Reviewed on Friday February 13
With a renewed sense of confidence, Nick Murphy didn’t just take to the stage as Chet Faker – he commanded it. As someone who built his reputation on live performance, his shift from underground gigs to a sold-out Hordern personified the tension between indie credibility and mainstream success. It also begs the question – what has Faker sacrificed in order to grow?
Having just cleaned up at the ARIAs and taken the top spot of triple j’s Hottest 100, a reasonable answer could be, “Who cares?” Clearly, whatever Murphy is producing has a solid audience, and judging by the Hordern audience it’s as diverse as it is fanatic. From the second he walked on wearing (inexplicably, given the heat) a beanie and white tee, the energy from the crowd was near tipping point.
Recreating the sense of intimacy on which he built his live reputation was always going to be a challenge. But decisions like playing ‘Talk Is Cheap’ solo on the keys and doing a cover of Van Morrison’s ‘Moondance’ sent a clear message – there would be no pandering to what the crowd thought it wanted. It paid off.
While not entirely consistent, Faker’s first and only full-length LP was clearly written to be translated live. After a dip through the first half, highlights included ‘Blush’ and ‘Love And Feeling’, thanks to the assistance of a skilled guitarist and drummer who barely broke a sweat. It was engineered, of course, so that Murphy took on the brunt of the work, still eager to prove that electronic artists require the same skill level as any musician if they’re doing it right.
It was when Murphy revisited his viral hit ‘No Diggity’ that the difference between 2011 and now was highlighted. Where he once complained about people whipping out their phones to record a show rather than experiencing it, now he demanded that all “streaming devices” be put away. Probably for the first time in half a decade, the Hordern was entirely free from their cold light.
Whether it’s his recent success that’s made everyone pay attention is irrelevant. Good or bad, it seems like Chet Faker has earned the respect of fans without sacrificing the sense that he is making a genuine effort to maintain his integrity – whether as a supporting artist at a tiny club or his own consecutively sold-out shows.