The night begins with a bewitching performance from perfectly chosen support Geoff O’Connor. Another artist in the process of losing the lazy labels that beset his brilliant earlier work, O’Connor seems more at ease than ever, inhabiting a strange world of sensuality, electronica and lightly breathed but deeply resonant paeans to the power of allusion. It’s heady stuff, and his subtlety is unfortunately swallowed up in the rapidly filling room.
If O’Connor encourages us to lean in a little closer, then Cut Off Your Hands blast us to the back of the venue with their ambition, copious guitar pedals and impassioned vocals. Sounding like a cross between BRMC and JAMC, COYH are massively successful at what they do, and its unfortunate the chatting couples and steadily drinking friends don’t notice the slicing riffs of guitarist Jonathan Lee and McCullough-esque pleas of singer Nick Johnston. Highlighting their recent release Hollow, songs like You Should Do Better, All it Takes and Hollowed Out are rallying cries that the combination of reverb and cavernous venue render indecipherable, though intentions are loud and clear.
Bathed in blue fluorescent tubes, dry ice and in front of a massive reproduction of their album cover’s exploding droplet, the quiet, amiable people of Architecture in Helsinki, metaphorically march on stage and scream ‘LET’S GO BACK TO 1984 FUCKERS!’ We gladly follow.
Using warm and intimate sounds as they’ve always done, the icy control and volume with which they deploy them is their greatest asset. The weightless pop of Moment Bends harks back to cultural references the crowd are largely (and in some cases thankfully) oblivious to. This means edgier singles like Hold Music, Escapee and That Beep render the crowd as noisily engaged as one of the nearby footy games, even album tracks like Everything’s Blue and I Know Deep Down get mobiles-in-the-air and dudes-on-shoulders responses.
Occasional synchronised dance moves, clumsy RAWK!! guitar solos and introductions like ‘this song is about living here in a kind of random way…maybe you can pick up on the vibe,’ show that their sense of humour is more pronounced than ever. Twice mentioning how humbling it is to be playing The Forum, AiH never have to try to win us over. Closing with Heart it Races, Do the Whirlwind an unrecognised It’5 and blistering Contact High, the show is a testament to how, over a period of 10 years, you can shift not only your sound but also your fanbase whilst remaining totally true to your ethos; from inner Melbourne concerns and crowds, to outer if you like.