Modular Night: Tom Vek, Jonathan Boulet & Kindness – Sydney Opera House 26/05/2012

The bearded Boulet began his set by paying respect to the original land owners, a sentiment that had a few surprised heads swivel and throw impressed looks at their familiars. Showcasing new songs off upcoming album We Keep The Beat, Found The Sound, See The Need, Start The Heart (out June 8), Jonathan Boulet wasted no time, opening with magnificently dark Black Smokehat. With an additional percussionist on stage, it was inevitable that the driving rhythms that make Jonathan Boulet’s sound so energetic would take over. None more so than new single Trounce, which had the crowd moving with its sheer explosion of frantic, rhythmic energy, and tribal jaunts of “I don’t even know what I said, I’m not in control of myself”, making my legs lose control.

New song This Song Is Called Ragged moved at a more moderate pace and is a more pop-driven song with a gorgeous underlying xylophone melody and sweet vocal harmonies. Crowd favourites A Community Service Announcement and Your A Animal were saved until last, the couplet whipping the loyal crowd into a frenzy of dance moves and sing-alongs. As artists age throughout their careers, they usually lose their youthful exuberance and energy, but tonight, Boulet proved that this is not the case: his new material is as bombastic as ever.

Kindness are an odd bunch to behold, their aesthetic as bizarre as their music is catchy. It didn’t matter to any of the audience, who boogied enthusiastically to their funky disco-tinged sound, predominantly driven by seductive slap bass and a flurry of electronic drum fills. The bass-driven track Cyan set the tone for the set, delivering a lethal dose of shoe shufflin’ groove. Other stand-out tracks included dancier number Gee Up and That’s Alright, which brought the full band to life. The crowd pounced on the opportunity for the extra dance space with a stage invasion at the end, but were asked to leave by frontman Bainbridge for messing with the instruments. His sombre on-stage demeanour had no effect on his vocal delivery, which was as crisp as the recordings, but put a real dampener on the visual aspect of the show. They were less engaging than they could have been had they all been in the same mindset – to party.

Tom Vek fans have been waiting in limbo since 2005 for their first tour, so you can only imagine the huge response they got from the (predominantly female) audience. Funny that. Cutting a fine figure, with a neat quiff and understated black-rimmed glasses, Vek had the room swooning from the very beginning, with a large selection of songs from his newer release Leisure Seizure, and all but three tracks from his debut, We Have Sound. The poppier up-tempo edge of songs Aroused and A.P.O.L.O.G.Y. had the crowd moving in a frenzy of dance moves, which subjected my face to an excessive amount of hair-whipping. The commitment of old-school fans were rewarded by outstanding performances of the tracks C-C, A Little Word in Your Ear and I Ain’t Saying My Goodbyes, to the sheer joy of the ultras. It was a captivating set from a man doing exciting things, and (from the ecstatic response) getting people excited about his music. Here’s to hoping it’s not as long a wait between visits.

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