LIVE REVIEW: Hayden James @ The Astor Theatre
'Twas a night of mixed feelings and questionable pairings, but above all, Hayden James prevailed.
Before we could get to the main course, we of course had some entrees to test our palates. (And tested, we were.)
Off the back of a divisive triple j Like A Version, support act Carmouflage Rose came swerving in boisterously with ’Wildflowers’ and ‘Late Nights’. At some point, the hypeman even launched himself into the crowd, who were absolutely devouring his performance. One thing’s for sure, the rapper holds an impressive stage presence — and it’s one that is hard to ignore.
However, one of the better moments of this performance was the surprise appearance of the ethereal George Maple, who joined Carmouflage Rose for his track ’Let Me Down’. Unfortunately for the latter, it was George Maple’s angelic voice that took much more precedence in the Astor Theatre.
Sauntering in after a half hour’s wait was Hayden James himself, the man behind a nearly sold-out homecoming tour. Now let's get this straight; amongst the producers signed to Future Classic and/or those constantly played on repeat on triple j, Hayden James has always been the anomaly. From collaborating with GRAACE to Boy Matthews on his originals, the Sydneysider sure deserves commendable praise for giving up-and-coming singers the platform to amplify their voice.
Yet, it really is so much more than that. In essence, it's the pure human connection that oozes from Hayden James' catchy yet hard-hitting tunes that drive an atmosphere. From ‘Just a Lover’ to ‘Permission To Love’, the genuineness in his live music is clear as day. Not to mention, with backdrop visuals shifting from starry night skies to dramatic sunsets, it was a creative way to cement the wonder of the night.
With flawless electronic beats right on par with the likes of Flume, the Sydneysider was accompanied by Digby Robinson on guitar and mystery vocalist Surahn (who had truthfully looked like he'd hopped on for an after-hours karaoke session). However, these overly-contrasting vocals didn't detract from Hayden James' set — but rather, found itself trying to compete with an already perfect soundscape.
Some notable mentions? 2013 breakthrough track ‘Embrace’ found its way to the spotlight, with hints of ‘Something About You’ skilfully woven into a killer remix of ‘Innerbloom’ by RÜFÜS. As well as that, a remixed rendition of ODESZA’s ’Say My Name’ was met with sheer joy.
Of course, no Hayden James show would be complete without ‘Numb’. His thrilling encore saw a teasing prelude into this very track, that — judging by the audience’s reaction — had held a special place in everyone’s hearts. Jumping along to each verse, the crowd went wild and took a few seconds to share the moment with those they had brought along.
Upon conclusion, the breathless producer took a final bow before heading backstage to take in the overwhelming support from his second show on tour.
As Hayden James claimed, "It’d been a while since [he had] ventured way out west." So Perth, I’m just so very glad we gave him something priceless to walk away with.