Despite a number of lukewarm reviews of their newest album, The Dandy Warhols brought their Distorted tour to Melbourne’s iconic Palais Theatre and played an almost sold out show. There is something electrifying about seeing some bands play live, and The Dandy Warhols really do hit their stride on stage.
From the first notes of ‘Be-In’ we just knew that this was going to be more…much more than a run of the mill experience. After twenty-two years and thousands of shows, their live sound is honed but not manufactured; experienced but not tired.
Courtney Taylor-Taylor works the crowd with the ease of the consummate professional but is laid-back in true stoner style. The effort seems almost effortless, though this aspect alone brings home the fact that if they weren’t great musicians and performers, they’d be extinct way before now and a tonne of hard work has gone into making the band sound so damn good.
Fans are well acquainted with Taylor-Taylor’s ‘60s style vocal sound, Zia McCabe’s magic on keyboards, key bass and percussion, Peter Halstrom’s retro sounding chords on guitar and Brent De Boer’s effervescent drumming. Together they make music that is unique, instantly recognisable and danceable.
The only disappointments came in the form of the Palais sound and lighting because it was almost impossible to hear Taylor-Taylor’s vocals – they just didn’t get the balance between the instrumentation and voice right, and the lighting (particularly during the first song) was weirdly dark. Some may also have been peeved that Taylor-Taylor’s solo performance of ‘Holiday’ was sung almost entirely by the crowd. Perhaps it was a buzz for him to know we knew the words, or maybe he’s just totally sick and tired of performing this staple, but we didn’t really want to hear Joe Citizen’s out-of-tune rendition of this crowd favourite.
Despite the glitches, the rest was pure entertainment. The highlight could well have been ‘We Used To Be Friends’ or ‘Bohemian Like You’, but the newer songs from Distorted got a good run and a better reception than the naysayers would have expected, especially ‘You Are Killing Me’.
The Dandy Warhols have never been a band to do what anyone expects them to do. Reviewers say that their new music isn’t made of stuff that will make any song stand out and become a classic. Well, from what we saw at the Palais, the reviewers are wrong. Just like the band, which sets trends and doesn’t follow them, The Warhol’s fans are less predictable than you might think. These days a classic is something that lasts a tad longer than a hipster’s turmeric latte, and if the response to this gig is anything to go by, The Dandy Warhols aren’t going to lose fans any time soon. This show was memorable for all the right reasons.