Tensnake: Not holding back his love

Photo by Win Jie

Resident Advisor have just put up my review of Tensnake‘s live show in Sydney last week:

Adult Disco presents Tensnake, Civic Hotel, 02.01.2011

Thank goodness for Future Classic, who have not only been championing Tensnake‘s sounds for longer than most in Sydney, but for also making sure his only appearance in the city was not going to be as fine print for the Field Day festival. So as everyone was stumbling toward the end of a long weekend dominated by bloated outdoor events and hastily slapped-together sideshows, here was a little breath of fresh air.

Already heaving when I arrived before midnight, the compact and sonically immaculate venue approached sardine can status as residents Nathan McLay and Chad Gillard built the tempo and feeling. They happily segued between lighter fare like the Dead Rose reconstruction of Gladys Knight‘s “Taste of Bitter Love,” freestyle-esque tracks like Ilija Rudman‘s “Time and Time,” and trippier sounds like Harvey‘s powerful take on “Rushing to Paradise.”

As Tensnake’s live setup awaited his arrival on stage at the scheduled starting time of 1 AM, a nervous Chad suddenly popped up asking if we’d seen where the star attraction had disappeared to. The problem was quickly rectified and raucous cheering drowned out the last record of the warm-up. Immediately Marco Niemerski was away with the boogiefied “Get It Right,” persisting with the slow build delivered by the residents.

Indeed, the first half of his hour-long set was about as wonderful a revisionist exercise in joyous, soulful, early ’80s disco atmospherics as you could hope for through a laptop and Akai controller arrangement. Once he dropped “Coma Cat” at the midway point of his set, though, the subtlety of what he was doing dissipated a little and we were served a more staccato selection of “big” tracks—a dark reconfiguration of “In The End (I Want You to Cry),” the pumping Glossy edit of “Burning Love,” the Foals‘ “Cassius” and finishing on his genre-crunching remix of “Reckless with Your Love.” It was all hands-in-the-air stuff, but seemed to come to a halt too quickly—a conclusion drawn hastily by about a third of the punters, who promptly headed for the door. 

This was a shame because, once they got over some missteps in trying to recapture the mood post-Tensnake, McLay and Gillard hit their straps with some cool tuneage. At what other club night can you hear Manolo‘s Celeda-sampling “The Answer” alongside old-fashioned disco-house and Kink‘s bleepy, acidic “E79” before some banging techno sliding into ’80s synth pop? Despite the thinning crowd, those who remained were rewarded with some nice eclecticism, even if the high quality parts were sometimes greater than the whole. 

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