You Am I, Hi-Fi Daily Double tour @ the Forum, Melbourne 7/7/13
Lauren Duiker took some incredible shots of the show.
“Hey, can I get a Heineken please?”
“Yup. Sure you don’t want to try a Brew Am–”
“Oh, yeah. One of those, thanks.”
So began a distinctly Australian night at Melbourne’s Forum Theatre Sunday 7 July. With a bloody big Brew Am I in hand I stood amid a throng of excited thirty-somethings whom I suspected knew something I didn’t. It turns out they did. You Am I caught me unawares, their show a supreme initiation into a cult celebrating frothy-dinking nostalgia.
Anyone who’s heard albums Hi-Fi Way and Hourly, Daily knows about the kind of power they have for Aussies. The power is in an authentic sense of cultural understanding, of camaraderie, a recall of the best and worst times. Tim Rogers has been lauded as a paragon of our country’s middle-class suburban imagery and so it’s only logical that this knowledge and experience-first enshrined within vinyl almost twenty years ago- translates into an incredible live experience.
This was of course a show as part of You Am I’s Hi-Fi Daily Double tour, so we’d be hearing both albums, track-by-track, back to front. Hourly, Daily was tackled first, and tackled superbly.
Tim Rogers moseys onstage. He gives a fleeting peace gesture to the crowd, is handed a guitar from his tech. A cellist readies herself to his back left. Projected above them is the solitary image of an electricity pole, the kind you’d see on any street in any suburb down under. He begins in a dim spotlight, every bit the wayward, jaded bloke his songs suggest he is. But the whiskey-sour tear in his voice, his yearning, wow. You cannot fake the kind of ache he lays down. He strums a perfectly mastered acoustic six-string and folks in the crowd react to the sense-memory brought up by the very tone. ‘Hourly, Daily’ finishes and suddenly I find myself at the bottom of my bottle. A curious occurrence, that.
Hourly, Daily existed prior to lead guitarist Davey Lane’s arrival and so the first part of the set continues with him mostly sidelined. He’s great, no doubt, but tunes like ‘Mr. Milk’ and ‘Soldiers’ work well played by the original line-up. By the ‘Someone Else’s Home’ mark, in the latter stages of the record, the sweaty veterans have already delivered a show well worth concluding. Still, there was Hi-Fi Way, and with it, the best to come.
Lane is brought back in full force during the second half (and the second album). Rogers has swapped the costume-drama-ascot regalia of the last half with some shiny pants and a comparatively modest striped number, and they’re all ready to go. It’s during Hi-Fi Way that the boys pull out the high-octane stuff. It’s also the period during which Rogers is at his most theatrical, likening himself to a creepy uncle. He discusses panties and cucumbers with the crowd, the highlight next to such quips made earlier as ‘you guys are dancing like a bunch of fuckin’ sloths.’ So he’s a character, a fun guy, but he and his ilk know the business too.
‘Ain’t Gone And Open’, ‘Purple Sneakers’, and ‘Pizza Guy’, to be frank, went off chops. Lane plies his trade throughout these numbers as though the material was his own, his riffs giving Rogers’ double strength. The two are helped by the crucial rhythmic backbone of bassist Andy Kent and drummer Rusty Hopkinson, the trusty duo through which You Am I’s elaborate live sound is achieved. They don’t falter in their duties, even as a lengthy encore gives way to an amped rendition of The Who’s ‘Young Man Blues’. ‘Berlin Chair’, the band’s biggest track, marks an obligatory and dutiful finish.
I approached You Am I’s show as an observer, merely looking in on the sub-culture created by fans affected by Rogers’ work. It took about three songs for the experience to consume me. The sheer relatability and authenticity inherent in the material may have historically only attracted Australians, but as a part of the aging faithful still attending in support I can honestly say it’s one of the best niches to be a part of. The boys aren’t spring chickens but they gave us a show of brute strength, crazed yakka and unparalleled value; the kind of show I submit only Aussies can consistently give.