Reviewed on Friday June 27 (photo by Ashley Mar)
It’s hard to get intimate in a room full of strangers. Intimate in the sexiest, most seductive sense of the word, that is – or those aspects that make Chet Faker such an alluring artist, far beyond the beard. Listen to Built On Glass in a dimly lit room with a bottle of brandy and you’ll come out feeling like a cigarette and a cold shower.
That’s what’s tough about Faker’s live show. Even in the superbly chosen Enmore Theatre venue, where this is one of his three nights, it’s hard to get down with Chet when you’re standing in an orgy of heaving punters. His voice is as immediate as ever, but from behind the arrangement of knobs and faders that comprise his soulful sound, he can’t quite pull off the connection that a live band does when it demands you daren’t look away for fear of missing a moment.
Not that his songs are anything but a delight. The tumbling, cascading rhythms of ‘Archangel’ set the scene for a setlist that’s split between material from Faker’s debut album and the EPs that made his name. ‘1998’, which he calls “the first house song I ever put out”, receives the first rapturous response of the new stuff. And while he draws on loops and sampled sounds, he makes a point of showing the audience he’s live and vulnerable by way of an improvised track. “A lot of people are settling for something that isn’t live,” he says. “Please enjoy my fuck ups.”
Still, the show lacks a certain faculty to seize the attention of everyone present – at least until Faker begins his hit ‘No Diggity’ cover and pauses for a request. “Can we put the phones away for one song?” he asks. “You can go to YouTube and see hundreds of shitty videos.” Enjoy the moment, is his message, and perhaps that’s what was lacking all along. Suddenly, the spirit is alight – collaborator Flume even appears for a brief boogie over ‘Drop The Game’ – and Faker ends with a passable though lo-fi version of ‘Talk Is Cheap’. He knows the rule: it’s the actions that count.