It’s been a massive 12 months for Sydney band, Gang of Youths. With debut album The Positions released to critical acclaim and commercial success, the five-piece are riding high, enjoying a rapidly growing fan-base, a swag of ARIA nominations and taking out number 21 in the Hottest 100.
And the significance of such success is not lost on the outfit, with front-man, Dave Le’aupepe observing part way through their Adelaide gig on Friday night that their previous appearances here have included shows at the Exeter and the Uni Bar, making this sold out performance at The Gov all the more remarkable.
With all the tickets snapped up well in advance, the crowd were not casual observers but band enthusiasts singing along with many of the lyrics. It’s the sort of following you might expect a few albums into a band’s career, but not when touring their debut LP. This is a testament to Le’aupepe’s nuanced songwriting, that clearly resonates an audience, and the band’s strong live performances, effectively translating the soundscape of recordings into a powerful show.
As decisive as such successes have been though, the band are clearly not resting on their laurels, with a surprising amount of new material in the set list. This intention was clear from the start, with the bold choice to open up with a new song, Le’aupepe emoting over dirty chords on his telecaster before the band joined in. We look forward to the recorded work.
From there we were in more familiar territory with ‘Restraint and Release’ and ‘Poison Drum’, which had the crowd singing along.
Midway through the set there was a change of pace: a keyboard was brought on stage for Le’aupepe and the anthemic Joy Division meets Springsteen vibe was replaced with the softer moments of ‘Kansas’ and ‘Knuckles White Dry’ (although when he played a few bars of Outkast’s ‘Caroline’, it briefly felt that the show might turn cabaret).
The main set finished up with ‘Magnolia’, drawing a huge crowd reaction, before the band returned for an extended encore that left everyone satisfied.
Gang of Youths are the real deal. In an era of producers and manufactured music it’s great to see a band who clearly enjoy making music together and who do it so damn well. And in Le’aupepe we have a genuine rock star who never ceases to engage the audience with a Hutchence-like charisma and the passion of a Springsteen.
It’s exciting to think that these guys have only just started out and what might lay ahead. Can’t wait for those new recordings.
Written by Matthew Trainor
Photographs by Kay Cann