul and electronica, caressed the sold out venue.
He began with his cover of Burial’s ‘Archangel’, and meandered on to ‘Everything I Wanted’ and ‘Terms and Conditions.’ ‘Solo Sunrise’ transitioned into ‘Melt’ (minus the vocals of featured artist Kilo Kish), his first new track in some time. Though not his greatest hit, it features whole lotta heart and makes one eager for his debut album. After ‘Love and Feeling,’ he performed Triple J favourite ‘I’m Into You.’ The 45 minute long swoon ended when he abruptly left the stage. Enticed back on by the crowd’s cheers, he concluded the night with his cover of American R‘n’B group Blackstreet’s 1996 classic ‘No Diggity.’ The song that launched him into the public consciousness, his rendition is certainly better than that offered by Anna Kendrick in Pitch Perfect (there is no higher compliment). The live incarnation of this hit was extended to allow for the unfailing trio about him to enjoy exciting solos.
Disappointingly, he did not perform ‘Left Alone’, his popular collaboration with wunderkind producer Flume, nor his collab with local legend Ta-Ku ‘Mahal’.
Someone asked me the other day what was the point of music reviews (other than to validate getting free tickets). I guess it’s to introduce people to artists they don’t know, or to inform fans who missed out whether the artist is worth paying to see. Chet Faker is seriously good, but I’d only bother going to see him live if you want the novelty of being in the presence of a real talent. You don’t go to a Chet Faker concert to cut loose, and it certainly isn’t for his stage presence (he spent the set hunched over a keyboard, crooning at no one). His EP contains the perfect version of his music, and whilst his live performance is good, the clarity and purity of his studio sound is superior. If you’re chasing the best experience of his music, shack up at home in your comfy pjs, with a bottle of red and set your pleasure boat adrift in his mellow, magical voice.