Chart-topping Australian artist Gotye* and his band played an outstanding show at Merriweather Post Pavilion on Sunday, September 30th. They are in the midst of a world tour, and joining them for this leg were openers Jonti and Missy Higgins. Gotye and his group of super-talented multi-instrumentalists radiated enthusiasm, talent and boundless energy onstage. The weather may have been cold and drizzly, but their exuberant performance was enough to lift the audience up.
Most of you readers may have only heard Gotye’s number one hit “Somebody That I Used To Know”, and I will admit, I hadn’t heard much more than that myself before Sunday night. Back in April I caught part of Gotye’s impressive set at the Coachella Music & Arts festival, which was so packed the crowd was sprawled densely well beyond the borders of the tent he was performing in. What I did catch was super, and enough to know I wanted to see more. Sunday night Gotye and his band owned the stage, showcasing their talents on a host of instruments- organic and electronic, from lap-steel guitar to midi pads, synth-drums to two full drum-kits, and Gotye never seemed to stop moving the entire time.
They started out the night with the hypnotic, groovy “The Only Way” from Gotye’s 2006 album Drawing Blood, and it was instantly apparent that we the audience were in for an exciting ride. The band’s energy was high, Gotye especially- partway through the song running to one of the drum kits and having two-kit drum freak-out, ending the song full tilt. Most of the music was from Gotye’s most recent album Making Mirrors, and the energy level never really dropped for the entire night. In addition to the amazing musicianship of all the players, the audience was treated to beautiful, weird, trippy and even hilarious videos and visuals playing on a huge screen behind the band along with almost every song. The combination was a completely entertaining multimedia extravaganza.
Though it’s hard to pick high points out of a night so full of them, my favorites included “Easy Way Out”, with its particularly Peter Gabriel-esque vibe, and “Eyes Wide Open” which featured some sweet lap-steel styling. Also awesome was the amusing, reggae-vibed “State of the Art” which had Gotye singing through a vocoder in a robotic voice, and was accompanied by a funny/scary cartoon in the vein of “Little Shop of Horrors” with a deluxe electronic organ in place of Audrey II.
The non-stop energy and aural and visual bliss of the night made Gotye’s performance of his number one hit “Somebody That I Used To Know” not really the climax of the show, just another awesome moment among many. For the song, a duet, opener Missy Higgins joined him onstage singing the part originally performed by Kimbra on the recording. Next Gotye upped the ante with audience participation, teaching three pretty challenging vocal parts to the crowd, which they pulled off surprisingly well, for the song “Save Me.” The band ended their main set with the moody, down-tempo “Hearts A Mess.”
After a standing ovation from the pavilion Gotye and his band returned for a three-song encore that included an awesome instrumental song that was set to a trippy cartoon filled with scheming animals, and the super-upbeat love-fest that is “I Feel Better.” I couldn’t stop smiling the whole time. They ended the night with “Learnalilgivinanlovin”, which had the audience on their feet and dancing.
*Gotye, pronounced like the French “Gauthier” was born Wouter De Backer.