Nick Murphy, better known as Chet Faker, had one hell of a 2014. His chart-topping debut album, Built on Glass, was one of the albums of the year. To top it off, he had three songs in the top ten of the Hottest 100, including the number one, “Talk Is Cheap”. So, when I was given the opportunity to review him, rather than being frustrated by the very late notice (only finding out while at work on the day of the gig), I was brimming with excitement!
My first thoughts as I entered Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion for the first time were “holy shit this place is huge”, very quickly followed by a “holy shit this place is packed”. It was like a sauna, with so many bodies huddled together in the standing section and more piling in behind me. Anticipation was peaking as Chet Faker finally entered the stage, got behind the decks, and played “Cigarettes And Chocolate”.
The atmosphere created was electric. It was a mixture of a DJ set, with dope drops, and live instruments, creating an electronic masterpiece. He followed with “Melt” which got the crowd dancing and singing, then put on a lights show with some rocking drums and guitar to build into “Release Your Problems”. There was minimal stage talk in the early going but it wasn’t needed as Murphy let his music and captivating performance do the talking. From electronic, to funk, he really had it all. And when he covered Van Morrison’s “Moondance”, slowing it down to make it smooth and soulful, all the while turning the chorus into a slowmo house/dubstep spectacle, he proved that he could do no wrong.
Adding more and more elements to his already fascinating performance, Murphy looped his own voice, adding layers of harmony, in “To Me”. Afterwards, he acknowledged the crowd, his fans, addressing each section one-by-one and eliciting the loudest cheers from those standing. He talked to us about what it means to be an independent artist. “I write my own songs, I record them in my own studio that I put together myself. No guys in suits that think it’s all a science.” His adoring fans fucking loved it. And when he followed with the song that started it all four years ago, “No Diggity”, asking the crowd to put away their phones for just one song to have a dance, he really got us moving. He held out the microphone to the crowd and we all screamed along, at the top of our lungs, “Hey yo, hey yo, hey yo, hey yo!”
He transitioned into “Drop The Game”, keeping the buzz going, eliciting more movement and almost shouting as we sang along. Murphy continued to mix it up, going from dancing to intimate as he faded out “I’m Into You” and adding a Daft Punk-esque build up in “Blush”. My highlight came next with the sickest build up ever for “1998”, leading to massive cheers from the crowd. Huge onstage movement was followed by a thanks and Chet Faker leaving the stage.
You know the phrase “time flies when you’re having fun”? Never has it been truer than this night. When he walked off the stage, the build up to encore chants was more delayed than I’ve ever heard it. It wasn’t because people weren’t excited or didn’t want more, but because we were all genuinely surprised that the bulk of the show was already over. Non-stop energy and enjoyment made it feel like it had all gone by in a heartbeat. The cheering and stomping and chanting came soon enough and, when Chet Faker returned to the stage, it was time to continue the party.
“Cigarettes & Loneliness” was the perfect song for the encore. It’s long but upbeat and simple, with nice harmonies and moments for Murphy to skip and dance around the stage. His band jammed hard and then it was just him and the keys, giving us a super intimate finish. “Gold” gave us plenty of opportunity to keep on moving as it was played more upbeat and with more energy than usual, but it was one guy in the crowd that really made it interesting. He stood on his friend’s shoulders, took off his shirt and waved it around, then dropped his pants. Full frontal for Faker. Chet took it in stride with a smile on his face and our public nudist was quick to disappear back into the dense crowd before any security could appear.
Then there was one song left. A jazzy piano intro led into that super famous riff and the Hordern Pavilion went nuts. Huge cheers and wolf whistles filled the arena. “Talk Is Cheap” became a sing along with many in attendance nailing every lyric. Right before the last chorus, the music stopped and the crowd went nuts once more. “You guys know the words?” he asked us, leading into a booming rendition from the faithful punters. What a big moment.
And that was the end. He thanked us again and left the stage. People in the standing section started singing Sonia Dada’s “You Don’t Treat Me No Good” as others left around them, clearly disappointed that there was no rendition of the song he covered for Like A Version last year. Still, that was the only disappointment to come out of an otherwise flawless show. Keep doing what you’re doing, Chet Faker, because we fucking love you.
Hometown: Melbourne, Victoria
Latest Album: Built on Glass, released 11 April 2014
Sounds like: Flume, Alt-J, James Blake
Say what? The winners of the last two Hottest 100s, Chet Faker and Vance Joy went to school together. Not only that, they sang in the school choir together and lived in the same suburb!
Cigarettes And Chocolate
Release Your Problems
Love And Feeling
Moondance (Van Morrison Cover)
Drop The Game
I’m Into You
Cigarettes & Loneliness
Talk Is Cheap