Gig Review: Phoenix | Melbourne | 26.2.18

Saturday, March 3, 2018
(Photo by Greg Holland) 

Phoenix, as Google defines, is “a unique bird that lived for five or six centuries in the Arabian Desert”. Or otherwise known in human form as an indie pop band consisting of four long-limbed cool cats originating from Versailles, France.

And what a vibrant night of colour they were! As a previous somewhat subpar follower of the band, this warm Monday evening at The Forum exceeded expectations.

“Who’s supporting?” the mouths of the mosh pit mutter.

For entree, one-man Aussie artist Cleopold kick-starts the theatre’s air with telephonic sound, leaving several in a Zen state of contemplation. Sitting perched with keyboard, his menu of tunes were well-received by the crowd making Cleopold an ambient first taste to the palate for this soon electric night.

Ti Amo covers an amalgamation of English, Italian, Spanish and French, marking Phoenix’s sixth album to date, which they describe as, “its own weird thing…a fantasy of what the world could become”. And their “musical tour of fantasy Italy” in-turn reflects this, ringing themes of the band’s own childhood memories of innocence, pure joy and happiness. In typical gig fashion, the anticipation for the main act’s arrival is a mixed bag of jitters, a ticking heart and animalistic possession of one’s standing position.

Their crew set-up is diligently done. Streams of gorgeous floor lights, silver industrial rails beneath the heart-stamped bass drum and grand speakers. Upon first impression, you knew your ears would be in for a treat. At last, the lights hit a slate of black. And there and then the figures of Phoenix trek to the stage where their faces are greeted invasively by a sea of phones during their sparkling opener, 'J-Boy'. The short-lived moment an artist takes the mic is pure exhilaration, and with the case of Phoenix they likewise took the cake. Individually unique, the four of them synced together fittingly as one.

Triple J of ’09 faves, 'Lasso' and 'Lisztomania' were grappled in the first quarter of their 19-song set, before spotlighting sweetly juicy 'Tuttifruitti' and seductress 'Role Model'.  A rainbow-ic carnival is one way to describe Phoenix’s aesthetically pleasing set.

Mid-way, a mini avant-garde instrumental-focused interval occurs, where frontman Thomas Mars can be found sprawled ever so peacefully on the stage floor.

Clearly all fun and games so far and still the highlight(s) of the night is yet to occur!

With great spontaneity, Mars dives into the pit of fans, swarming to him like bees to a hive. The beat drops to 'If I Ever Feel Better'. Everyone goes ape. In atmospheric contrast, he progresses on stage with robotic 'Funky Squaredance', accentuated by a single beam of light where this stark outer space-vibe moment paints Mars like a lone alien descending from a UFO, planting his suede boots on Earth for the very first time.

A stripped back, intimate rendition of 'Goodbye Soleil' creates several heart-eyes before they reminisce on seeing Prince, following a unified chant to 'Fior Di Latte'.

“Surely this is time we say goodbye…?” oh how we naively wonder.

Concluding on a '1901' high, Mars commences a generous crowd surf where he is mauled by many willing palms wading him along his swim for an entertaining final send off.

“Thank you! Thank you!” the Frenchman graciously exclaims.

How warming it was. The physical air of space distancing performer and fan can be sterile, so implementing such prolonged tactile crowd interaction is a commendable move.

All in all, a crystal ball night of magic. Phoenix provided an exceptionally tasteful evening for Melbourne leaving spectators in awe with quality memories, a dopamine high and more than likely a free take home souvenir of Mar’s skin cells.

Written by Sally Hui (@Sally__hui)