WARNING: This blog post contains spoilers so if you want to read on, then hey, read on EQs…but if you want to be surprised just like we were, then it’s really worth the wait to experience this spectacular show for yourselves, that is if you have the willpower!
So on Friday night, the picturesque seaside city of Brighton hosted the Darren Hayes Time Machine Tour in which the Brighton Dome was turned into a kaleidescope of electronic music, captivating stage design and a spectacular pyro light and laser show to amaze even the most skeptical of music fans who were brought along by their significant others or who were just curious as to what the hell all the fuss is about this man we love who is singing about time travel, applied science and all the other curiously strange things that float up to the surface from ‘This Delicate Thing We’ve Made’.
From the moment we walked into the Dome, we noticed that this was not just another Darren Hayes show, this was a production. Even the ushers were wearing the crisp red shirts and black ties just like Darren’s uniform and the fluidly robotic dancers in the ‘Me Myself and I’ video. The tour book is fashioned into a biblical looking book from the 1800s called ‘How To Build A Time Machine’. Not a coincidence. The excitement from fans was unparalleled. Their smiles alone could tell the stories of how important this tour was going to be. It’s not a greatest hits tour, it’s not a ‘let’s do it one more time for the fans’ effort. This is the defining moment of man who has taken the lead in redefining electronic music. A man who is bringing art back into music and cares enough about the dedicated fans to make sure they have the best seats in the house and a bagful of goodies that are to die for.
After a touching acoustic set by James Murray (whom we will be writing more about on EQ), Darren opened the show with the powerful ‘The Future Holds A Lion’s Heart’ as a shadowy figure emerging from a bridge. At this point we noted that the staging wasn’t very elaborate, but more a minimalist plain backdrop that will be creatively used as an artist’s canvas in which clever imagery and video will be used to tell the story we were about to witness. Think Madonna’s ‘Drowned World Tour’. Think Pet Shop Boys ‘Nightlife Tour’ if you were lucky enough to see those epic stage productions. If you are sat in the first five rows, be warned, the pyros alone could make you see stars for a minute or so after they explode.
Darren looks amazing as does the entire band and backing vocalists Iain James and Anna Maria La Spina. Futuristic yet comfortable black outfits with symmetrical neon strips that make you think – hmmm, which fashionista did Darren befriend to come up with this great costumery? ‘Who Would Have Thought’ and ‘Waking The Monster’ are delivered with precision as we see Darren singing from a stool in a gigantic library – perhaps learning all about the time machine he has found and dusting it off to take us on trip in ‘How To Build A Time Machine’ – one of the best numbers of the night and still one of our favourite songs on ‘Delicate’.
In ‘Neverland’ we have traveled back in time into Darren’s childhood where he is happily playing with his mates in a cleverly choreographed piece. But just like the song, this number speaks to how eerie a child’s mind can work in secret. Is he fantasizing about killing his father and living in a world where the monstrosity of abuse doesn’t exist? After seeing this number performed live and listening to it about 500 more times, we feel rather daft about our comments on the song previously. We do hope you’ll forgive us…this song really does give us the chills now.
‘Insatiable’ is done in the intimate acoustic arrangement fans have been treated to this last summer during Club Delicacy and as one of Darren’s most notable hits, everyone in the Dome is humming along joyously. ‘On The Verge Of Something Wonderful’ is met with crazy screams and the Dome is bouncing around just like the song. The biggest surprise of the night was Darren’s re-invention of ‘The Best Thing’ from his Savage Garden days which is full of juicy electronic bits that make the song feel shiny, fresh and new. Darren is proud of his little re-invention of one of his classics of yesteryear and it made us wish that Darren will put out an album or EP of Savage Garden hits re-worked by Justin Shave…shall it include ‘Carry On Amedeus’ and ‘Void/All Is Full Of Love’? We thinks we should pester Darren to do this…for isn’t a good idea? Sorry we digress, after this short fantasy, we are reminded to keep watching the show as surprisingly ‘Listen All You People’ is performed. This song works really well live in it’s anthematic delivery and we had a little chuckle when Darren pointed to himself during the ‘all the freaks, all the queers’ lyric. How cute.
In the second arc of the show things start to go a bit dark in ‘The Only One’ and ‘Void’ and perhaps we are in the time machine re-visiting Darren’s darker period from ‘The Tension And The Spark’. ‘Darkness’ was stunning and it even is re-invented with the beat from Prince’s ‘When Doves Cry’ which will make any 80’s electronica junkie shiver and quiver with excitement before launching into a perfectly planted ‘Step Into The Light’. The fact that Darren put those two songs back-to-back in the setlist totally fulfilled an EQ fantasy…wowX100!
During ‘I Like The Way’ Darren gets closer and intimate with the audience as the very cool man-movable steel bridge gets stretched out into the Dome and Darren takes a seat high amongst the crowd and looks down at a fan and says, "Well you have a mighty fine seat don’t ya!"
We are going to pause our boom box right here and deliver part 2 very soon…stay bookmarked and enjoy the little piccys taken by legend Willie Williams who designed the production and for whom his work with Darren and U2 is beyond amazing…just wait until you read about part 2 and see our snaps in the next installment and if you haven’t bought tickets for next Wednesday’s show at the Royal Albert Hall, you need to stop what you are doing and buy them now.