Friday, 9 March 2012

Toto, I Don't Think We're In 1997 Anymore...

Aqua (08/03/2012)
Live at The Hi-Fi, Brisbane.
Supported by: Radio INK and DJ Harry K

"How was Aqua?" This was a text I received at 8:08 this morning. My reply? "Equal parts amazing, hilarious, baffling and awful." Awful is too strong a word, but the general sentiment of that mini-review rings true. Expectations for Aqua were incredibly high following the success of the Vengaboys return to Australia and I was expecting the Danish superstars to recapture the glitz and glamour of bubblegum pop that dominated the charts when I was all but ten years old.

As we walked into the Hi-Fi, support act Radio INK had already taken the stage. Full of energy, the Sydney based act rocketed through an... enthusiastic... set that featured shameless name dropping of Aqua, Brisbane, a 'Make Some Noise' sign, a failed attempt to get the upper level crowd motivated and an... unwise... cover of The Police's 'Roxanne.' They score buckets of points for stage presence though and on any other night, I might have been slightly more interested. You know who else could have been slightly more interested? DJ Harry K. Stop texting and start mixing some songs. This ain't Fluffy. K essentially iTunesed some Rihanna and some Minaj and then it was finally time for the Scandinavian's to take the stage.

With rabid fans chanting their name, Aqua took to the stage and promptly began to... rock out? Claus plays the guitar? There's a drummer in Aqua? Who are those other guys on the guitar? Why does that guitarist have glitter in his amazing beard? Lead singer and total babe Lene is dressed like she's about to hit up Soundwave. Evidently this wasn't to be the glitz and glam I was expecting. The ten year old in me was disappointed. The music fan I have grown into was kinda impressed. Aqua, the rock band. Who would have thought? A performance in line with the camp, lip-synched, ridiculous and amazing mess that was the Vengaboys was pretty much everything I thought this show would be. Instead, the crowd got an extremely well put together LIVE performance from a fun pop-rock dance band that apparently likes to dabble in house music.

Don't get me wrong, this wasn't just a showcase for Aqua's new 'edgier' outlook on life. All the big hits were there. 'Dr Jones,' 'Cartoon Heroes,' 'Barbie Girl' and 'Around the World' brought the fun and 'Turn Back Time' still stands a fantastic ballad. New tracks 'Like A Robot' and 'Viva Las Vegas' may have made me laugh out loud, but I'll let you listen to them so you understand why. Aqua also decided to break it on down with 'Lollipop (Candyman),' asking the crowd, "do you like house music?" and then bringing in that whole doof doof thing. You should have said dubstep, Rene. That's what the kids are into these days. Speaking of Dr. Jones himself, Rene Dif, was treated like a rock god. Female fans squealed with delight every time his deep, dulcet tones came through the sound system. He also embraced one fan's bra and by embraced I mean he put it down his pants, gave it a couple of good rubs and gave it back to the obviously desperate delighted skank lady. His true highlight was the sneaky, classy and completely appropriate 'two in the pink, one in the stink' hand gesture.

After some time to think, I can safely say that Aqua put on a memorable and fun show. It wasn't the show I thought I was going to see, but what Aqua gave us was probably even better. The crowd reaction was phenomenal, the band was gracious and entertaining, making banter with those in attendance after practically every song. Just because I couldn't understand/hear the majority of what they were saying doesn't mean it wasn't entertaining. There was something about the crowd being Lene's mother and she's the rebellious daughter... that was baffling. That's why I said baffling in my mini-review this morning. Weird, baffling, weird. Performance wise they can't be faulted, the band plays well together and the vocal abilities of the beautiful Lene were a million times better than what anyone would have been expecting. When you're expecting someone to lip-sync, I guess getting anything live is better than what you were expecting, but her voice really was great.

Would I go see Aqua again? I highly doubt it, but I'm happy I did and if you ever get the chance to, you should! It's a lot of fun, but more of a 'once is enough' deal. I also think this ends my desire to head to any show featuring a bubblegum pop act from the 90s. Sorry S Club and Eiffel 65. I think I'll just listen to your CD's instead. Not that I own any of them. Haha yeah...

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