When Elton John claims your record is the best he’d heard in the last ten years, you could either be: 1) Walking on a dream, or 2) Sydney synthpop duo Empire of the Sun.
Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore have more than heavy chains, a gold Fender Stratocaster, scintillating sequin getups and colossal headdresses to boast. They also have an entourage of seriously dedicated dancers (one of whom Luke claims is “from another planet”) who had countless costume changes in one night.
Ever had a schoolmate whom you’d never seen repeat an outfit all semester? It’s like watching exactly that happen before your eyes, except compressed into a 120-minute time frame.
But no, not even a tutu worn around the neck or chair backrest strapped onto their heads (we could’ve sworn), full-body or metallic latex suits could distract us from the sheer euphoria that electrified the Fort Canning open air.
You’d think watching their performances on Youtube – evocative of a fiesta raining torrents of holographic confetti – was quite something to take in. But being there, immersed in zingy electronic glam rock numbers alongside some 2,000 other pairs of flailing arms… THAT was some other thing.
Needless to say, after five years of continuous touring, EOTS was real tight with the addition of Tony Mitolo on the drums. There was little to fault about Steele’s gusty vocoded singing despite all that tearing across the stage (may we remind you, heavy chains), and familiar hits like We Are The People and Walking On A Dream drove the crowd absolutely hysterical.
That guy! That lethargic candyskull guy who stood seven feet tall and was periodically blasting fume at nothing in particular. Where can we apply for this job?
If you find yourself ever so oft jaded by the daily grind and simply want to drop everything and dance, an Empire gig would be the place to be. The hype is so overwhelming live, it’ll rid all your existential anxiety like it did ours.
Though there did come a tipping point to all the unpredictable heart-thumping excitement, the band brought us all to a soft landing with the poignant ballad Without You. Indeed, “no slow there is no fast” as the tempo picked up once more and soared with lead single Alive.
Guess all’s well that ends well. We can’t say the same for the guitar (thankfully/logically not the Strat) that Steele smashed to smithereens as a close to the most phenomenal night ever lived.
Then again, whatevs. He’s Emperor.
Empire of the Sun is the first act of The Gathering, a new live music series launched by Forefront Asia. Stay tuned to The Gathering’s Facebook page for news on gigs coming up this year.