Live, Music, Reviews

In a crazy week, Melbourne gets loose with The Vengaboys: review

| |

After the utterly shocking news of this week’s US election, there seemed only one viable solution – to shake it off and dance the night (and world) away. To that end, Euro-pop foursome The Vengaboys and a raft of ’90s dance acts had taken over Melbourne’s Festival Hall on Thursday, promising a night of beats and cheese.

The night got underway bang on time at the early hour of 7:30, and the venue was surprisingly packed with the floors already sticky with spilled booze from the well-lubricated throng. I missed but heard the first two acts (mostly forgotten Aussie dance diva Joanne and Swedish popstar Whigfield – Saturday Night, Sexy Eyes) as I lined up to get in and also joined the very long bar queue in the bowels of Festival Hall.

The format for the night was clear from the get go — a selection of notable dance pop acts performing a short selection of their biggest hits as the warm up to the headliners, The Vengaboys. The first act I saw was Sonique who impressed on her three songs, singing well and wrapping with her biggest tune, Feels So Good. Next was Crystal Waters, flanked by two dancers who put together a surprisingly energetic set including Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless), Destination Calabria and 100% Pure Love. Crystal has never been known for her vocal range, so it was great just how well she and her dancers presented their set. The last of the supports was British starlet Tina Cousins, and this was where the wheels really fell off.

Tina had a lot of hit material to work with in Mysterious Times, Wonderful Life, Pray and Forever. While she did indeed sing on the studio versions of these tracks, her live renditions of them left me wondering: can Tina Cousins sing? Is she sick? I was so bewildered by the caterwauling coming from her that I asked someone behind the sound desk if she always sounded like this – to which he only offered “she sounds like dogshit”. Tina constantly screamed at the crowd – “Melbourne, you’re not loud enough!” – the lack of response should have alerted her to the fact that few were enjoying her set and that no amount of cajoling us to scream would cover the vocals she was producing.

At least Tina, like Sonique and Crystal Waters before her, did sing live – something which is often not a guarantee at these type of shows. The support acts came to an inglorious end with Tina’s dance cover of Kings of Leon’s Sex on Fire which needs to be heard to be disbelieved. By this stage the crowd was decidedly boozy and ready for the headliners, The Vengaboys, to deliver on their promise of bringing the party.

As a dance version of Advance Australia Fair belted out over the PA, The Vengaboys took to the stage in formation, dressed in colourful circus-like outfits in front of a big video screen. The crowd screamed their guts out! The set included every major Vengaboys hit: We Like To Party (The Vengabus), Boom Boom Boom Boom, Up & Down, Shalalalala plus a few surprises in their versions of Kylie Minogues Can’t Get You Out of My Head and LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem.

The Vengaboys show was certainly slicker than the supports – and it should be, this was their event. But that’s not to suggest that it was particularly strong. The Vengaboys consistenly tour the world, so I expected them to be much more polished than they were. The dance routines were lazy and the ‘singing’ was at times even lazier, relying on the backing track in favour of live vocals. The Vengaboys are very much the dance-pop adult version of The Wiggles – except, based on what I saw last night, The Wiggles are far more polished. “Party act” or not, if you aren’t going to sing and dance like it matters then the party isn’t really ever going to lift off – and for me it didn’t.

That’s not to say that others didn’t get exactly what they came for.  I asked a group of girls afterwards what they thought of the show and they had a very different take. Word for word, they slurred “it was amazing, it was awesome, they really did kill it, they got all dressed up and it was a fun time – ah the music, it takes me back to the ’90s” before the girls launched into their own version of We Like to Party and danced off down the street. So its all a matter of perspective. If all you wanted was to see The Vengaboys dressed up in colourful outfits and dancing as their hit songs belted out loudly over the PA – then for some, that was clearly enough.

A friend who I attended with suggested that the success of the night might best be judged by the level of the hangover today. By that standard, as I write this with a cracking headache, remembering the mostly drunken state of the crowd at the show’s end – then yes, it was a huge success. Given the surprising turn of events with the US election this week, perhaps a big, loud and boozy dance-fest that didn’t at all take itself seriously, was just what was needed.

[box]The Vengaboys wrap up their 10 date tour of Australia with sold out shows in Adelaide and Perth this weekend.[/box]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *