Monday, June 17, 2024

Back In Australia! Luke Hemmings Live At Palais Theatre For 'Nostalgia For A Time That Never Existed' Tour

Luke Hemmings' first solo tour had stops across North America, the UK, Europe, and his home country, Australia. There is nothing like the ability to perform on your home turf and the energy that feeling brings into a performance! 

The Palais Theatre in Melbourne has been around since 1927 with a gorgeous interior of older wooden panelling, moody architecture, rows of seats on the lower level and upper balcony, and a mirror ball hanging in the centre above the orchestra seats. A stunning space was filling up with eager and excited fans walking under the sign outside that said "Luke Hemmings SOLD OUT", dressed in what can only be described as Luke Hemmings culture: blue shimmery eye shadow, sparkling dresses trousers, glitter, ties, and tour merch. 

Anticipation grew as the opener, Annie Hamilton, dressed in all black with matching large glittering angel wings, took the stage with her guitar. After her gorgeous performance,  the crowd buzzed, waiting for the Hemmings to take the stage. As soon as the auditorium lights dropped, the stage lights gently lit up the microphone in the middle, and the fog machines smoked, creating a mystical appearance; the entire crowd rushed to stand up, screaming and shouting. It was time! 

Hemmings opened the show with the enchanting 'A Beautiful Dream', creating goosebumps and a soothing atmosphere as his voice pierced and rippled through the space. Song after song, he proved a fruitful and talented musician with his angelic solid tenor voice, incredible showmanship with engaging crowd work, and guitar playing skills. Each element of his stage presence commanded attention, and there was no denying that he knew how to make it fun with his energy while playing and talking to the audience. Moments playing songs like 'Mum' felt otherworldly in the small space of the Palais as the chorus was loud and operatic, ringing in a heavenly way - almost in a religious way, the crowd was swept into the moment singing along with Hemmings, "I'm so heavy, jump into my ocean / Can't you see me sinkin'? / Love that fear of fallin'", transforming the space into something that transcended into the beyond. 

That's the power Hemmings has; he can reach into the souls of his listeners with his music digitally and even more so live. Every moment was heartfelt, authentic, and filled with energy, not to mention how sentimental he felt on the night. Hemmings mentioned how he was nervous about playing in Australia as playing in his home country, playing music written in 2020 that he wasn't sure he'd ever release, was unreal. Being in Melbourne to kick off the Australian leg of the tour in a place he played in once 10 years prior made the night even more memorable. Songs about growing up in Australia and reflecting on his life after he moved away like, 'Comedown', 'Benny', and 'Place In Me', give weight to how meaningful playing in Australia is for him. 

Beyond fans cheering through his sentimental moments, they were singing, cheering, and dancing alone or with each other, bringing a vibrant and enjoyable shared experience amongst each other. It was a brilliant night where each song played live, even the cover of 'Friday, I'm in Love' by The Cure, which gave way for Hemmings' voice to be heard in all its might, highlighting his indie vocal style (outside of his band 5 Seconds of Summer). His range ranges from higher tenor notes to lower rich baritone, as in 'Garden Life'. 

Hemmings ended night one of the Australian tour with 'Starting Line', a high-energy song with fans jumping, dancing, and shouting along to the music as the mirror ball lit up, sending a cascade of light illuminating the theatre like stars. Each of us in the auditorium feels like a wish is coming true in the last verse ("Take me alive, make me a liar, take me alive / Don't look away until it's gone, till it's gone"), guitar chord was strummed, and the rush was coming down making us all realise that all now have new memory. A memory of being a part of the first solo tour that captured the essence of sadness, gratitude, and finding yourself as you grow older wrapped in unbelievable talent from Hemmings and his band giving an enriching sound that replicated what is heard on his records. A new version of nostalgia exists for all who experience Luke Hemmings and will stay forever. 

Tyra Baker


Image: Australia Tour Poster

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