Concert Review: Aydan Calafiore Live in Melbourne

August 19, 2018

By Trent Vu

I watch a lot of TV. Probably a bit too much of it. There’s no show I get invested in more than The Voice Australia. I’ve watched it with an almost religious devotion since the reality singing show first aired in 2012. I transitioned from an adoring viewer to an avid fan when I set up a WordPress website to recap each episode of the show. Tragic, I know.

This year, in the show’s seventh season, one of my favourite contestants was Aydan Calafiore. His sob story was that he failed to get any Coaches to turn their big, red, spinny chair for him during the Blind Auditions in the previous season. The seventeen-year-old pop singer, who also appeared on Young Talent Time, came back with a vengeance this year, earning a four-chair turn with his cover of ‘Despacito’. After picking Joe Jonas as his Coach, he eventually made it to fourth place.

I’m not generally a fan of younger singers—there just tends to be a lack of emotional depth or a Toddlers and Tiaras-ness that makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. Yet something about Aydan’s effortless charisma, vocal chops and impressive showmanship led me to impulsively buy VIP tickets to see his show in Melbourne. Plus, I always like to support reality singing show contestants when I can—they don’t always reach Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood levels of fame and (financial) success!

So there I was walking down Chinatown to 170 Russell, and I see the massive line waiting to get in. Like, longer than the Thursgay line during a public holiday. This was surprising, because hardly anyone goes to ex-The Voice contestants’ gigs and I can usually enjoy my reality show fantasy in near solitude. Except this time, there were hundreds of young girls, some chaperoned by their parents, all excited to see this teen heartthrob in the flesh. The girls behind me in the line gave me some great Twitter content, with one-liners like “I haven’t shaved my arms since the holidays”, “I just want a ham and cheese toastie” and “You don’t notice oily hair with blonde”. They also tried to hatch an elaborate plan for one of them to create a fake boyfriend named Harry to make one of their exes jealous. Relatable. Fortunately (or unfortunately, because I was enjoying eavesdropping on their ten-year-old drama), I got to fast track to the front of the line with my VIP wristband. The perks of not having to rely on mum and dad’s credit card.

When I got inside, the mosh pit was reasonably quiet, so I briefly considered finding myself a good spot close to the stage. Then I realised that I didn’t want to get trampled on by a bunch of thirsty thirteen-year-olds. With that in mind, I stood on the steps, which weren’t too far from the stage, but allowed me to see over the crowd. It also made me look like I was potentially chaperoning a younger sister or something, and not just there of my own accord.

The opening acts, of which there were three (for what reason, I do not know), went by pretty quickly. The first girl must’ve been about fifteen at most, and was singing some pretty raunchy Ariana Grande and Demi Lovato songs. I don’t need to hear an underage girl sing ‘Side to Side’ again. Yikes. The second guy, Keenan Te, was my favourite of the three, and did some pretty impressive covers of Anne Marie’s ‘2002’ and Camila Cabello’s ‘Havana’. His original song ‘Behind’ (?), a mid tempo ballad about wanting someone to realise they would be better off with you, also has some commercial potential.

After all this riff raff, Aydan finally burst out onto the stage with a cover of Shawn Mendes’ ‘There’s Nothing Holding Me Back’, serving up some intense choreography alongside two backup dancers (I seriously don’t understand how people can dance and sing at the same time, both in terms of multitasking and breath control. Like I can’t even walk up a flight of stairs without panting like a dog). His set list—comprised mostly of covers— included some some highlights from his time on The Voice, like ‘Shut Up and Dance’, ‘Pray for Me’, ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’’ and ‘Uptown Funk’, as well as some new covers—‘The Middle’, ‘What I Like About You’, ‘Stay’. Sure, his vocals weren’t always perfectly in tune, but he definitely made up for these minor pitch issues by moving and grooving across the stage with endless charisma and a stage presence that can only be described as electric.

With a trio of ballads—‘You Are the Reason’, ’Perfect’, ‘Versace on the Floor’—he also proved that he can really finesse a song and deliver a powerful vocal, showcasing some versatility in his repertoire. One of his strongest suits is the agility he applies to his runs, hitting a flurry of notes in quick succession while ad libbing over the top of a song. As a Mariah Carey fan, the more runs, the better. 

Bar some mic issues in his encore performance of ‘Despacito’, the song that started it all for Aydan, the show went pretty well. I believe this was his first ever live show, and that he actually had a hand in creating the production himself. My only complaint was that there were like five Bruno Mars covers. I’m sure there are other (more interesting) pop/R&B artists out there. They were done well, but I’m interested in seeing Aydan continue to carve out his own artistry to differentiate himself from the likes of Bruno, Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes. I mean, his The Voice single ‘Something About You’ is a bop and it delivered really well in a live setting. I can’t wait to see him getting to work with some good songwriters to help him transition onto mainstream radio. He’s got the talent and if the massive and very rabid fanbase at this show was any sign, he’s well on his way to being the next big pop sensation.