Last night we made our way up to Islington in North London to see the opening night of Darren Hayes ‘Side Two Tour’ and it was nothing short of incredible.  Around 300 hardcore fans (including ourselves) were already lined up from 4pm in the cold to make sure they got a place at the front of the stage for this extremely intimate show which is Darren’s last leg of promotional effort before he goes on hiatus.

To truly enjoy this show, it’s pretty safe to say that you have to be a real fan of his music to begin with as a fair amount of the songs in the setlist were older obscure tracks that haven’t been performed live yet.  Having said that, we noticed that there were a lot of new faces at this show, proving that Darren and his epic double album ‘This Delicate Thing We’ve Made’ are still attracting new fans.

You know when Madonna goes on tour and she doesn’t sing her hits, albeit just a few gems, well this tour for Darren is pretty much along the same lines – Don’t expect to hear ‘I Want You’, ‘On The Verge Of Something Wonderful’ or ‘Insatiable’ on this tour EQs.  This one’s for the hardcore fans.  Although the show isn’t what you would usually come to expect from Darren, you still go away thinking, wow – that was beyond great.

Here are some highlights of the show – and please LOOK AWAY now if you don’t want to read the SPOILERS.

  • The show opened with Darren performing ‘Hero’ – one of our favourite songs from ‘The Tension And The Spark’.
  • ‘Bombs Up In My Face’ made a triumphant live return to the setlist, resurrected from Darren’s earlier shows at The Soho Revue bar.
  • Darren debuted ‘A Conversation With God’ during this live set – a masterpiece and one of the best songs from the new album that sounds wonderful live.
  • ‘100 Challenging Things A Boy Can Do’ and ‘Sense Of Humour’ was just stunning.
  • Staying true to his penchant for resurrecting old Savage Garden songs – Darren gave us a treat in the way of ‘Gunning Down A Romance’ which featured some amazing guitar work by Steve Young.
  • Proving once again (as if we needed more proof) that Justin Shave is an electronic god, ‘Setting Sun’ was performed solely on Justin’s ‘keytar’.  It was mesmerizing to witness an entire song with funky beats and blips coming out of just a keytar and Shave’s fingers.  Magnificent.
  • ‘Random Blinking Light’ was a performed to many o fan’s delight.  It was really cool to see most of the faces singing along to this obscure track from ‘Tension And The Spark’ era.
  • ‘Dirty’ also got an electro makeover which was just flawless – I never really cared too much for this early track from ‘Spin’, but hearing this new version of it really got me excited.
  • Darren did of course sing his new song ‘Casey’ not once, but twice.  The crowd got a little over zealous with their thunderous clapping that it threw even Darren off, so he had to sing it twice being that it was being recorded for exclusive single download.
  • ‘I Don’t Care’ and ‘So Beautiful’ closed out the show as the encore with ‘So Beautiful’ being remixed into a danceable diddy which sent everyone home on a high.

By all means, the above isn’t a complete setlist, but it’s best if we leave a few things as a surprise for anyone who is lucky enough to have scored tickets for the rest of the tour.  Something tells us that the show may change slightly a little on the way as this tour almost seems like an little experiment for Darren.  It’s no surprise either a lot that the hardcore fans have bought tickets for almost every performance.  We’ll be back to see the show on 24th February to see how it has evolved from opening night. 

Darren had this to say today about his unusual yet interesting setlist:

"In many ways as a show it reminds me of what ‘The Tension and The Spark’ was as an album.  A bit uncomfortable but utterly pivotal."

All in all – a hugely relaxed and euphoric atmosphere with a healthy dose of intimacy.  The show almost felt like a reward.  The perfect send-off for Darren and his fans as he "goes away for awhile" as he stated onstage. 

Our only question is this – What if ‘Casey’ becomes a huge hit when it is released in March?  Darren may have to get on the promotional trail a bit again if the song so deservedly takes off…and we wouldn’t be surprised if it’s just as popular as Robyn’s sleeper hit ‘With Every Heartbeat’ was and still is. 

We can only wait and see.