LIVE // Gotye // 29.2.2012 // Shepherds Bush Empire, London
So this year was a leap year, which meant we all got an extra day to enjoy. So the question asked myself is what I can do to cherish this leap year day (29th February) as they don’t come around very often. I decided what better way to spend this extra day and see the band that everyone is talking about; GOTYE.
I found myself at London’s Shepard’s Bush Empire, a building I’ve passed many a time on the bus and never really paid much attention to. But this venue isn't called one of London’s best for no reason. With delicate plasterwork, grand tiers of seating and ornate gold leaf what better place to see any band, especially GOTYE.
The audience were defiantly being spoiled tonight what with the beautiful venue and the sublime warm up act Kimbra. This young lady appears as the female vocal in GOTYE’s song “somebody I used to know”. Kimbra’s talent is refreshing, her incredible voice crystal clear and unaltered. Her single' Settle Down' is a must listen.
As the venue began to fill with the chatter of excited GOTYE fans the noise began to swell and resonate in this intimate venue. I had noticed on my way in a particularly large sign saying “tonight’s performance is completely sold out and no tickets will be available” and now I could see why the sign was necessary. Every seat was taken, the standing area was crammed and people were even stood in the aisles all wanting to get a good view for GOTYE’s performance.
Suddenly the lights darkened, the stage lit up with an eerie blue light and then entered GOTYE, who received a huge applause. In this case playing with a full band really means playing with a full band. The stage was packed full of instruments various guitars, drums, keyboards, synths and some other equipment which I have never seen before including the band’s custom “Maclafran.” (A glockenspiel & xylophone hybrid)
GOTYE opened with the song ‘Eyes Wide Open’, one of my favourites off the album ‘Making Mirrors.’ This opening song was truly magical with an atmospheric background visual showing the effects the global warming. With an anthemic chorus “with our eyes wide open we walk” the first song really set the magical tone for the rest of the night. This song is a real call to arms song and the raw passion within the track is shown thrown the drum emphasis on certain lines and the changes in pitch and tone in the vocal. In the reprise a single beam of light focused upon front man Wally De Backer and the other layers of the track dropped out to focus upon Wally’s beautiful spine tingling voice.
Another stand out track in the performance was ‘Smoke and Mirrors’. The song starts with a building series of drums and keyboards that has an air of French Jazz about it. Wally’s vocal is slightly more robust in this track and reflects the lyrics which tell the story of finding out how someone close to you isn’t all they seem. The story is told through the emotion of Wally’s voice which never strains or distorts and always remains enchanting. This song shows the elaborate building nature of GOTYE’s songs perfectly, with a constant base beat with other layers that fade in and out. To create this elaborate sound all members of the bands often find themselves doing at least 2 things at once such as playing drums and using a series of synth machines. The song ended on a complete high with an amazing drum solo involving all the members of the band. Huge teamwork and concentration was involved to get a coordinated sound and for me this section of the gig really showed the phenomenal talent that these guys have.
‘State of the Art’ was also a personal highlight from the set. The background imagery was taken from the short film GOYTE have made for the album ‘Making Mirrors’ and features an evil music machine causing havoc in the world. This track really stood out for me as it was so different, it’s much more electronic and space age sounding with all sorts of samples being used. The vocal is the biggest change as it is altered to become deep, bassey and robotic (much like digitalised Kayne West) and is used to reflect the sinister tone of the song. I think I liked this track so much as it was such a huge contrast to the rest of the set and really demonstrates how adaptable GOTYE are.
And of course GOTYE played “Somebody that I used to know” which was met with a huge roar by the crowd. At the time of the gig this single was number one in the UK charts and most of the audience sang along to every word – you could tell this was a very touching moment for the band. You can see why this track has been so massive with a catchy chorus and glockenspiel sound; it’s hard not to love it. There was much confusion in the crowd to where Kimbra was and then all of sudden she appeared in a beautiful 50’s style prom dress and blew the crowd away with her delicate voice. Wally and Kimbra continued the rest of the song together and acted out the raw emotion of a break up in their performance.
The last track I wish to focus upon is ‘Bronte’, which didn’t really stand out on the album. This track was played towards the end of the set and the crowd mellowed to almost silence to appreciate the nature of the track. The lyrics of the song are brought to life by the touching story of a young girl moving from the country to the city, depicted in the background visual. It was a truly special moment to experience a huge crowd of people memorised by Wally’s clear, delicate voice in the grand space.
I could continue to write about how much I enjoyed the gig and describe each track in detail as they were all extremely memorable and each one special in its own right. So my advice to you is to make sure you see GOTYE as soon as humanly possible. And for anyone who thinks that they will just be a one hit wonder, you’re definitely wrong. These lads are truly talented; the popular music scene needs to be exposed to more bands of this high calibre.