N*E*R*D, Boys Noize, Chromeo & Tine Tempah @ The Hordern Pavilion, Sydney (07/01/2011)
Wed 19th Jan, 2011 Event Reviews 360 viewsin
All right, I’ll be honest. I totally missed Tine Tempah. There was this delicious dinner…someone forgot their shoes…and all of a sudden I’m just making it for Chromeo. The ‘80s synth-pop revival is getting pretty tired in my book, so I’m not a massive fan of these skinny jeaned hipsters. But to their credit the sound was powerful (though could have been cleaner) and their performance engaging. With lights strobing manically across an already chockers Hordern, it was quite an impressive start to my night.
Unusually punctual, Boys Noize hit the decks at ten thirty, catching many off guard in the never-ending drinks line. If he was meant to be a warm-up act, he quickly over-heated and exploded, torching everyone with sharp, jagged, broken machine debris which turned out to actually be music (though your grandparents may not agree). To appropriate Pendulum, Boys Noize really can feel like the-sonic-recreation-of-the-end-of-the-world. Perhaps catering to a less EDM-obsessed N.E.R.D crowd, he crashed through a stack of remixes of well-known tracks, like N.E.R.D’s Hot and Fun, AC/DC’s Highway To Hell and MJ’s Billie Jean.
There’s no question he can work the crowd into a frenzy, but as wild and heavy as he is, I feel that Boys Noize is a bit of a one-trick pony, and could maybe put some more time during his sets into building something magic before inevitably smashing it down. There are many ways to win your audience. Nonetheless, it was a thoroughly enjoyable set, finished off with everyone’s old favourite My Moon My Man (say it ten times, fast, I dares ya!)
My companion for the night happened to be a rabid and raving Pharrell fan, so as soon as Boys Noize finished I was dragged through every crack and crevice in the crowd as she wormed her way to the front. Yes, it was we who stood in front of you. I’m really sorry (kind of sorry).
January 7th, 2011
The headliners blasted into action with I Wanna Jam, off the new album, from the outset proving N.E.R.D to be more than just a charismatic frontman, but an incredibly tight and powerful band. The early part of the set was dominated by the new album, which translated well into the live setting (perhaps better than it sits in a CD player). Pharrell was his usual animated and suggestive-come-seductive self, nonchalantly lifting the corner of his jumper during the particularly deep grooves of Make You Feel Good and setting off a volley of hopeful squeals that were to become a fixture of the night.
The band absolutely dominated the stage in She Wants To Move but it was nothing to the energy of the crowd throughout the Hordern. I’ve never seen so many girls moshing! Just when everyone was about to collapse Pharrell decided to “totally flip it right now,” heading into more soulful territory with God Bless Us All, because “you know the Aussies – they luurrv black music”.
We may love it but we sure can’t dance to it. Pharrel’s fellow MC Shay Haley had a rare moment of lucidity, pausing his ape-like dancing (which I can best describe as ‘the drunk conductor’) to encourage the audience to “throw your head now!” But nobody quite ‘threw’ it at the right time and everyone felt a bit awkward. So white.
The “final track” was one of N.E.R.D’s earliest and best. As one raving unit we screeched, “Can’t be me, I’m a rock star!” They finished with a bang but of course didn’t really finish, returning on stage for Love Dance, prefacing it with an amusing little oration. Pharrell waxed lyrical about life and imagination, demanded crowd surfing and promised we would not be kicked out, as we were “protected by the shield of N.E.R.D.”
Finally, triumphantly, Pharrell proclaimed “N.E.R.D makes music for the progressive-minded people!” He’s so right. If “all the girls standing in a line for the bathroom” isn’t progressive I don’t know what is. It was a night of great music and high energy performances; everyone left buzzing, heading their separate ways to rhyme atop cop cars as they saw fit.