LIVE REVIEW: Phoenix

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Phoenix live at The Forum Monday 26th February
Media passes provided by publicists
Words by India Weaver

It has been a long 4 years since French electro pop-rockers Phoenix blessed Australia with their energy and coolness. The Forum housed an overly excited audience who all held a mutual, undying desire to get ‘Tuttifrutti’ on the dance floor. Support act, Cleopold, used his minimalist set up and tranquillising sound in an attempt to lull the audience. Sadly, the excitement of those anticipating the Parisian pop-rock princes overtook the performance.

‘Sadly, the excitement of those anticipating the Parisian pop-rock princes overtook the performance’

In line with France’s passion for fashion, the band were fashionable late by 6 minutes. But Phoenix wasted not a second more, hitting their set off with their latest crowd favourite ‘J-Boy’, the first single of their latest album release, Ti Amo. This was just a warm up for the boogying to come. The group immediately transitioned into career defining tracks ‘Lasso’ and ‘Entertainment’, continuing to take the audience down the wonderfully suave black hole of their discography. ‘Lisztomania’ was a crowd favourite, not a soul resisted participation, except lead singer Thomas Mars, who let the audience take the mic for this one.  

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As the iconic beat of ‘Ti Amo’ crept in, the audience knew it was time to unleash their best moves yet. No one was still. All around me legs, wheelchairs and arms were synchronised as they moved back and forth with the music.

There was something about the band’s relationship with the crowd that was unique. Phoenix’s sophisticated and chic facade never dropped, but somehow they were able to match their performance to the enthusiasm of the audience; egging them on as they did so. This was further encouraged by the extensive amount of time Mars spent immersed in the audience. Spotlight on and mic in hand, he was armed to make ‘If I Ever Feel Better’ feel like a conversation with the crowd.

‘Phoenix’s sophisticated and chic facade never dropped, but somehow they were able to match their performance to the enthusiasm of the audience’

After a brief pause, the encore began and the crowd’s passionately loud chorus returned. Phoenix took Melbourne back to ‘1901’ before filling the venue with nostalgia for a time when they were ‘Trying To be Cool’. I was transported back to when I first heard Phoenix as a 12 year old; discovering the Top 40 was awful and French alt-pop was ace. Some expressed these throwbacks and more with imperfectly pitched karaoke, others, with ugly happy sobs.

‘I was transported back to when I first heard Phoenix as a 12 year old; discovering that the Top 40 was awful and French alt-pop was ace’

The unlikely hero of the show was guitarist, Christian Mazzalai. He sung every word to every single song. Microphoneless. His passion was contagious and earned him my vote for Best on Ground.

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But the move of the day goes to Mars, who redefined the conventions of crowd surfing.  What has previously been perceived as a rock n’ roll cliché, became an overly polite affair. Mars used the power of the people to thank the people. He worked his way around the perimeter of The Forum expressing his thanks to an audience in awe. Rather than attempting to rip his clothes off, the audience held an unexpressed agreement where he would only be patted.

A quick google search defines a phoenix as ‘a person or thing regarded as uniquely remarkable in some respect’. But Phoenix are remarkable in every respect. From the passion, to the gratitude and the all-round coolness, Phoenix are in a remarkable league of their own.