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Gig Review: Gotye

The Grammy nominated pop sensation ends his two-year-long tour with a show in the capital

Varun Goswami Feb 11, 2013
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Photo: Shatabdi Chakrabarti

February 6th, Blue Frog, Delhi: After two years of non-stop touring, singer-songwriter Wouter “Wally” De Backer, better known by his stagename Gotye, stopped by at Blue Frog, Delhi for a spectacular tour closer. Fresh off scoring three Grammy nominations, including one for record of the year, the electro-pop artist showcased his quirky musical repertoire that far exceeded his famous four-minutes of global pop dominance.

When Gotye stepped in with his five-member setup, the band chose “The Only Way” from his sophomore album Like Drawing Blood to open the show. Bobbing baselines kept things pacey, but it was the closing of this track that set a precedent for the rest of the show. Gotye, widely known for his vocal prowess, took on percussion duties. Frantic cymbal work, rapid fire rolls and sudden bursts of energy punctuated the steady drumming of the original track with magical precision.

Up next was “What Do You Want?” from his 2003 debut Broadface, which stood out from the band’s setlist for the evening, featuring lush textures, a myriad of samples ranging from haunting xylophones and tremolos and a huge surf guitar on slapback echo and massive reverb. Together,  the arrangement sounded every bit like the soundtrack to an exotic Bond adventure from the Eighties.

The straight out rock ’n roll on “Easy Way Out” from the Grammy-nominated Making Mirrors turned it around into an effortless, groove-heavy piece that finally got the audience going. But the band was soon back to doing what they do best. Strange, beautiful electro-pop trickery.  A hard-to-imagine yet crafty mix of Peter Gabriel, Kraftwerk, and Fleetwood Mac [yes Fleetwood Mac!] followed, giving the show a series of quirky nuggets ranging from a set of ballads sung in husky whispers over hushed melodies.

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Then came the all-too-familiar notes from the metallophone. Few know this odd instrument, but everyone knows the tune it triggers. Gotye introduced his 2012 monster hit, “Somebody That I Used To Know” and said to his audience: “Here’s something you can help us with. Specially the ladies.” The multi-instrumentalist’s performance earned a few hundred smiles when the microphone and all the stage lights, shifted focus onto the audience for all of Kimbra’s parts in the song. The musical nuances on the song gave its live version a twist that the recording sadly lacks. The track was sung in unison by his fans, many of whom had braved afterwork traffic for just this moment.

But the show was far from over. A significant part of the audience seemed well versed with the man’s vast and varied catalog.  Not only did the mention of Making Mirrors get a massive audience roar, even the introduction of its B-side “Dig Your Own Hole” got a round of anticipatory applause.

Gotye was in a good mood. He broke into the solemn “Bronte”, with a sarcastic introduction about writing songs on losing people. A few soulful shorties later, the band came back for a high-energy encore which began with a minor glitch. “My God! We’ve been doing this for two years, but this is the first time our computer has crashed!”  As the crowd laughed with a bunch of murmured welcome-to-India jokes, Gotye ripped into the three-song encore. The first was a standout jam featuring a whistle harmonica, autorickshaw blowhorns and even a rubber duck; or as Gotye claimed “the star of tonight’s proceedings.” The other two were peppy jams in the key of Huey Lewis, complete with a crowd-sourced chorus featuring men on baritone and the ladies on treble.

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With a packed house in attendance and people filling not just the club but its adjoining courtyard where the show was being screened on a giant screen, Gotye gave Delhi a glimpse of his hard-to-slot brand of music, and proof of just how much he deserves that Record of the Year award at the Grammys.

Key Tracks: “What Do You Want?”, “Eyes Wide Open”, “Hearts A Mess”, “Bronte”, “Somebody That I Used To Know”

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