Live Review: Milky Chance @ The Croxton, Melbourne

5 February 2024 | 3:39 pm | Ellie Robinson

The German indie-rockers might be ‘Living In A Haze’, but their performance tonight was anything but murky.

Milky Chance

Milky Chance (Supplied)

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The Forum is one of Australia’s most prestigious venues: its towering theatre stage flanked by grandiose architecture, the blue-tinged roof that flickers with lights to mimic a starry night, and the dancefloor sprawling back to give the illusion of a much bigger space. It is, by all metrics, the perfect place to have Milky Chance perform in support of last year’s stellar Living In A Haze album. They performed the first Melbourne (Naarm) stop of their Australian tour there on Friday (February 2), but after tickets sold out to that gig in a flash, they opted to hold a second in a more intimate, down-to-earth setting: the 850-cap Croxton Bandroom.

From the moment the house lights dimmed – around 9:30pm on Saturday (February 3) – it was clear the vibe would be much more chill than last night’s theatrical soirée. The German indie-rockers – vocalist/guitarist Clemens Rehbein and bassist/percussionist Philipp Dausch, flanked by touring members Antonio Greger (guitar/bass/melodica) and Sebastian Schmidt (drums) – seemed more relaxed and played with a looser, more buoyant candour; they swapped smiles and in-jokes when they landed cool notes (and flubbed others) and their banter with the crowd felt way more natural. 

Rehbein especially shone with his crowd interaction, noting early in the set that he was excited to play a more lowkey show.

Nevertheless, Milky Chance still performed with the gravitas of a Platinum-selling pop act, rolling through their 20-song setlist with unparalleled dynamism and tightness. They played the same set as they have at all the other shows on this run, albeit with one key change to accomodate the shift in atmosphere: where they’d usually play Frequency Of Love (a deep cut from Living In A Haze), they instead delivered a mellow acoustic rendition of Scarlet Paintings (from 2019’s Mind The Moon). It was nothing short of beautiful, especially following a perfect pairing of acoustic-driven songs (Cocoon and Down By The River) just a few moments earlier.

Soon thereafter, the band took us on another vibe-shifting side-quest: a five-song cluster of breakup anthems, starting with Haze gem Better Off and a clubby, smoke-soaked cover of Gloria JonesTainted Love. Next they bled the first half of Fado – the only other inclusion from Mind The Moon – into a chunk of Culture Club’s Do You Really Want To Hurt Me (equally primed for the dancefloor), before easing us back into a summery mood with Don’t Let Me Down (the Jack Johnson-assisted standalone single they dropped in 2020). 

The tonal detour primed us well for the grand finale of Flashed Junk Mind and Stolen Dance, the latter of which was met with the night’s biggest cheers and loudest singalongs (as expected, given it's still their all-time biggest hit). A three-song encore also wrapped the night up brilliantly, with the dancey bass drop on Running – sandwiched between the stoney Colorado and jaunty Sweet Sun – really putting the Croxton’s sound system to the test. It was clear in that moment that as mid-sized venues go, it really is Naarm's best.

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All in all, the set ran for a little under 90 minutes and felt perfectly paced, masterfully riding the peaks and valleys that make Milky Chance’s catalogue so engrossing. There were soft and sweet moments of sunkissed indie-rock, belting wallops of dance-pop brilliance, and a few tasteful quips of rock’n’roll grit – and not a second felt mismatched or forced.

A few more songs from Mind The Moon would’ve gone down a treat, but all things considered, this set was pretty damn close to perfect.