Considering The Avalanches weren’t actually playing at Splendour in the Grass, I don’t really know how they became the support acts for a Splendour sideshow..but regardless, I didn’t go to Splendour so I’m not complaining.
Having seen The Avalanches perform at both Falls and Golden Plains with their full band set-up, I found it a little bit of a cop-out to book them as just a DJ set – maybe because it was at Festival Hall, the room just seemed too big to watch two blokes standing behind some decks on the stage, but as always, they were great.
Mixing in tracks such as INXS’ ‘Just Keep Walking’, Yothu Yindi’s ‘Treaty’ and teasing the strings of The Street’s ‘Turn the Page’ was definitely what the crowd needed to get pumped up. Being a DJ set I felt as if they should have played up until The Streets hit the stage but considering the bar lines an intermission wasn’t the worst thing.
The Streets are now one of the most unique acts I have ever seen live. Mike Skinner’s blasé approach to how he delivers his rhymes, a full band set-up (including acoustic guitars) and an amalgamation between a stadium show and spoken word poetry, I was in awe.
Opening with ‘Turn the Page,’ (the opening track off Skinner’s debut album ‘Original Pirate Material’) was an unexpected starter that got the crowd pumping from the second the violins started.
‘Don’t Mug Yourself,’ ‘Has It Come To This?’ and ‘Geezers Need Excitement’ all made early additions in the set which was broken up by Skinner’s tongue-in-cheek commentary- “We get it. You’re cool in Melbourne, you all wear black and drink VB’s” (not inaccurate), with him even at times altering lyrics to make them more applicable to the Australian lifestyle.
Stopping to tell an anecdote prior to ‘Never Went To Church’ Skinner reminisced, “I don’t know if you know this but I lived in Australia for a year. My dad told me to do it because I was depressed. It was the best thing anyone has ever said to me and I miss him a lot.” An emotional reflection which scored a huge uproar from the black-wearing VB drinking crowd. Leading into the mesmerising piano line of ‘Stay Positive’ which donned immense singalongs.
The encore found Skinner adopt a slightly different approach, pausing momentarily and turning the lights on full. “Listen, it’s 2019 Ladies and Gentlemen and when I started doing this, and I just realised this, but when I started doing this women did not crowd surf. And they didn’t do it because they thought ‘I could get sexually assaulted tonight’ but, it’s 2019, I’ve turned the lights on and this lady is wearing white, which is the opposite of black.” Before inviting all the females in the crowd to crowd surf while the lights were on and they safely could, an offer which was taken up by a huge amount of females in the crowd, and one male who Skinner pointed out by saying ‘he identifies as female and that’s even more progressive.’
‘Blinded By The Lights’ was the highlight of the set for me due to it’s slow, off-kilter inebriated-inspired beat, it was honestly mesmerising to watch. ‘Fit But You Know It’ was merged with ‘It Was Supposed To Be So Easy’ as the set’s closer and it was bloody wild with Skinner crowd surfing from the front to the back of the room while sculling champagne. That is until someone stole his shoe and he had to barter two bottles of champagne with the lucky punter to get it returned.
Festival Hall, Melbourne – July 18
Reviewed by Alex Callan