Darren Hayes made an impressive return to the Australian stage last night on Melbourne. On the back of his newly released Secret Codes and Battleships LP, he made the new songs instant singalong classics. The set was stunning – featuring pictures from his album artwork – balloons, birds, hearts and geometric shapes.
He entered the stage to dramatic opener, Taken By the Sea caring an umbrella, lit up with deep purple. Like a pop star Mary Poppins, complete with Tai Chi moves to the music. Mesmorising.
Current single Bloodstained Heart saw him sing powerfully, reaching high notes. At one point he handed the microphone over to the audience, to sing along to the woahs.
And he shed a tear, thanking the audience for sticking by him, humbled by the loyalty and sellout show.
Darren Hayes fans are very loyal, proving this by a queue snaking around the Forum most of the way up Hosier Lane. The crowd was a mixed bunch – screaming women – young and old, husbands, the gay community, and in front of me, a six year old girl whose week couldn’t get any better after seeing Darren and Janet Jackson – twice!
Old favorites, some not heard in years – live or on the radio – were played. To the moon and back had the familiar radio intro, Break Me Shake Me was mashed up with Billie Jean, and Darren sang The Animal Song, citing the lyrics as silly but fun. The classic Savage Garden songs energized the crowd, it was like old times.
His new stuff was just as powerful. Talk Talk Talk provided danceability, Don’t Give Up, Black Out the Sun and Stupid Mistake were wonderful.
Darren also juxtaposed the theatrical with the natural – changing jackets and applying makeup behind a dressing screen, coming out with blue flashing glasses to Pop!ular mixed with Bros’ When will I be Famous?. And then he performed a rare We Are Smug (side project from 2009) song Hot Tub Blues, languishing drunkly over a chair, cheekbones accentuated with makeup and lips like The Joker.
After this alter ego fueled performance, he was at his most natural, most vulnerable, removing his makeup in front of a light frame, singing an almost a-capella I Don’t Know You Anymore. Hauntingly beautiful.
But it was the finale, The Siren’s Call, right after Truly Madly Deeply, that moved me the most. It is one of the most beautiful songs he has written.
Being at the Darren Hayes concert reminded me of the times I’d seen Savage Garden as a teenager. No worries, no cares. Darren was the only thing that mattered to me in the world. His lyrics are so relateable. I too cried a little, so moved by merely being at the concert, and thinking about how most songs on Secret Codes and Battleships could have been written about my life these past five months. I cried during Talk Talk Talk and also in To the Moon and Back, when he looked my way and smiled that beautiful smile.
The show was supported by indie act and twitter darling, Brendan Maclean – a camp, costumed singer, performing originals and jazz versions Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. After the show I met Brendan and he recognized me from Twitter and Mama Mia. We had a photo, me in his sparkle jacket.
Darren Hayes setlist
Taken By the Sea
Talk Talk Talk
To the Moon and Back
Don’t Give Up
The Animal Song
Black Out the Sun
Break Me Shake Me/Bille Jean mashup
Popular/When Will I be Famous
Hot Tub Blues – We are Smug
I don’t know you anymore
Crush/Spin/A DJ Saved My Life/Music
Truly Madly Deeply
The Siren’s Call