Monday, December 7, 2009


Thursday, March 20, 2008 
The Forum

Quite what has happened to Damn Arms in the course of the last two years is a mystery, but surely it wasn’t meant to include this. Dressed up like Death From Above 1979 and DJing some shonky disco-house that becomes offensive by the sheer inoffensiveness of it is all miles from the blinding white energy they formed when at their peak those two long years back. To add insult to injury, they also play some out-of-time electronic percussion over the tunes, which only serves to remind you just how good Optimo are. No one dances.

Thank God (or Eno) then, for M83. Already justly legendary in certain circles, Anthony Gonzales and co (the backing band formed two weeks ago and, due to an airport malfunction in Singapore, are tonight relying on unfamiliar equipment) set about the arduous task of playing highlights from their as-yet-unreleased album Saturdays = Youth. Adorned in a Red Eye Records t-shirt, Gonzales opens with the epic Moonchild, a highlight from 2005’s Before The Dawn Heals Us album, which, along with another single from that album Don’t Save Us From The Flames, gives us the set’s highlights. Newer, more-song based material is mainly mid-paced and prominently features Kate Bush look-and-sound-alike Korg player Morgan Kibby and, though good and blessed with fantastic melodies, is more spacey, soft-textured and not of the intergalactic panoramic nature of earlier work so doesn’t work quite as well live. The drums are big and sparse in a way that hasn’t been heard since 1987 and flesh out the songs in a brilliant way. If only the kids in the audience would stop talking and shouting "I’m at a gig! No...a GIG!" into their phones. Thankfully M83 expect to be back with their own gear and own shows toward the end of the year.

Bringers of M83 from France to Australia and ’sold out’ signs to the windows of The Forum are local boys made good the Juggs, and holy crap are they on form tonight. If having a banner of a giant eagle bearing your name covering the whole back of the stage means you’ve made it (and it sure as hell looks like it does), they’ve made it. Opening with Road To Recovery, the crowd are instantly madly happy, crowd-surfing and bouncing wildly with nary a band t-shirt in sight and a bunch of first-home buyers in neat casual up the back; it’s a ringing endorsement for the hard slog of gigs it’s taken them to get here. With a literally blinding light show and a set that is basically Dystopia with some middling new songs, these guys can certainly put on a show, though their songwriting is still lagging behind the production, no one cares. Crowd insanity levels peak about five seconds into Tombstone while Shadows and Into The Galaxy send people into ’Elvis has just left the building’ territory. You can see why Justice have been so taken with them and why they might be feeling 2008 will be their best year yet.

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