Fatboy Slim @The Palace Theatre, Melbourne (07/03/2012)
Tue 13th Mar, 2012 Event Reviews 192 viewsin
Anyone not excited by the prospect of seeing Fatboy Slim on his Future Music Festival tour needs to hold a finger to their carotid artery and check for a pulse. Norman Cook is one of the most enthusiastic performers I’ve ever seen, his trademark fist pump is legendary and adorable and he’s an expert at getting at audience fired up. So when the Brighton legend hit The Palace Theatre in Melbourne, it was definite cause for celebration.
Performing bare-foot and clad in his uniform of a Hawaiian shirt and cargo shorts, it’s clear there’s been no wardrobe makeover since I last saw him perform on Brighton Beach in 2002 – but the visual effects have certainly had an upgrade since the days of holding up notes written on the back of record covers. His audio-visual team have been busy putting together a kaleidoscope of images, perfectly synched with the music. I couldn’t contemplate closing my eyes and concentrating on the music for even a second, as I was terrified I’d miss out on a little salute to fellow DJs (hello Carl Cox!), references to his past (the lyrics of More of Everything for Everyone from his Freakpower days, which I think was lost on most of the audience) or full-frontal nudity (…not as attractive as it sounds).
A master of audience participation, he chose a wide range of tracks guaranteed to rouse a hearty sing-a-long, the most obvious of which was Star 69, the perfect excuse for drunken louts to sing “what the f%$!!” as loud as possibly without getting frogmarched from the premises by security – hence, an absolute hit. He got the audience totally on side by changing the lyrics of I’m Miami Bitch to “I’m in Australia Bitch” whilst the screen behind him displayed a map of Australia with a smiley face, strangely reminiscent of the Leyland Brothers logo. Cute, patriotic and ever so slightly tacky, examples like this give you an idea of how he’s endeared himself to audiences all over the world.
In a set that lasted just on 2 hours or so, one would expect a non-stop booty-shaking juggernaut, but there was a bit of a low spot between 10.30 and 11pm. The tunes moved into techno-trance territory, which you’d expect at something like a John Digweed show, but seemed strangely out of place at a Fatboy Slim gig. He lost the audience for a bit, but recovered from it with a Prodigy track – a fairly predictable way to get an audience back on side, but hey, whatever works. I personally was a bit disappointed that he didn’t make more use of his extensive back catalogue – I was anticipating a slice of Pizzaman or at least one Mighty Dub Katz tune, but it wasn’t to be. There were tiny hints of his past, such as the sample of Jack Van Impe’s sermon from Sex on The Streets, but not the tracks themselves.
Despite my frustrations, I couldn’t think of a better finale to Fatboy Slim’s set – the mash up of the Rolling Stones Can’t Get No Satisfaction and Funk Soul Brother with a looping Christopher Walken on the screen was almost worth the ticket price alone. Ending the night on a high with a charged crowd after a relatively short set is potentially fraught with danger, so whoever came up with the idea of playing the Blue Danube once Fatboy Slim had disappeared in a blaze of laser beams is a true genius. Watching everyone partner up and waltz out of the Palace is truly one of the most unique club experiences I’ve ever had!
If you ever get the opportunity to go to a Fat Boy Slim gig, please don’t pass it up – Q Magazine in the UK says he’s one of the top 50 performers you must see before you die, and I agree. I guarantee it will be one of the most fun nights out you’ll ever have, and you may even discover a fist-pumping, rump-shaking side of you you’d never normally dare to show in public.