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DAFT PUNK Thanks for the (Random Access) Memories


By way of an unexpected video posted on their YouTube channel last week, the massively influential and globally renowned Parisian electronic duo Daft Punk, announced their breakup. The news was confirmed by their longtime representative Kathryn Frazier, without any further details. The post was the #1 trending video on YouTube for days and has almost clocked over 22 million views in five days.

The video, entitled Epilogue, was in fact an edited excerpt from the end of their 2006 film Electroma (which was silent apart from music) which featured the two main robot characters wandering off into the desert, before one of them helps the other set his self-destruct countdown sequence. While in the film, the other robot ends up setting fire to himself, this edit ends with him walking off into the sunset to the sound of their emotional track Touch from their last studio album Random Access Memories, that features the lyric “If love is the answer, you’re home.” A graphic appears with the words “1993-2021.”

The news set off global shock waves, and an outpouring of love and grief, almost as if they had died, affirming their legendary status globally. Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter formed Daft Punk almost 30 years ago, when the world and the electronic music scene was very different, and they have left an indelible mark.

With their unique take on house music, part of the new wave of “French Touch” in the 90s, they were a ground-breaking act that changed the game, redefining and evolving electronic music into the 2000s. Their boundary pushing debut Homework, defined their trademark electro-house sound, with more of a harder edge, and featured huge singles like Da Funk and Around the World. Daft Punk took things to the next level with the world conquering, more pop-edged Discovery in 2001, featuring One More Time, Digital Love and Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger (famously sampled by Kanye West). Always shrouded in mystery, the duo were very private and soon adopted their robot characters as their public personas, appearing on stage and at awards nights in their signature suits.

Daft Punk’s third album Human After All in 2006 saw them embark on a massive world tour with their legendary, ambitious, ground-breaking “pyramid” live show. They went on to produce the score for Tron: Legacy and their last album was 2013’s Grammy Album Of The Year winning, collaborative homage to dance music, Random Access Memories.

Long-time X-Press writer Alfred Gorman covered Daft Punk’s legendary 2007 Perth “pyramid” show, and to celebrate their legacy we’ve republished it in full below:


Daft Punk @ Perth Esplanade
Sunday, December 16, 2007

Well. What can one say really – try putting that into words. No YouTube video could have ever prepared you for the spectacle of actually being there as the Daft Punk mothership descended upon the Esplanade on Sunday night.

Truly a show to go down in history, the Punks’ “Two Robots in a Pyramid With a Brain-Scrambling Light Show” or Alive tour, if you prefer, has been getting rave reviews Around The World (pun definitely intended).

It wasn’t the finest Perth summer’s day to welcome the coming of Daft Punk to our shores, though we were fortunate the weather held out for most of the evening. Punters of all ages, shapes and sizes had turned out in force, some wearing supplied robot masks, some actually bringing their own. Even Superman made an appearance!

The line-up read like a Modular artist roster; Plug-In City, are one of the label’s latest nu-wave indie acts from Melbourne, and definitely a name to watch, charming the early crowd; Muscles who was also on the bill had to pull out at the last minute, but this just meant a better spot for Van She who attracted a good crowd to the front of the stage, who lapped up their new single, Cat and the Eye, and the synth-pop, summer, funtime favourite Kelly.

Cut Copy finally have some new material coming out next year and it was great to see the boys back in town, rocking out with Hearts On Fire and Time Stands Still. The Bang Gang Deejay posse always impress with their party sets and the boys didn’t disappoint tonight. But it was The Presets who really got the night properly kicked off, or maybe it was just the booze setting in, lifting the vibe and getting people moving with an energetic set including the stomping Are You The One.

Many were keen to see Ed Banger boys SebastiAn and Kavinsky in action, however the main stage was shrouded in a black curtain during their set as final preparations were made – nevertheless it was a banging cutup electro set that wound the crowd up to fever pitch, with a wicked electro-breaks mix of Black Eyed Peas’ Weekend. Some Rage Against The Machine found its way into the mix, before things wound down and David Bowie’s majestic Life On Mars fittingly piped up, setting the scene.

Then those famous five notes from Close Encounters of the Third Kind sounded out… as we greeted our alien friends with extra-terrestrial excitement. The black curtains parted revealing the mighty set up in all its glory – the crowd cheered – the wait was finally over, and like a giant robot waking out of its slumber the sound kicked in with a groan and a creak as Robot Rock echoed out into the night.

Technologic saw the giant LED back screen used to great effect, and clever fusing of tracks created a new tune, “Television Rules the Nation, Around The World.”

There were some huge build upseach track had been remixed, redited and customised especially to fit into the set – some tracks were relatively untouched floating in and out of the mix multiple times throughout the night, while others were rejigged, updated and fattened up, sounding Harder, Better, Faster and Stronger. It was like the ultimate Daft Punk megamix DJ’d by a couple intergalactic android funksters on robocrack.

It was hard to tell exactly what they were doing up there in their robot suits (apart from getting rather hot), but it would be a safe assumption, giving DP’s groundbreaking production and technical ability, that they were not simply playing CDs. Though there was no doubt given the nature of the tour and the scale of the synchronised light show, that the set was very much a meticulously constructed, finely honed, preconceived ideal, as evidenced by the near identical tracklisting of their new Alive tour CD release (incidentally there will be no DVD release), but this detracted none from the impact of performance.

One More Time was revealed in all its anthemic glory, while Too Long was blended into Steam Machine, by way of the classic keyboard riff from Bronski Beat’s Smalltown Boy.

Intelligent lighting would be an understatement – the stage had life of its own – the triangular pulsing grid, the shining pyramid, the massive rig, all flashing and shimmering and exploding in perfect unison with the music.

Da Funk was an undoubted highlight – the crowd going mental as the signature groove and bassline kicked in, bringing things to a climax, as the sound and lights subsided. After a brief break they returned for a Rock ‘n’ Roll Human After All finale which would have blown the roof off, had there been one.

As the lights went up, the sound of Elvis’ Fools Rush In played, the enraptured crowd singing along, “I can’t help, falling in love with you.” And indeed who could? As the mass flooded out into the city streets, some headed to The Bakery for the after-party, while others had to come back to earth and deal with work tomorrow – at least safe in the knowledge that they had witnessed one of the greatest shows ever staged, full stop.

ALFRED GORMAN

 

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