If the honing of one’s craft is the mark of a good craftsman, then it is safe to say it’s fast becoming evident the combined trades of Phil Slabber, Leon Debaughn and Liam Merrett-Park are in danger of approaching that of masterful, just as this particularly encapsulating Crooked Colours performance at The Forum Theatre Melbourne would damningly imply.
But not before kicking off the evening’s proceedings with the anthemic musings of the Gerringong-based Pacific Avenue, and escalating into an ever commanding and charismatic performance courtesy of powerhouse sister duo Kinder.
It’s then that the house lights of the hauntingly supernatural Forum Theatre dim, three silhouettes take centre stage, and we aren’t through a single piece before it’s immediately evident not just how tightly rehearsed, but equally delegated performance duties are covered across all members. Debaughn’s attentions are traded off between textured keystrokes and bass-guitar licks from track to track, as Slabber effortlessly juggles vocal and synth responsibilities while even casually diving from out behind the keys armed with a microphone to rally the crowd. And all throughout furious BPMs and relentless multi-track mixes not a single beat skipped by the incredibly enduring accuracy of Merrett Park.
A most welcome attribute of the performance by far is just how refreshingly self-aware the trio have become of their discography, ducking and weaving a tapestry of not only crowd favourites such as the progressive ‘I’ll Be There’ and the more recent fan-favourite ‘Falling’, but also cult cuts the likes of brooding, bass-thumper ‘Show Me’ and the eclectically wonky ‘I Hope You Get It’, the latter of which’s vocals where most courteously provided by Ivan Ooze in the flesh. It has been an inherit strength of the group since day one to effortlessly make a short amount of time feel like much, much more with the sheer amount of discography they pack in, and here is no exception.
One after the other, a slew of welcome surprises culminate in perhaps the evening’s most unexpected highlight in a live cover of Jamie xx’s iconic rendition of The xx’s own 2017 chart-topper ‘On Hold’. It’s a refreshingly self-aware exchange of both poise and vulnerability that indulges in not only the confidence that comes with careful refinement but also tactful experimentation.
Which is to speak perhaps most fittingly to the band’s journey thus far. It’s not a complete overhaul from what the boys have been dishing up since the release of the attention-grabbing 2017 full-length debut ‘Vera’ that put them on the map, but it’s tasteful if not wholeheartedly mature curation of not mere compositions but raw talents of the trio as a whole, delivering a precursory experience greater than the sum of its parts.