Gang of Youths rock Sydney in epic homecoming show
GANG OF YOUTHS
Qudos Bank Arena, August 6
There’s a time and a place for everything and, for Gang of Youths on this tour, this was both.
Frontman Dave Le’aupepe grew up 15 minutes from this venue, he frequently mentions on this night, and used to come here for “f—ing boring” (his words) church conferences. The fact that his band is now performing in the vast arena he knew over the years as the Super Dome, Acer and then Allphones, in front of his closest family and alongside some of his closest friends, is far from lost on him.
But for all the emotion coursing through this show, and which gives undoubted poignancy to a tender trio of songs late in the set (Brothers, Our Time Is Short and Forbearance), what you’ll love most – what you always love most at a Gang of Youths gig – is the unashamed and infectious energy Le’aupepe brings.
He shimmies, he spins and, when the breakbeats that often turn up on the band’s album, Angel in Realtime, released this year, kick in, he throws himself around like a man possessed.
It’s not fair just to talk about Le’aupepe, though – something even he makes a point of acknowledging so the whole band get their fair share of the applause.
The most obvious contributors are diminutive keyboard player-turned-lead guitarist Jung Kim and violinist Tom Hobden, but the whole band is terrific, and that’s before we get to support act Gretta Ray. She not only doubles up as Gang of Youths’ backing vocalist throughout, but also leads the first half of The Deepest Sighs, the Frankest Shadows and gives it an enthralling feminine spin.
The band is audacious enough to lean heavily into the new album, even if the occasional tune from it might not be quite as good as they think it is, but that proves not to matter when they have fresh rock bangers such as In the Wake of Your Leave ready to join the exalted ranks of Let Me Down Easy – stopped and restarted twice on this night for comic effect to properly kickstart the crowd – as well as The Heart is a Muscle and Magnolia, and the impossibly joyful, cathartic rushes they provide.
If this show was an experience of huge significance to the band, at its best it was also one of near-biblical proportions to fans.