Sneaky Sound System @ Enmore Theatre, Sydney (29/08/08)
Mon 1st Sep, 2008 Event Reviewsin
Sneaky Sound System wasted no time in touring their second album 2, performing to sell-out audiences along the east coast in August. With the album’s release just a matter of weeks before the tour, fans had little time to familiarise themselves with the new tracks and it made me wonder if the shows would be affected as a result. Both shows at the Enmore Theatre sold out in advance, so methinks not!
As the show began, our attention was drawn to the always-flamboyant MC Double D (Daimon Downey), who entered the stage in a white dinner suit, glass of rosé in hand. Double D and Black Angus (Angus McDonald) famously began Sneaky Sound System with their regular nights at Hugos, Sneaky Sunday. The story goes that they heard Connie singing in Hyde Park and the band was complete. However, trawling through their fan comments, some say this is a romantic myth; their managers set them up. Whatever the case, they – with the addition of Peter Dolso (guitar), Donnie Sloan (bass), and Felix Bloxsom (drums) – are together now, they are on tour, and they are fabulous.
The tour took the band to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane before they return to the UK for a sell out show in London. Sitting at #1 on the ARIA charts, 2 is promising the kind of success reminiscent of their first album. Their self-titled debut launched them as superstars, collecting an impressive list of awards and accolades. They picked up two ARIAS – Best Dance Release and Breakthrough Artist Album – were nominated for five more, won an MTV Australia Video Music Award and even a Nickelodeon Australian Kids’ Choice Award. This surely highlights their widespread popularity regardless of age or genre.
2 was produced by Black Angus and Donnie Sloan, and it’s once again released on their own label Whack. It was mixed in London by ‘Spike’ Stent and Paul PDub Walton, the latter famed for his work with Madonna, Björk, Massive Attack and Gwen Stefani. They’ve recently signed an international record deal, and they’re reported to be receiving airplay on UK radio. 2 builds on the successful formula of their first album, with familiar and catchy electro-pop the order of the day. Hearing the songs for the first time at the concert, my companion commented ‘it’s the same, but different. Like their album cover’. The new album shows the maturity of the band’s time together, as well as the influence of their collaborators.
Back to the show, beautiful Connie – with her voice as big as her hair – stood to stage left in a black dress and jacket decked with gold coins. They began with a little known song from the new album, followed by their first hit, Hip Hip Hooray, setting the mood for the night: a blend of their two albums. I saw them perform twice last year – at the Smirnoff Secret Party and at Harbour Party on NYE. I expected something similar, remixed versions of their hits and a large club-like experience. Laser lights and all that jazz. However, the Enmore show was more like a concert. Sneaky Sound System has penetrated into the mainstream, and this was obvious looking at their fans who weren’t the typical clubbing types, just normal everyday people.
They replicated their songs live perfect, with Connie’s voice flawless and Daimon – who seemed to have little to contribute musically for many songs – liaising with the crowd. While Connie sang and the band members played, he took photos of himself with the front row fans, threw towels into the audience, and at one stage actually crossed the barrier and joined them… in the audience. He added a good atmosphere to the party, although it did seem to lack synergy with Connie. He reminded me of Ana Matronic from the Scissor Sisters, whose primary role seems to be to work the crowd.
The crowd responded well to the old songs, jumping up and thrusting their hands in the air. I had to come to terms with the fact that this was more concert than club, which is fair enough given their status in the Australian music scene and the fact that this was an album tour. The most recognisable song from their new album was the single Kansas City, which was released in July and currently sits at #16 on the charts. 2 will no doubt produce many singles, and only time will reveal how many more records they can break with their high calibre of tunes. Black Angus told the Sydney Morning Herald, “We wanted every song to count… And if it didn’t count, it didn’t get through. It’s been very difficult choosing the singles, to be honest.” The new album has pleased reviewers, with SMH describing it as “40 minutes of music that makes you want to move”. It’s words that will no doubt allow the band to exhale in relief.
The album is good and so was the concert was good, but for me the encore was the highlight as the room darkened, the bass was turned up, and finally I got the beloved remixes I’d been craving. The gave us three tunes, including I Love It mixed with You’re Hot; enabling Connie and Daimon to combine, rather than do their own thing like the rest of the concert. Sneaky Sound System will never disappoint, but I do hope they keep their performances to the more intimate venues and continue with club-like shows too. With their heart in dance, it’ll ensure they keep their roots firmly planted.