I wasn’t expecting SAFIA to have changed their set so much in 4 months but I was lucky enough to be taken on a whole new adventure!
Let’s cut to the chase. We saw SAFIA just four months ago, and we’ve interviewed them recently too. It’s clear that the art felicis crew are fans but we’ve seen it all before… right? Wrong! Friday’s show at Hobart’s Odeon Theatre had so many new touches that I was blown away. I’m going to tell you why seeing SAFIA just once is nowhere near enough.
Playing off its current popularity, the boys from Canberra opened with their newest single, ‘My Love Is Gone’. Like their Secret Venues shows, each song was accompanied by artsy or futuristic graphics, but they’d been updated since last time. We had colours and geometry, glowing stone statues, acorns and autumn leaves, and so much more. It only took until their second song, ‘Make Them Wheels Roll’, for the crowd to be clapping along and the first guitar solo to be broken out.
The highlight came early (although there were many close seconds to come) in the form of ‘Counting Sheep’. It’s far from my favourite song but the performance makes it. Ben starts with a finger wag and some air violin, before filling the stage as he stomps around with authority. The accompanying visuals were something else, transitioning from the peaceful blue masked men to the sinister red, accompanying that same peaceful-to-sinister transition as the song goes from verse to chorus.
What they kept from their earlier shows was what had worked best. ‘Fake It Til The Sunrise’ had the same bop along before being instructed to “leap as high as you fucking can”. And the same strategies were used to own the crowd, telling us we were “one of the best crowds on the tour” to hype us up for ‘Listen To Soul, Listen To Blues’. We’ve heard it all before but when you do it right, like SAFIA do, it works.
There were some amazing new bits too. ‘Bye Bye’ transitioned very smoothly into ‘Feel Good Inc.’ by the Gorillaz (hype for their new album?!) and right back again. I was equally impressed by Ben stepping away from the keyboard and grabbing the electric guitar. That started a back-to-back-to-back of big songs with ‘Over You’, ‘Together, Locked Safely’, and the incredibly popular ‘Paranoia, Ghosts & Other Sounds’. To follow up those three, they finished the set telling us to “sing as fucking loud as you can” to ‘Take Me Over’. We did, and then some incredibly loud encore chants followed.
That was something else new. Last time, at Melbourne Meat Market, there was no encore. This time, ‘Zion’ started playing and I quickly realised that their last show’s opener worked even better to start the encore. We were very lucky to have a four song encore but ‘Embracing Me’ was the show stopper, garnering huge screams and creating so so much energy. ‘Go To Waste’ had Ben fill the stage so much that he collapsed on his back to finish the song. And finally, the icing on the cake, SAFIA finished with their closing track from Internal, ‘External’. It was the perfect closer and it really sums up that their sets are evolving for the better.
Hometown: Canberra, ACT
Latest Album: Internal, released 9 September 2016
Sounds like: Peking Duk, RÜFÜS
Say what? This was SAFIA’s first ever show in Hobart. The crowd was very much aware of this and screamed louder than I’ve heard a crowd in a long time.