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ELECTRIC GARDENS @ Red Hill Auditorium gets 8.5/10

Electric Gardens @ Red Hill Auditorium
w/ Fatboy Slim, Gorgon City, Motez, Henry Saiz
Friday, January 19, 2018

8.5/10

Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim is a living legend of dance music, and in recent years he’s been very active again. Returning to the Red Hill Auditorium where played with James Zabiela previously a couple years back, he didn’t really bring much of anything new, but when you pack the sort of show he does, it’s not necessary. He’s a master at what he does, a pioneer, an originator, the ultimate party DJ – it’s a non-stop audio visual mashup celebration.

The Electric Gardens team had put together a real little festival for this. Kicking off from 6pm with three big supports, it was well worth getting up to the Hill early to settle in before sunset, grab some food, a drink and enjoy the impressive vista, with the city in the distance. Taking advantage of the shuttle buses from various pubs around town, quite a few people were in fact down from early on, and had evidently been tying one on, already well in the party spirit.

Henry Saiz

Spaniard Henry Saiz was up first, with the honours of the sunset set. Arguably the second biggest name on the bill, Saiz is a well-established DJ and producer of quality deep house music, and probably deserved a better spot on the bill. Having played banging club sets in Perth before, we know what he’s capable of, but being the true professional he is, he put together a much more mellow, lush, atmospheric set, well suited to the start of the night. A perfect soundtrack to the hazy, rusty sunset on the horizon, with just enough energy to encourage a few early groovers, he dropped a cool remix of Donna Summer’s Giorgio Moroder produced classic I Feel Love.

He could have benefitted from a bit more volume, but built the mood with class, and by the time darkness had fallen and he wound out his set with the gorgeous Ry X remix of Rihanna’s Love On The Brain, he’d created a real heady vibe that had drawn in the rapidly filling amphitheatre.

Motez

He handed over a primed crowd to Motez, who then took things to the next level. Immediately pumping up the volume and beats, and dancing behind the decks with infectious enthusiasm, Motez is small in stature, but big in presence. Born and raised in Baghdad, he’s lived in Adelaide for the last 10 years, and has established himself as one of the premier DJs and Producers in the country.

He didn’t waste time in dropping one of his big tracks Down Like This feat. Tkay Maidza. The crowd responded well and he soon had the dancefloor moving to his upbeat mix of stabbing synths and throbbing beats. His huge tunes Promise Me and Praise best exemplify his unique brand of jacking house.

Gorgon City

Next up was Gorgon City – well, at least one of the duo. He played a tight set of smooth beats and vocal house with that London garage vibe, but it seemed a little lifeless and generic at times, with tracks like their Duke Dumont collaboration Real Life.

There were a few highlights like Versus’ 1988, the brand new, fresh tribal house jam Wilderness by Ferreck Dawn and Gorgon City’s own remix of London Grammar’s Hell To The Liars.

Gorgon City

There was a bit of a break then, as the crowd really swelled down front in anticipation, before suddenly a bizarre short video featuring Shane Warne pretending to be Fatboy Slim appeared.

Then on the giant HD sceen at the back of stage, some red curtains pulled apart to reveal a yellow, ‘smiley’ skull and crossbones, backed by some wings on fire, as the vocals from Praise You sounded out.

Then the man himself appeared, looking ever the elder statesman in his trademark Hawaiian T-shirt, and wasted no time messing about, dropping his huge hit with Riva Starr and Beardyman, Eat Sleep Rave Repeat. As Cook mimed the spoken word element, the music built up and the mantra-like chorus kicked in, as did some giant freaky clown-like images. Then the beat dropped – the scorching acid riff saw the stage explode into life with a myriad of spinning, coloured lights and strobes, as Cook pumped his fist, legs apart, mouth agape, with that mad sparkle in his eyes. It was on.

From there on in, it was a whirlwind, rollercoaster ride through a plethora of Cook’s many classic tracks, mashed up and remixed with a bunch of other legendary dance tunes. The only criticism would be that he never stays on one track too long. Just as you’re getting into the groove of Renegade Master or Fucking In Heaven, he switches it up.

The seamless way which he stiches the tracks together is where his real magic lies. It’s hard to say how much he’s doing live. There’s no doubt a huge prepared element for a set this complex and tightly woven, but he seems to have some flexibility to rejig and tweak elements on the fly. He’s not going to win any huge points for originality – you know what to expect at a Fatboy Slim show – but that’s half the charm. It’s still immensely enjoyable, and he does it so well.

The visuals were amazing, taking the show to the next level. Mad imagery, freaky montages, blatant drug references, surreal caricatures, all in giant, vivid high-definition, synched with the music. It really added another dimension to it.

Fatboy Slim

Looking around at the crowd of all ages, smiley happy faces, young and old, you realised some of the kids there would literally not have been born when Cook, 54, had his first big dance hit Dub Be Good To Me with Beats International in 1990. Cook has been doing this a long time. He knows how to party and put on a show. It’s pure hedonism of the highest order.

Tracks were thrown into the blender and spat out the other side. One sequence featured Pnau’s Chameleon, White Stripes Seven Nation Army and Survivor’s Eye Of The Tiger.

The 2016 rework of The Creeps by Nari & Milani and Cristian Marchi was massive and saw giant green lasers unleashed, shooting up above the amphitheatre.

The AV show reach some huge peaks, as a montage of orgasmic women’s faces blended together on the big screen, in synch with the music, including Meg Ryan from When Harry Met Sally. But the real climax was when he played Queen’s Radio Ga Ga with the original video synched up behind him.

He mashed up a little medley of Right Here, Right Now, Arcade Fire’s Everything Now and Praise You as Cook swung his headphones around his head by the lead. He finished with his own signature mashup of The Rockerfeller Skank and The Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction.

Never change Norman. A living legend, who deserves high praise indeed.

ALFRED GORMAN

Photos by Linda Dunjey Photography

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