A very pleasant drive from Berwickshire to Edinburgh and onwards to Glasgow enabled us to appreciate some wonderful Scottish lowland scenery under a beautifully clear and expansive sky as we excitedly anticipated experiencing Australian Gotye in concert. Listening to the chart show as we travelled west along the M8, we arrived before hearing confirmation that ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ had held onto its number one spot for another week.
We arrived before the Box Office opened so had time to relax and savour an excellent Chinese buffet meal. One of the best that I’ve ever had.
At the venue (O2 ABC) the queue went down relatively quickly, and after having a bag of sweets confiscated by security, we were soon in the converted cinema, standing under the gigantic glitter ball and waiting for things to get started. I have to say that I was rather unsure what to expect, having only ever (to my knowledge) having heard the number one single previously. In fact I was only there because somebody else had found themselves unable to attend and I was offered the ticket in return for providing the transport. The gig had originally been scheduled for Oran Mor but due to increased interest following recent success had been re-located to a larger venue. So it was that a rather bewildered looking young lady appeared at the front of the stage and started to sing, accompanied by her guitar. After prompting, she introduced herself as Louise, who usually plays with a band (afraid I didn’t catch the name). She switched to ukelele and then banjo, before ending her set back on guitar. Somebody alongside me described her as twee, which I suppose was fair comment; nevertheless she played and sang competently and I was certainly glad that I had been able to hear her gentle and varied set of original songs. Before her final number she helped to add to the good mood in the room when she relayed a proposal from a member of the audience to another Louise – she said yes and the room gave a rousing burst of applause.
Born Wouter De Backer, the name ‘Gotye’ is derived from ‘Gaultier’, the French equivalent of ‘Wouter’ (‘Walter’ in English); he is a multi-instramentalist and singer-songwriter. Despite following on from a solo musician, the stage crew took a while to check set up before the lights dimmed and the crowd roared as Gotye and supporting musicians arrived on stage. The back wall was lit by the overhead projector and we were treated to marvellous panoramic ‘big sky’ vistas as a backdrop to the opening number, ‘Eyes Wide Open’.
One of the things that I had established about Gotye beforehand was that he is Belgian/Australian and it was clear to pick up definite themes of aboriginal tribal rhythms and motifs. The positioning of one set of drums front and centre, alongside some other percussion instruments, and with another drum kit at the rear of the stage did suggest that rhythm would feature strongly, and the rack of around ten various guitars looked intriguing; I wasn’t disappointed. The set progressed through am intriguing variety of numbers that spanned a wide range of styles, leading to a rendition of the current number one hit. The single features a guest vocalist from New Zealand, Kimbra, who wasn’t appearing so the audience helped to fill the gap. All too soon the set was over, having ended with an extremely quiet, low key number called Bronte during which a couple of audience members started to wave lit cigarette lighters!
They did, however, return eventually for an encore, during which they played three numbers that actually sounded rather different to the foregoing numbers, more upbeat, almost ‘poppy’ with less of a tribal feel – at least until the real finale, which featured a mesmerising drum duet that left us absolutely stunned! I was also quite pleased that Phil hadn’t been able to make use of his ticket, making it available to be offered to me and enabling me to spend an excellent evening in the company of Colleen and Ellen.
The Glasgow gig marked the end of Gotye’s time in the UK and looking at the website it seems that all forthcoming ones in USA and Canada are sold out except one venue at the time of writing this! With a growing number of awards to his name, things are most definitely looking up for Gotye and I have a feeling that any return to the UK will require much bigger venues to be booked.