“This is our first show in a very long time, it’s great to be doing it in our home town” Julian Hamilton, vocalist for The Presets, said at the duo’s secret gig at the HiFi in Sydney last night.
It wasn’t until the jacketed Julian and his sleeveless counter-part Kim Moyes strode onto stage and tore into the lead track from their commercial and critical juggernaut Apocalypso (2008) that it became clear that The Presets are returning with the same vigour and purpose behind them that they had 4 years ago.
‘Kicking and Screaming’ was the beginning of a volcanic wall of uninterrupted techno, a huge visceral sound that flowed over the expectant crowd, oozing into ears and exiting through dancing feet and moving arms. “They’re back” the crowd collectively seemed to be saying with their jerky movements and uninhibited dancing.
Perhaps the most striking thing about The Presets’ return, aside from the huge body-shaking sound they’re producing, is the subtle changes. Their whole set was infused with the same minmal techno and acid house of the first single off their new album ‘Youth In Trouble’. So much so, that even Beams era tracks like ‘Are You The One?’ had the kind of heart-racing, seemingly endless builds, and then sublime drops, that aren’t present on the original recordings.
The entire set was a seamless whole – with very few gaps, and pre-mixed transitions. Live vocals and drums added raw energy to the steely and unrelenting techno soundtrack. It was heart-ponding, ear-drum splitting and impressively dynamic. One impressive example of the smooth segues the boys were busting out last night was during a climactic moment of the set. Approximately 40mins deep into the show, scorching new track ‘A.O’ was reaching its hectic pinnacle of pulsing white noise – it was held there just long enough for the crowd to feel slightly disoriented and in need of a mega drop. Which followed shortly, with a seamless shift to their epic stomper ‘My People’. This was easily the highlight of the show – the two tracks work as perfect partners, and it was a moment that represents the skill of The Presets to hold an audience’s attention.
Unlike many well-established artists returning to the fray with a new album, there was no insistence or clear emphasis on the new material – the boys are clearly not shy of playing their older hits, and the set came off as The Presets on shuffle. They displayed their beginnings, their middle and their current end. Washed with the same techno vibe, it didn’t jar to hear Beams sandwiched between Pacifica (their recently released 2012 album) and Apocalypso.
One of the best things about this special performance, was the laid back, love-in vibe. There was room to dance, there were some stumbles over lyrics by Julian. As a result, it felt intimate, special, secret, like being privy to a very, very tight rehearsal. And it was a rehearsal of sorts, for their anticipated public return at Parklife over the next few weekends. What last night proved is that punters have an excellent live show to look forward to. The Presets are back, big time, and as I tweeted last night: #thisgirlsinlove.
Stay tuned for the next Issue of Groupie Magazine, out Oct 3rd, featuring a video interview with Kim and Julian from The Presets.