Truly, madly, deeply – Plenty of love for Darren Hayes on comeback tour

Melbourne concert review by Louise Duncan

It was to thunderous applause and squeals of delight that Darren Hayes opened his Melbourne show at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl on Saturday February 4, the second stop of his Do you Remember world tour.

Kicking off the show with jubilant renditions of the Savage Garden hits ‘Chained to You’, ‘Affirmation’, and ‘The Animal Song’, the spirited crowd were on their feet in an instant.

Having just been treated to a joyful nostalgia fest by 90s pop staples Bachelor Girl, the crowd was well prepped for an evening that, at times, felt wonderfully like an exuberant sing-a-long.

Perhaps owing to the extended break Hayes took from recording and performing (2022’s Homosexual marks the first release since 2011’s epic masterpiece Secret Codes and Battleships), there was a palpable glee between fans and Hayes to be seeing one another again.  

Homosexual, like each of Hayes’s solo records, is unique and distinct to its predecessor in style and tone.

The commonality between them being Hayes’s impossibly evocative lyrics and phenomenal vocal range. Of course, the curse for any artist that dares to evolve and experiment is that new music rarely comes out on top in competition with songs you’ve been singing loudly in your car for the past 25 years.

With his signature brand of humour, both cheeky and self-aware, Hayes introduced new music with a hilarious skit which resulted in him branding performances of ‘Do You Remember’, ‘Homosexual (Act one)’ and ‘Let’s Try Being In Love’ the ‘party section’ of the show.

And what a party it was, these are the ready-made club anthems that will no doubt earn him a whole new generation of fans.

From new fans to old fans, interspersed in the crowd were also the super fans (like me), the ones that never stopped interacting during Hayes’s hiatus.

We cheered on his home work-outs, we hung out for Huxley updates (the adorable pooch that’s stolen our hearts), we hurriedly downloaded his fan app, we chased down side projects like We are Smug and Saturday. We absolutely revelled in hearing songs like ‘Casey’ and ‘Dublin Sky’ from his solo career. I’m not afraid to admit I bawled through both of them!

It’s been 15 years since I last saw Darren Hayes at the Thebarton Theatre in Adelaide when he was touring 2007’s This Delicate Thing We’ve Made.

While I loved every second of that show, nothing compared to seeing Hayes in his element in a big venue, full to the brim of fans that waited with profound anticipation in a line that snaked through the surrounding parklands as far as the eye could see.

In that line were teenagers and pensioners, of all backgrounds and orientations.

We laughed and cried together on an emotional rollercoaster that was mostly joyous but at times pointedly poignant.

Closing out the show with the high energy hits ‘I Want You’ and ‘The Best Thing’, I’ve never attended a show where the artist and the crowd seemed so loathe to part.

There’s not a doubt that it was worth the 1500km round trip we took from Adelaide; you just can’t put a price on an experience that leaves your heart so full.

After other plans fell through, including unused tickets to the Perth Show, I was ultimately accompanied on Saturday by my partner, a former drummer for a local heavy metal band.

For context, part of the drive over from Adelaide was spent introducing me to Swedish death metal, so I could better identify how it differentiated from Florida death metal.

Knowing what it meant to me, he graciously pretended to be excited about the Darren Hayes concert, to which he kindly and perhaps begrudgingly was accompanying me.

At the end of the show? Well he posted to Facebook for all to see about how genuinely impressed he was by the show, and how Hayes had theatrically commanded the stage with use of minimal staging and lighting, and how he had ended up having a really good time.

How many acts are good enough to convert you from Cannibal Corpse to Australian pop royalty?

The Do You Remember Tour continues Tuesday night at the Aware Super Theatre in Sydney, with shows in Newcastle and Hayes’ home city of Brisbane rounding out the dates in the Australian leg.

Then it’s on to the UK, where some shows have already sold out and extra dates added, finishing up in America and Canada.  

Grab your tickets HERE to a truly life altering experience.