SBTRKT gets down with Melbourne on a sweltering night.
As we roll into Forum Theatre, opening band Movement play a mash-up cover of Mario's Let Me Love You and Mario Winans' I Don’t Wanna Know.
The band manage to make two twee, R&B, top 40 hits from the naughties sound majestic and heartfelt. That’s no easy task. Movement seem like a very logical choice for SBTRKT opener, as both acts have a similarly heavy percussive sound with soulful vocals. Lead vocalist and keys man Lewis Wade is a totally enthralling presence and the band’s set is captivating.
SBTRKT open with the first song off their latest record, Wonder Where We Land, and as we see and hear the vocalist work his way into the song, one thing is immediately clear – it’s not SBTRKT’s long-time collaborator, Sampha. While this is initially disappointing, we quickly shake it off, as the ‘replacement’ certainly holds his own and adds an exciting element to the live set.
Hold On is the first track SBTRKT play from their first album, and it’s met with plenty of enthusiasm and robust singing from the audience. It’s a sweltering night, but that doesn’t deter anyone from getting down. SBTRKT is in the centre of the stage tweaking knobs and pushing buttons, and occasionally smashing the cowbell, with two drummers either side of him. As SBTRKT launches into Look Away, we notice (for the first time) projections of a girl staring at us, looming in the background. The light show throughout the performance is pretty darn spectacular, with laser beams darting out from every direction, creating what looks like a tumultuous storm inside the venue.
Unexpectedly, a highlight of the night is The Light, which usually features Denai Moore, but our guest vocalist comes out once more to give it some extra oomph. He absolutely slays the chorus and does an equally gorgeous job with Temporary View, making the song his own. The main set closes with Wildfire, which is fantastic live considering there are no live vocals. SBTRKT creates layers of sound with the whiny bleeps, the vocals from the chorus and also Yukimi Nagano’s vocals broken up and used as for percussive purposes. Sounds strange, but it’s exciting to watch.
The encore features their smash single New Dorp. New York, a clear favourite the crowd have been waiting for all night. SBTRKT also performs his remix of Lotus Flower by Radiohead, which highlights his experimental nature. They finish off with an uplifting Something Goes Right and the dark-but-danceable Right Thing To Do.