Gang of Youths @ Forum Melbourne 7/11/2018

It was the fifth show of eight in Melbourne alone and another sold out gig, but if David Le’aupepe found himself fatigued he didn’t show it. Even damaged vocal chords couldn’t stop him from holding his Melbourne audience in the palm of his hand, captivating them, entertaining them and then sending them on their way like a proud father watching his toddler go to school for the first time.

You get the feeling that Gang of Youths are going to be something special and that’s all down to their lead singer. From first time he struts on to the stage, shrouded in purple fog, to the final bend in his palm as he waves goodbye to his audience, the night is his. 

And it certainly featured some high emotion as well as Le’aupepe’s mother was in the audience, just shortly after his father and her husband’s death. And while The Heart is a Muscle sounds like a song about love, it can be a song about anything really, and it was dedicated to Le’aupepe recently passed father in an extremely touching moment.

Some bands seem uneasy when tasked with playing to a paying audience and their attempts at small talk come across as stilted. Not Gang of Youths, or more specially Le’aupepe. The singer launches from one rambling monologue to the next, but always drags the audience along with him for the ride and it feels like the most natural thing in the world.

One moment painfully vulnerable and self-aware, the next artfully self-confident and sliding across his piano like it was the hood of Whitesnake’s car – the frontman makes the show and the show makes him.

This is a band who only really burst into prominence thanks to their second album, Go Farther In Lightness, and this was a show that celebrated that. Apart from Magnolia, every song on the setlist was from that record and their big choruses seem purpose built for the live arena.

Melbourne Cup day might have just passed but for those who like a flutter would do worse than put money on Gang of Youths to continue their relentlessly successful march across Australia and beyond.