The minute you heard Dave Le’aupepe’s pipes an instant ethereal grace permeated Enmore Theatre, the limited pockets of air available carried the strong-hold synth in track Restraint & Release while a Tim Burton-inspired stage show went on in the background.
The nostalgia reeked for Gang Of Youths, playing in their homeland of Sydney’s inner west — yes they relayed that with a heavy heart — but they fucking wanted to be there: physically, spiritually and all consumingly.
When anarchist anthem Poison Drum dropped the band became silhouettes, gallivanting around as bold shapes that nullified any notion of there even being a frontman.
Enmore Theatre emulated a time machine as it took its travellers back to circa 1986 as a room full of lighters oscillated along with masterpiece track Knuckles White Dry. The raspiness in Le’aupepe’s voice was tethered between trauma and triumph. Then with no ease of transition Benevolence Riots had Le’aupepe play the role of Spirit Master while his followers clapped in a trance-like corroboree.
However, it was crowd favourite Magnolia with its energetic up-tempo sound that fleetingly snapped revellers out the state of hypnosis in the room as the packed-out venue tried to match the energy of the band: belting it back and jumping around awkwardly to the disjointed ballad.
But yet again the energy took a stark turn into an ethereal place, with the whimsical tones of Kansas slowly and teasingly winding the set down. Of all songs to ‘end’ with Vital Signs made the most sense, with its fitting psychedelic narrative. This gig was a showcase of range, nuance, and conflicting inspirations — and proof that Gang Of Youths won’t be pigeonholed.
Photo credit: Peter Sharp
Hayley May Casey.