Crowded House wrote of always taking the weather with you, which is a romantic thought, that you can somehow take your environment with you on your travels, therefore negating any feelings of homesickness. Some have said that it’s actually means the opposite, and they were talking about the feeling of coming home after a long tour, and the feeling of readjusting to regular life. If it’s the former, then Tourist would be feeling right at home as he definitely brought a slice of London to Australia with him for the Australian leg of his world tour. I’d previously caught glimpses of him at Days Like This the weekend before, and it was definitely more reminiscent of a dreary London day rather than a sunny Sydney day coming off a sweltering summer. That day I had only caught a handful of minutes, but didn’t want to taint my Tourist experience, as I knew I would be treated to a much more intimate set that week at the Oxford Art Factory (OAF).
OAF is one of the great bastions of music in Sydney, hosting everyone from Dillon Francis to Flight Facilities, its seen a Boiler Room night and even hosted Lady Gaga’s first Australian show when it was nigh on 1 year old. The place is known for its ability to host a good night and I had no doubt that one would be given. Arriving about 15 minutes into the opening gig Dena Amy, it was still a little empty which is always a little disappointing. There’s something to be said for supporting the warm up acts, and there’s nothing harder than supplying a great warm up set. I’ll admit, I’d never heard of Dena, but after the set she threw down, she’s most definitely on my radar now. She put on one of the best warm-up sets I can remember, showing her range early on throwing down Chemical Brothers new track ‘Got to Keep on’ in between deep disco cuts of Cerrone and others that I couldn’t place. She had an amazing stage presence; showing her love for the tracks she was playing she swayed from side to side, expertly navigating the various BPMs she weaved between. She was working the crowd into a lather with ‘Opal’ by Bicep before finishing the set, fittingly, with one of her own productions, Jol. It has since made its way into my regular rotation, and I will definitely make the effort to see her again. Also, I found out afterwards that she’s in Dance Academy? I had no idea.
By the point Dena Amy had finished up, OAF was starting to fill to capacity. The drinks lines were winding into the edges of the crowd, and there was a vibe of anticipation in the air. Before long, Tourist (real name William Phillips) appeared on stage, approaching his set up calmly but with purpose. As the set began, you immediately felt the level of dedication and connection that he to his music. He’s not one to flail about, amping the crowd up verbally, he let his music do the talking for him, and so began an amazing conversation between artist and crowd. In preparation for this gig, I had made sure to listen to his whole back catalogue, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. When listening at home, even loudly through good headphones, his music seems beautifully gentle, often delicate. Live in an intimate setting, the individual elements really come out and have such a different impact. The percussion was crispy, the bass was heavy, and before long the crowd heaved to his every turn. There were still some melancholy moments, such as when ‘For Sarah’ was played (I even saw a few couples either embrace or slow dance during this song), but overall the mood was joyous. There were some singalongs to ‘I Can’t Keep Up’ and ‘Holding Up’, some genuine throw down moments and some goosebump moments with the aid of the expert lighting by the OAF crew. He seemed like a very humble guy, jumping on the mic at the end to thank the crowd, also expressing that he sells more tickets here than in Manchester which was surprising. But after the performance he gave, it’s not difficult to see why he’s fast become a favourite here (Sydney was one of two sold out shows in Australia). He left to rousing applause, off to Brisbane and then Singapore, before flying home. If a little bit of rain is the price to pay to see his talents, I have a poncho you can have.