It’s not often I’m blessed to see one of my favourite artists twice in a year but here I was at Sidney Myer Music Bowl, to see hometown hero Nick Murphy, aka Chet Faker. It’s only been 18 months since Built on Glass was released, but since then, Murphy has undergone a meteoric rise on the music scene, both locally and globally. Since playing a string of headline shows back home in February, Murphy has brought his multi-faceted act to sets at Glastonbury, Coachella, FYF, Lolapalooza, before coming back home for his Built on Live tour. For this run of shows, Murphy was determined to celebrate Built On Glass one more time, stating that “this tour is a last chance to put everything I’ve learned over the last few years into practice and see the songs played in their full capacity before I put the album to rest.” Statements like this are a testament to Murphy’s passion for creating, developing and exploring, always playing his tracks different from stage to stage. For that reason, a packed crowd and myself were eagerly anticipating a big set for Murphy’s return home.
Everyone was in a frenzy as Chet Faker took to the stage, possibly unable to believe the lack of facial hair on Murphy’s face, but all disbelief was put aside as Murphy launched into Built on Glass B-Side ‘Bend’. The tight groove laid down by drummer Sam Hirschfelder really gave the track a great live feel and was a perfect way to start the night. Joined on stage by a collection of back-up singers, Murphy continued on with Melt, with the crowd loudly rolling out the “O, O, Overdose”, and Murphy visibly ecstatic to be back home. Typically when a song is too stop-start, it can come across as disjointed but Release Your Problems created a sexy and soulful sense of tension that was absolute fire. Tracks like these really came alive with the presence of guest bass player Dave Harrington from Darkside, with his bass cutting through and adding significant weight to the instrumental section.
Jumping on the keys, Murphy took us back to older tracks ‘Love and Feeling’ and ‘I’m Into You’ that really showcased the distinctive tone that carried throughout the crowd, and had us all singing “ah do do do do do” with delight. Murphy then was asking the crowd if they had been before or if this was their first time with him, and the varying displays of hands highlighted a real diversity amongst the crowd. Younger faces could have been going to their first ever concert, Triple J diehards with their fedoras were aplenty and older soul fans were captivated with every tune, showing that Murphy’s music really hits everyone in different ways. The older members of the crowd would have definitely loved the Chet Faker spin on Carpenters tune ‘Close To You’, funkier than the original and featuring some amazing guitar licks.
The band and singers left the stage leaving Murphy all alone with his synths and pads, and when the familiar notes of ‘Cigarettes and Chocolates’ drifted into my ears, not going to lie, I lost my shit. Every live performance of this track is different, exploding in different ways, and Murphy literally lit up the bowl with this one. Lights going crazy, the drops huge, Murphy’s transition from crooning vocalist to world class DJ was brilliant, and is always a set highlight for me. The next song essentially started it all for Murphy, and to the dismay of the crowd, will apparently not be on the set list as much going forward. With that in mind, everyone belted out Blackstreet cover ‘No Diggity’ for what could have been a final time.
The crowd kept their voices up for Murphy’s collab with Flume ‘Drop the Game’, before the band came out to help do a very new take on Built on Glass banger ‘Blush’, which was again, fire. What followed was the huge single ‘1998’, before Marcus Marr came on stage to deliver the first live performance of ‘’The Trouble With Us’, off Murphy and Marr’s upcoming EP Work. Marr brought the funk on stage and the track was impossible not to dance to, becoming an unexpected set highlight for me.
Drums were again a highlight on ‘Gold’, which still proves to get even more amazing live, with the added spectacle of a stunning gold behind Murphy and his crew. ‘Dead Body’ was a track I enjoyed listening to already but Murphy’s vocal performance tonight on the tune were incredible, with the drums and guitar absolutely slaying once more. Following a powerful, if not a little disjointed rendition of ‘Cigarettes and Loneliness’, the main set ended, and I couldn’t believe there was still more to come. Murphy was completely on form tonight and the set so far had been dynamite, but then he had to come out, and debut a new track. Damn you Chet you beautiful man.
Despite saying this new song probably wouldn’t release, it would be shame for it not to be widely heard, because the raw emotion and passion exuded by Murphy with this track had the crowd in total silence. One of the only times music has had me frozen still and admittedly yes, a little teary but wow, what a tune. The band and choir returned to deliver more powerful emotion with the beautiful song ‘To Me’. Strengthened by the increased choir size on stage, this personal favourite track proved to be yet another set highlight; live saxophone is always a win. With the saxophone presence on stage, it was only fitting that this Built On Glass celebration ended with ‘Talk is Cheap. Typically played by Murphy just on keys, it really felt like full circle with a full instrumental arrangement, and those first saxophone notes oozing into the night, ah yes please. Looking around and seeing the hill sing as one, clapping along to the track that has thrust Murphy into the limelight brought the night to a close in the best way possible.
Seeing Murphy skip off stage after a humble and sincere thank you to the hometown crowd, I really felt lucky to have been there to witness Built on Live. A truly remarkable album upon release has evolved, grown and been used as a foundation for Murphy’s creative brilliance to thrive upon, setting the bar high for future work. In saying that, I have no doubt whatever comes next from Chet Faker will be exciting, soulful and a treat for the ears. Don’t stay away too long Mr Murphy, because you put on a spectacle that I won’t forget.
PHOTOS: Chet Faker in Melbourne.