(Photograph - Kristy Smolcic)
Mark Ronson has a reputation built on a smorgasbord of hits stemming back to 2003, making him a household name. Therefore it was no surprise that the announcement of an Australian tour got people talking, and by talking I mean losing their shit. In the country for Splendor in the Grass, Ronson took his tour around the country for a stint of sideshows, hitting up Melbourne at the Margaret Court Arena.
As the arena started to fill Tkay Maizda took the stage to get the crowd warmed up. Pulling out her bests such as ‘Uh Huh’ and ‘Switch Lanes’, she left the crowd buzzing and in the mood to party.
Then it was Pond’s turn to take the reigns. With a very contrasting style to the headliner I was intrigued to see how the audience would respond to their performance. Despite this difference they were well received and by the end of their set very well loved. Treating the crowd to songs from all six albums, they created a psychedelic ambience with a vintage rock feel that took you back to the 70s. Nick Allbrook’s voice was on point with a Bowie-esque feel, particularly noticeable during ‘Don’t Look at the Sun or You’ll go Blind’. Surprisingly, arguably their biggest single, ‘Zond’, from their newest album was not included in the setlist. However, it did not seem to be missed with atmosphere picking up for ‘Elvis’ Rising Star’ and ‘Giant Tortoise’, filling the void.
Impatience was starting to grow in the arena, as the stage was set up for Mark Ronson’s production. Word was already out about the live show he was putting on, which included a long list of guest singers and a backing band, so nothing was unexpected but certainly anticipated. However despite the cameo-heavy set there was something lacking from the whole performance. With Ronson perched way up on his platform, leaving the stage for his guest stars who varied in success, he felt a little disconnected from the crowd as he twiddled his knobs and occasionally picked up a guitar.
There was no lack of talent, especially from front vocalist of Swedish band Miike Snow, Andrew Wyatt, who really stepped up to the plate and did a fine job in engaging with the audience and nailing Boy George’s spot in ‘Somebody to Love Me’. Kevin Parker’s ‘Daffodil’ was also a highlight of the night as the heavy onset of the song got people moving, which was a lot harder to achieve than you would expect at a pop producer’s show. The likes of Theophilus London and Daniel Merriweather were also appreciated, but it was unusual for Theophilus to throw his own song, ‘Tribe’ in the mix. Despite it being good, it was almost like a mini advertisement and not really needed.
The strong female voices shook things up a little bit with the peppering of Ella Thompson, impressing everyone with ‘Bang Bang Bang’, and Keyone Starr. Not surprisingly, ‘Valerie’ was the second biggest and second last song of the night and the only song that was not accompanied by a guest appearance as Ronson let Amy Winehouse’s original vocals do all the work. Although despite this rollercoaster of a set, it was always going to end on a high with ‘Uptown Funk’ whipping the crowd into frenzy as all the cameos and support acts took to the stage for a slightly uncomfortable group dance.
It wasn’t that the set was particularly bad, but with so many performers all putting their own original spin to it, it caused there to be a lack of continuity that prevented the crowd from completely swept away by it all.
Words by Jess Vaia