Live Review: Porter Robinson @ Hordern Pavilion, Sydney

11 November 2023 | 9:19 am | Peyton Kilgower

Porter Robinson: “This is the final 'Nurture' show, so I want to fill it with things I want to play.” And so, he did.

Porter Robinson

Porter Robinson (Source: Supplied)

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Opening act jamesjamesjames kicked the night into gear by performing a mix of Y2K techno whilst a run-through of some real-life Tokyo Drift played in the background. A more casual, house-party-style start to the night, the Brisbane-based American made sure the vibes were high for the hours ahead. As the cars slid on the screen, his finale remix of Speed Drive saw everybody getting their Barbie (or Ken) on before leaving the stage as casually as he entered it.  

No YouTube video or album listening party could have prepared everyone for what they were about to experience next. As the darkened concert hall filled with streaks of white light, the subtle keys of Porter Robinson’s Lifelike begin to play…. and the anticipating crowd of the Hordern Pavilion erupts in excitement. 

The album, created during his struggles with mental illness and writer’s block, is the ultimate guide to finding the beauty in everything, and having such a simplistic introduction was the perfect way to start the story. Though this was only the beginning of the 2-hour journey Porter would take us through. 

Though his shows usually follow the same lineup, as a final salute to Nurture, Porter decided to mix things around. The crowd was roller coastered through every emotion and beat. From Language and The Thrill to Full Moon Lullaby and Look at the Sky, Porter told the story in his own words, live blending the songs and visuals together in a way that no studio recording ever could. 

The crowd was in awe when he began to sing Everything Goes On, a song which he revealed as the one he used to propose to his now wife Rika Mikuriya, who was in the audience for his final Nurture show. (Every person in there definitely left with even higher expectations for their own love story!)

When you talk to someone about their favourite part of a Porter Robinson concert, the answer will almost always be the visuals. From child-like scribbles to full-blown 3D renders, the screen behind him plays as much a part of the story as the music. Even memed about in his own set with viral YouTube searches of “Porter Robinson Worlds tour visuals” scattering the screen during his set, the amount of effort put into the background of the whole show never goes underappreciated. 

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Porter took us on a journey, not just from the Nurture album but his entire career. Throwing in classics like Shelter and Divinity to remind everyone where he started and found himself, as well as provide key nostalgia for any longer-term listeners in the crowd, we were even privileged enough to get a glimpse of his work with Po-uta, an American VOCALOID, perhaps as a tease for what’s yet to come?

“I didn’t want to bring my negative vibes”, he kept saying after letting it slip early on that this was his final Nurture show. Though you could tell he was saddened by the thought of leaving this part of him behind, Porter still brought everything he had to the Pavilion, and the crowd loved him for it. Taking only brief pauses in between to graciously thank the audience or to announce that there was absolutely no way he was doing a ‘shoey’, he left his music to do all the work keeping the crowd intrigued at every stage of the night. 

As the hall returned to darkness once again, the crowd began to chant, “One more song”, not ready for it to be all over. And so, he returned to play his final, not one…. but TWO songs on this tour. As the lighthouse lit up the audience, he ended his story with Goodbye To A World. But this wasn’t goodbye, simply a “see you next time”; even Porter knows his story hasn’t finished being told quite yet.

What music will we see from Porter Robinson next? No one ever really knows. But if the journey is anything like tonight’s show, we can’t wait to be taken on it.