Gang of Youths review:At the right place at the right time

Qudos Bank Arena,August 6

There’s a time and a place for everything and,for Gang of Youths on this tour,this was both.

Frontman Dave Le’aupepe grew up 15 minutes from this venue,he frequently mentions on this night,and used to come here for “f---ing boring” (his words) church conferences. The fact that his band is now performing in the vast arena he knew over the years as the Super Dome,Acer and then Allphones,in front of his closest family and alongside some of his closest friends,is far from lost on him.

Joyful and cathartic:Gang of Youths frontman Dave Le’aupepe at Qudos Bank Arena on Saturday night.

Joyful and cathartic:Gang of Youths frontman Dave Le’aupepe at Qudos Bank Arena on Saturday night.Jess Gleeson

But for all the emotion coursing through this show,and which gives undoubted poignancy to a tender trio of songs late in the set (Brothers,Our Time Is ShortandForbearance),what you’ll love most – what you always love most at a Gang of Youths gig – is the unashamed and infectious energy Le’aupepe brings.

He shimmies,he spins and,when the breakbeats that often turn up on the band’s third album,Angel in Realtime,released this year,kick in,he throws himself around like a man possessed.

It’s not fair just to talk about Le’aupepe,though – something even he makes a point of acknowledging so the whole band get their fair share of the applause.

The most obvious contributors are diminutive keyboard player-turned-lead guitarist Jung Kim and violinist Tom Hobden,but the whole band is terrific,and that’s before we get to support act Gretta Ray. She not only doubles up as Gang of Youths’ backing vocalist throughout,she also leads the first half ofThe Deepest Sighs,the Frankest Shadows and gives it an enthralling feminine spin.

A show of near-biblical proportions:Gang of Youths on Saturday night.

A show of near-biblical proportions:Gang of Youths on Saturday night.Jess Gleeson

The band is audacious enough to lean heavily into the new album,even if the occasional tune from it might not be quite as good as they think it is,but that proves not to matter when they have fresh rock bangers such asIn the Wake of Your Leave ready to join the exalted ranks ofLet Me Down Easy – stopped and restarted twice on this night for comic effect to properly kickstart the crowd – as well asThe Heart is a Muscle andMagnolia,and the impossibly joyful,cathartic rushes they provide.

If this show was an experience of huge significance to the band,at its best it was also one of near-biblical proportions to fans.

Gang of Youths play at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne on August 12 and 13. They finish this tour with an “acoustic and intimate” show at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre on August 22.

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George Palathingal joined The Sydney Morning Herald in 2001. He writes about most fields of entertainment but has always specialised in music,most notably as a live reviewer.

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