Live: The Presets
Melbourne's Festival Hall sure has its ups and downs as a venue (some shows great, others strangely bereft of heart); so, being weary of the what-will-happen-next factor is definitely normal.
Venue acoustics aside, the fact that some security personal can be a bit too empowered by, er, the power to ID people into an all-ages area, is itself patently ridiculous.
Even with that, and aside from having to be pat down by an officious party cop before being let in, once one was finally inside Festival Hall, you could tell straight away, simply from the lighting set up, that the show was definitely going to be worth the dollars.
It’s a little past 9.30 when the duo everyone was there to see stride onstage, all to a portentous, ringing synth/string intro; singer, Julian Hamilton, introducing the set with a good, old-fashioned “G'day”.
The first song on the bill is, nicely enough, one of their number one hits, the brilliant ‘Talk Like That’. The Presets are on fire, technical difficulties at the start don't even come close to ruining the crowd’s atmospheric relationship with the band and their music.
Primarily playing tracks from their second record, ‘Apocalypso’, for most of the first half of their 90-minute set, including songs ‘Yippiyo-Ay’, ‘A New Sky’ and instrumental track, ‘Aeons’, The Presets prove they’re all the better as a live experience.
But, it must be said, when they remix possibly their biggest track, ‘Are You The One?’, into some sort of heavy acid-dance club mix, I can’t but feel their set peaks a little early. After this - and this is only at the halfway mark, mind you - it doesn’t get much better than ‘Are You The One?’ The crowd jump to the beat like soldiers, Festival Hall's speaker system barely keeps up with the humungous bass and this reinvented edition of the track is, in the simplest of terms, perfect.
The crowd had also headed to Festival Hall with the hope of hearing some new Preset tracks, hearing rumour upon rumour, that this would be the night that some new tracks would emerge from Pandora's Box for the first time. Sadly, nothing new was paraded for the masses. The closest was a short intro for ‘Apocalypso's’ opening track, ‘Kicking and Screaming’, an oddly melodic and calm intro with Julian singing through a Vocoder.
I dearly hope this wasn’t a sneak peak at The Presets new direction and nothing but a mere experimental introduction. What came to mind, sadly, were rap acts such as Kanye West (on his latest release), and, gulp, T-Pain.
After mixing straight from ‘Kicking and Screaming’ into ‘My People’, the duo left the stage - surprise, surprise! - only to return minutes later for a much-squealed-for encore. Hamilton then announces (something along the lines of), “It's good enough just being in this band, but then it’s people like you who seem to be able to make it much, much better!” before thundering into ‘Apocalpso's’ trance-like closer, ‘Anywhere’, the only song to that point they’d not played from their latest release.
This humble scribe’s personal favourite, live Presets tune, seems to be the band’s favourite, as they end the night with (the fitting), ‘I Go Hard, I Go Home’. Sadly though, they’ve definitely played it better in the past. This was the first show at Festival Hall, however, and with three attempts to get it right, there’s no reason to doubt that, by the end of the run, their performance will be perfect. It’s the kind of band they are.