Two oversized water coolers flanked the stage last night at the faux-rococo Forum Theatre in Flinders Street, Melbourne — a perfect setting for hometown duo Client Liaison, who could even be described as faux-rococo themselves.
Frontman Monte Morgan and keyboard player Harvey Miller are nothing if not baroque in their promiscuous appropriation of the style and excesses of their chosen period of study, 1980s corporate Australiana. Their large set also includes ludicrous pots of ferns and a large video screen on to which footage of an Ansett Australia 747 is projected to reveal the pair quoffing cocktails in first class.
When the two appear live onstage amid explosions of flame and dry ice, they (and two backing musicians, Miller’s brother Geordie and Triple J’s Tom Tilley) let loose an irresistibly infectious and gag-filled concert of ’80s infused dance crossed with House music and Euro-disco. Imagine the Scissor Sisters crossed with Leo Sayer, George Michael meets Variety Italian Style — and all underpinned with big kick drums and synthesisers.
Their riotously coloured suits could be designed by Jenny Kee while Morgan’s suave persona and mop of dark curls seems to have been inspired by the ’70s TV detective and dandy Jason King. The band’s 1980s off-white stretch Merc parked outside the theatre is as hilarious as the quartet of sexed-up female dancers who intermittently appear on stage to gyrate wtih Morgan while Miller remains safely behind his console.
As they perform perfectly titled songs – World of Our Love and Off White Limousine, the video screen pulsates with animations of excess and leisure – speedboats, tropical isles and cocktails. All that’s missing is John Elliot smoking or Kerri-Anne Kennerley in a duet with Morgan (though he has performed with Tina Arena).
Is this an art project or a massive piss-take? Who knows? But Client Liaison’s slick production values, sophisticated graphics, showmanship and dedication to visual gag after visual gag is serious fun for its mostly 20something audience who all but filled the Forum last night.