Fatboy Slim – The Palace, Melbourne (07/03/2012)

For one night only The Palace Theatre seemed to be transformed back into its former incarnation as The Metro, the infamously trashy nightclub of the late nineties, as the largely early-thirties crowd rubbed shoulders and grooved to bass-heavy beats with varying degrees of convincing ability.

Those who came to pack out the venue had another good reason to reminisce on late nineties culture, as the main act will to many forever be associated with his 1998 mega-hit album , You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby. In town for Future Music Festival, Norman Cook, A.K.A. Fatboy Slim, may have slipped out of view as far as the pop charts are concerned, but as tonight’s set proved, he has never ceased traversing the globe and doing what he does best.

Beaming from ear to ear, and these days resembling your slightly camp, party starting uncle, Cook wasted no time in doing just that, delivering heavy, insistent beats with strong, catchy melodies. The crowd was with him from the first drum hit, as the Brighton (UK)-based DJ waved his arms above his head to signify that it was definitely time to boogie; his audience obliged, and the venue was soon an energetic, sweaty mess.

It became obvious that the forty-eight year old was intent on giving a ‘club’ set, sticking to beats, as compared to his festival performances, which are largely comprised of his own, and others’, hits. This was not at all a bad thing though, as the lack of sing-a-long distractions allowed the crowd to dance and simply enjoy the show, as a dance music veteran moved seamlessly through different grooves and feels.

Visuals were an important component to Cook’s show, and they were used in a way that complemented and accentuated the music, with the lighting being used particularly effectively. As the set grew, the lighting design became more complex, until at one point the lights were projected directly onto The Palace’s distinctive mirrorballs, causing it refract throughout the room, sending diamonds of light cascading over the crowd.

Cook also had a large screen behind him, projecting videos relating to and synced with the music. Computer animations of his own face appeared at various times, mouthing lyrics, notably during 2001 single Star 69, where the animation took on different face-painted personas, such as The Joker and The Riddler, whose normally green mask was covered with Fatboy Slim’s smiley face and crossbones logo.

At this point something seemed to go horribly wrong, as the graphics displayed on the screen suddenly disappeared and the bemused attendees were left staring at a giant projection of Cook’s desktop laptop. That was until the Mac’s spinning rainbow wheel became larger and larger in size, eventually filling the screen and leading into the next track.

This was indicative of the sort of cheeky humour that is inherent in Fatboy Slim’s music, audiovisual show and public persona, as he released giant bouncy balls into the crowd, again featuring his logo.

LMFAO’s I’m in Miami, Bitch, with the word ‘Australia’ inserted into it received the reaction the DJ was looking for, but grew tiresome quickly, and was saved by Cee Lo Green’s Fuck You and the 2Pac classic California Love, which had the entire theatre getting down like it was 1995 again.

After a brief Etta James tribute, Cook donned a mask of his own face and dropped Get Naked, a track co-produced with Riva Star, featuring the recurring line ‘Do you know who I am?!’ If any person upon entering The Palace did not, they did now.

Norman Cook knows exactly who Fatboy Slim is, and he steered his ship with a professional ease, knowing exactly how to keep the energy building without tiring anyone out or testing their patience. Tonight’s performance proved that he remains determined to put on a great show, and has his act down so well that he knows how this is should be done every time.

Never one to leave his audience disappointed, Cook rounded off the set with a trio of crowd pleasers – a version of The Prodigy’s Smack My Bitch Up was followed by a shortened version of his own hit single Praise You. Just as many, presumably thinking about the looming working day, began to make tentative moves towards the venue’s exit Rockafeller Skank, the definitive Fatboy Slim song, which was mixed with the main riff from The Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction, set the room alight.

Fresh reserves of energy were found and the dancing was reenergised for the track’s duration, while Cook killed two birds with one stone by playing his most iconic video, for 2006’s Weapon of Choice as a backdrop. It was a great way to end the set, and as Cook bade everyone an enthusiastic goodnight, the lights lifted and the sweaty beer stained scenes of The Metro once again gave way to the cold opulence of The Palace.

Originally published on FasterLouder on 10/03/2012. View original article.

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