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Live Review: East 17, Harry K

19 June 2012 | 2:44 pm | Tyler McLoughlan

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A two hour DJ set kicks off East 17's triumphant Australian return in a low-key manner; rather than working the audience into a pre-show frenzy, Harry K silently progresses through the likes of Foster The People and Katy Perry whilst sporadically wandering side of stage to check his text messages. In front of the “decks” he adjusts his headphones every now and then and chews gum intensely to show that a real person is actually pushing play on Usher and Gym Class Heroes. Why East 17 didn't just whack on So Fresh: The Hits Of Winter and save themselves a couple of hundred bucks is a mystery – the amount of space left in the room for swinging cats suggests they could have done with the cash.

With a sound guy whose job consists of hitting the go button on backing tracks, the three remaining members of East 17 sure look smug rolling onto stage minus troublesome drug spruiker Brian Harvey – aka the one who could sing. The girls in the room thrust forward to be in panty-throwing distance of their '90s obsessions, who respond by opening with their biggest hit House Of Love. Immediately there is no escaping the idea that if one were to pop around the corner to Caxton Street, the karaoke night at Casablanca's would offer some eerily similar musical fare – except the singing backpackers are not likely to be whipping off stripper pants as John Hendy looks suspiciously close to doing throughout the set. Let It Rain has Tony Mortimer on bended knee, looking deep into the eyes of the front row ladies as they scrap on for the best camera angles. His vocal is continually drowned out by fiercely punctuated synth of the kind found during nail-biting scenarios of shows like Hot Seat, and he apparently has a cold. This makes Harvey's absence all the more evident, though right-hand man Terry Coldwell does well to fill in some of the more tuneful vocal melodies that were reserved for the singer who is rumored by Wikipedia to be releasing solo record High On Jesus this year. Do U Still?, Slow It Down and Steam all make the best of set list, whilst the high vocals of Stay seep out from the backing track. New song Friday Night is a reeking dog's breakfast of lads, booze and kebabs, and some dickbrain has signed them up for four more albums of the stuff. But hey, it's the '90s nostalgia circuit – if it's not heinous (at least in a 'so bad it's good' kinda way), it's just not bloody well worth bringing to Australia.