THE FORTITUDE MUSIC HALL
FRIDAY, AUGUST 26
Long before Beyoncé, Drake and the upper echelon of the mainstream were digging deep to see what era they could rip from next, Brisbane's very own party starters Confidence Man were already years deep into reinventing the wheel with their own blend of dance and classic club music. They've been successful at it too, touring around the world (when permitted) and slowly but surely they've been conquering Europe. Now on tour on home turf, they get a chance to show off what can only be described as their big festival stage show for large rooms, that the group somehow manage to dwarf and make feel super intimate.
The sounds of 'Toy Boy' emerge from the darkness in a dazzling explosion of lights and sound and front-weapons Janet Planet and Sugar Bones swan onto stage, robotic Frankenstein movements with oversized suits a la Start Making Sense. Seamlessly and with a quick wardrobe change, the likes of 'Out The Window' and 'Woman' quickly follow. There's so much going on on stage - Sugar and Janet are consummate front people and the energy, moves and choreography are relentless. One can feel exhausted just watching the work they put into their stage craft.
It's obvious they've done their homework on underground club and classic dance from the late 1980's and early 1990's, and they pass all exams with flying colours. They understand music and the art of onstage movement and stage craft like no one else in the country currently. They do derive various cues from elsewhere, but rather than directly borrow, they accumulate something of an early '90's posturing greatest hits when speed-dealer sunnies, and the classic after-party were just the norm. The likes of Madonna and Primal Scream are in there somewhere, as are moves from Dee
-Lite, a Janet laugh sample, flashing boob cones and lots of various nameless/faceless former heroes. None of this is a slight against Confidence Man, on the contrary, they're too young to have experienced this first hand. The fact that they can so accurately encapsulate these times and attract such a huge cross-section of ages, shapes and sizes takes cleverness, understanding and deep-rooted talent.
Plus, songs! They now have a hefty 90 minute set of back-to-back hits and anthems-in-the-making. It's an embarrassment of riches which the band pull off with aplomb. While the front two are the main visual focus of the show (seriously, where do we look), the mysterious and cloaked Clarence McGuffie and Reggie Goodchild hold down the soundtrack for the whole shin-dig, effortlessly playing instrumentals like the excellent 'Flute Song' and 'Trumpet Song' while the other two have outfit changes. It's a ridiculously honed show that doesn't miss a beat and flows better than some global pop megastars we've witnessed in the past.
Songs like 'Does It Make You Feel Good' and 'Feels Like A Different Thing' might be obvious highlights, but their live renditions are absolute monsters, clearly made sizeable by all the festival touring of late. 'Luvin You Is Easy' is a highlight as is 'Angry Girl' which shifts the vibe slightly. Debut single 'Boyfriend (Repea
t)' holds its own after all this time and gives the crowd a chance to participate and get down low on the floor. The recent single 'Holiday' is fast becoming their signature song, having played it on Later ... With Jools Holland, and its massive synth hits are perfect as the show's finale. Weirdly, this is a song that could probably begin a show as effectively as it can finish it. Screams from the crowd coax one more from the band - 'Relieve
The Pressure' - but it isn't necessary really - we've already seen and heard the best from them and are satisfied.
Confidence Man are an utter revelation for live music coming out of this country. They are phenomenal and don't "aim for bronze" (as an American music industry guy once commented on Aussie performers), they go for gold! With a show that includes gags and a whole lot of cheese, nothing they do falls into the wrong side of naff - it's all absolutely perfect.