AKA: WALLY DE BACKER
SOUND: INDIE ROCK
Ascending to the stage, the man behind Gotye, Wally de Backer, and his band are welcomed to the Sydney Entertainment Centre to rapturous applause. In a year that's been plentiful with performances, this one would be special - the final for 2012, with the team he's spent much of the year with. The darkness is punctuated with the funky opening baselines of 'The Only Way', giving way to Gotye going wild on his drum kit.
The eeriness of 'What Do You Want?' resonates throughout this enormous room, culminating in a finale akin to a street party on stage. 'Easy Way Out' gets a real rock transformation with an incendiary electric guitar, while 'Smoke and Mirrors' sees the band members clicking their fingers along with Wally, who takes the opportunity to really stretch his vocal abilities for the first time of the evening.
The performance of 'Thanks For Your Time' is genuinely awe-inducing - to see the musicians line up across the stage to bring together this complex, layered song as a whole is quite spectacular.
Wally welcomes his own Cotillion and Lowrey organs on to the stage, accompanied by the ever-friendly Barry Morgan. There's two certainties: they're about to perform 'State of the Art', and have a lot of fun doing it. After Barry's audience warm-up routine, he and Wally man the organs for an unusual duet.
In a distinct change of pace, Gotye moves on to 'Don't Worry, We'll Be Watching You', and a rare gem, 'Dig Your Own Hole'. Being the first time I've heard this song performed live, it's brought to life with layers of new sounds. An audience favourite, 'Eyes Wide Open' combines earthly instruments with Wally's unique voice, with drums blazing behind him.
Despite the massive crowd, Gotye successfully navigates to his more subdued work. 'Night Drive' features bass guitar and Wally's softened vocals, and 'Giving Me A Chance' sees the crowd fixated on the singer's mesmerising voice. Finishing off the self-proclaimed "quiet songs", the majority of the room falls to a hush for 'Bronte' - the audience under Wally's spell.
"So does this sound familiar?" Wally asks. Introducing a bass beat, the crowd bursts into a wild cheer as the opening notes for 'Somebody That I Used To Know' resound throughout the room. The crowd knows every word, and sings along euphorically - but the ultimate accompaniment comes from Gotye's female counterpart, Bertie Blackman, who kills the chorus wearing a catsuit (think less Catwoman and more polyester).
Wally delivers everything a live performance should be - beautiful, vibrant, and penetratingly true.
Wally encourages some audience participation with the harmony for 'Save Me', a song he delivers with emotional sincerity. Finishing with 'Heart's a Mess', Wally delivers everything a live performance should be - beautiful, vibrant, and a penetratingly true rendition of the song.
Returning to a thundering applause, Wally and his band break into the instrumental 'Seven Hours With A Backseat Driver', a vibrant cacauphany of sound. For a change of pace, Gotye brings a touch of soul to the stage with 'I Feel Better', accompanied by uplifting horns.
It's hard surpass a finale with Gotye, and this one proves no different. Bringing the night to a conclusion with the favourite 'Learnalilgivinanlovin', the stage looks more like a wild party than a performance by the close of the number. It's hard not to leave with a smile on your face after a conclusion like that.
Gotye's music is so perfect for a live performance - it gives him and the artists working with him the freedom to improvise and customise to the moment. It doesn't feel like Wally's there for the audience's entertainment - at times, it's more like he's jamming on stage with his friends. While it's inevitable that this Entertainment Centre gig wasn't as personal as his previous Sydney performance at the Opera House, he's undoubtedly learned how to control a crowd of thousands with the strength of his voice.
Like it? Follow it. Make sure you hit the Follow button at the top of this page (you'll need to sign in or join first) to keep up to date with Gotye, along with all the latest news on tours and music clips.