When it was announced a few months back that the band behind that annoying yet widely popular song Barbie Girl would be touring down under, I think we were all surprised. However, fast forward to last night and fans (mainly women) are lined up down the main street of West End for the first of two Brisbane shows, with the second being sold out. It is the long-awaited return for Aqua who have sold in excess of thirty-three million albums, making them the most successful band out of Denmark, and one of many 90s bands making a comeback…and quite successfully too, I might add.
Entering the Hi-Fi, punters were welcomed by the sounds of DJ Harry K, who gets the night started with his mix of the latest dance hits to get people moving. As 9pm strikes, the DJ swaps his desk over to Australian electro/pop trio Radio Ink, comprised of DJ’s Dic Money, Ronny Clark and vocalist Miss S. Initially coming on stage to a room full of cheers, the excitement soon dies down for their thirty-minute set, which sees the DJ’s bouncing around behind the desk and occasionally holding up a sign urging the crowd to ‘Clap Your Hands’…it works, but people soon go back to their conversations and drinking. Promoting their latest single Who We Are Tonight, Miss S throws CD’s out into the crowd before launching into the new song shortly before wrapping up the set.
As the members of Radio Ink wade their way through the crowd to sign up at the merch table, Harry K returns to the stage to fill in the final waiting period before Aqua, which isn’t far away. With the curtains closing at 9.45pm the chants for Aqua start, with every little peek and movement behind the curtains sending the crowd into a frenzy. A deafening wave of squeals and whistling soon fills the Hi-Fi as the curtains open at 10pm and one by one the seven members of Aqua’s touring outfit take the stage.
Kicking things off with new single Playmate 2 Jesus and Cartoon Heroes, it doesn’t take long before they have people dancing to their songs, however it is the third song of the night, Dr Jones, that really gets the whole venue of friendly patrons dancing and singing along. With the band made up of two keyboardists, two guitarists, (who have spent most of their time bouncing and clapping their hands), and a drummer taking a break, it allows the singers Lene Nystrøm and René Dif to have their first conversation with the crowd. Nystrøm, who is married to keyboardist Søren Rasted, reveals that she is just recovering from a bout of pneumonia and asks the crowd to act like her nurturing mother in sending all our energy to her whilst she acts like our rebellious daughter…and rebellious she is as she launches into Fuck Me Like A Robot by removing her pants. Happy Boys And Happy Girls follows with lead male vocalist René Dif getting up close and personal with the crowd whilst Nystrøm now removes her shirt revealing the rest of her leotard. Even with pneumonia lurking in the recent history, Nystrøm’s voice is still sounding good.
After a bit of a slower song, the deep voice of Dif speaking the words ‘Hiya Barbie’ sends the crowd absolutely mental. Yet again squeals of all the young girls fill the room and there is a mad dash to grab whatever spots lie vacant towards the front of the dance floor as Aqua rip into undoubtedly their most famous song, Barbie Girl. Soon to follow are the hits Turn Back Time, Lollipop and Around The World. Finishing their main set on We Belong To The Sea, Dif starts taking phones from the crowd and filming a little on stage as well as down his pants before returning them to their respective owners…whether or not they’ll watch the footage is another story.
What must have sounded like a stampede outside The Hi-Fi was in fact the crowd stamping their feet and clapping their hands for an encore, and an encore they got with Aqua returning to the stage for a three-song encore ending on Roses Are Red. Thanking the crowd and introducing the band, Nystrøm then asked for but one more favour, a quick stage dive.
Whether you love em or hate em there is no doubt that Aqua delivered a top show in fine form to their legion of Brissie fans.
Photos By Barry Schipplock