Gang Of Youths
Gang of Youths | Credit: Marc Grimwade/WireImage (Getty)

Gang Of Youths Review – Sentimental End to Sydney Band’s Arena Tour

Gang of Youths performed at the Enmore Theatre, Sydney, on Monday, 22nd August. Alasdair Belling reviews.

A Gang of Youths show at Sydney’s famed Enmore Theatre is now considered an “intimate” outing for rock’s brightest stars. On a Monday night no less, a measly 1800 punters crammed into the rickety cultural landmark in Sydney’s Inner West to witness David Le’aupepe, Donnie Borzestowski, Max Dunn, Tom Hobden and Jung Kim close out their arena-sized lap of the country in sentimental fashion.

Despite being promised a stripped-back acoustic set, the audience was in raucous spirits before the band took the stage. A surprise appearance from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in the front row of the balcony further excited the throng, with the PM acceding to the mob’s demands to skol a cold one in honour of his late predecessor Bob Hawke.

Gang of Youths strip down for tour finale

But the audience descended into a hush as the house lights dimmed and Le’aupepe took the stage solo to open proceedings, transforming the euphoric ‘Fear and Trembling’ into a stripped-back bard’s tale. Hobden joined soon after to add violin to the opening movements of ‘Do Not Let Your Spirit Wane’, with the rest of the band arriving in due course.

Far from the arena spectacular witnessed across the country over the last several weeks, the band opted for a more dapper set, with lamps and drapes surrounding the members, arrayed in a semi-circle, with a xylophone, various percussion instruments, a mini grand piano, a troubadour’s stool and a collection of acoustic and electric guitars scattered around the stage.

Like many outings in the unplugged tradition, setlist staples were traded for deeper cuts and the occasional cover. Heartstrings were tugged by a show-stopping rendition of ‘Brothers’, while a cover of Colin Hay’s ‘I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You’ reminded those in attendance that the band was as much indebted to traditional singer-songwriters as Arcade Fire and U2.

Gang of Youths – ‘the angels 8th ave.’ (Piano Version)

The more relaxed setting also facilitated storytelling, with Le’aupepe waxing lyrical about getting kicked out of the venue twice for being drunk in his youth, and being refused entry to see the likes of Sonic Youth and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. That the band had sold out this venue a record eight times on their previous album cycle was unimportant – this was a night to pay tribute to the community that raised them, rather than bask in the glory of their remarkable success.

As per tour tradition, Gretta Ray appeared for a softer but no less epic rendition of ‘The Deepest Sighs, The Frankest Shadows’ from 2017’s Go Farther in LightnessHowever, for all the anecdotes and considered reimaginings, it was the spontaneous encore performance of ‘In The Wake Of Your Leave’ – brought on by a crowd sing-along in the interval – and the surprise finale of ‘Kansas’ that left the crowd spellbound.

To end their biggest Australian tour to date on such a sentimental and exclusive note was a masterstroke by the band. Tickets for Monday’s performance were among the most sought-after commodities in the city, and after a sophisticated 12 song performance, punters left the Enmore Theatre wondering what on earth the band would prepare for us next.

Further Reading

Genesis Owusu Halts Sydney Show After Enmore Theatre Floor Collapses

Watch Gang Of Youths Perform On The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Ex-Gang Of Youths Guitarist Joji Malani Launches New Solo Project Pei With Debut Single ‘Honest’

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