Not even heat and a mid-song power fault could deter AlunaGeorge when they hit Corner Hotel
Fortunes were up first. Conor McCabe’s honey-smooth vocals were the clear highlight, the frontman strutting the stage, bouncing gently on his toes, doing his best to stimulate the crowd. Producer Barnaby Matthews manned a modest station, each instrumental detail a result of his electronic wizardry. That seemed to be the idea, anyway. It was so difficult to detect just how much input Matthews actually had throughout the set. On this occasion, at least, Matthews appeared wholly unengaged with his craft, mostly just grooving along, going through the motions, lips pursed on the rim of a Melbourne Bitter tinny. It was as if a random ticket-holder had been pulled onto the stage and decided to make the best of it.
Though they sweat in oppressive heat, the Corner crowd was absolutely electric for AlunaGeorge, relishing their slick fusion of R&B and synthpop. Perhaps most notably, frontwoman Aluna Francis was perfectly powerful and charming from start to finish. Put simply, she slayed. Not even a mid-song power fault was enough to derail Francis. As both drums and keyboard abandoned her, she persevered, leading the crowd deeper and deeper into the song. She seemed untouchable and, when the problem was eventually resolved, she proved as much.
The sassy gem Not Above Love brimmed with sweet nostalgia for ‘90s chart-toppers, the delectable textbook pop tune an obvious standout. Few could go past I Remember, even Francis herself savoured the moment, genuinely overcome with emotion to hear each lyric loudly and lovingly returned to the stage, courtesy of the enthusiastic crowd. This event seemed to light a fire under Francis, whose command of the crowd ascended to a new level.
Barring the power fault, in terms of execution, it was difficult to find a fault in this set from AlunaGeorge. On the whole, the accomplished band boasted faithful, expert recreations of the studio work, with new life breathed into certain tracks, courtesy of the live setting. Song for song, the set was full of fun, punchy electro-pop. “Have a wonderful 2017,” wished Francis, before departing from the stage. A fitting farewell, for she had ensured, at least, that the year had begun in spectacular fashion.
Words by Nick Mason
Image by Michael Woods
Highlight: Francis’ talents as a natural performer. Such a powerful presence.
Lowlight: The weather ensured it was an uncomfortably sweaty affair.
Crowd Favourite: I’m In Control.