by Lucette Moulang
The hum of energy was electric as fans lined the outside wall of the Forum, craning their necks to glimpse the doorway and a possible sighting of Oh Wonder’s Anthony and Josephine. I was amongst the eager, having previously missed opportunities to see the duo perform despite my identity as a die-hard worshipper to their career from its inception.
Off the back of their second full-length album Ultralife and a colossal reception for their first nation-wide Australian tour, Oh Wonder have been highly anticipated among Melbourne listeners. The most dedicated were clustered there, glitter-clad cheeks beaming as couples and groups discuss their high expectations, only minutes prior to the rush of euphoria and a clamber towards the stage. I hustled to the front – ribs jammed painfully against the metal barrier as I arched my face up in delight. I had made it to the front, smack-bang in front of the large keyboard and glistening fender telecaster sat upon its stand.
When the dancing melodies of Body Gold first delighted my ears in 2014, I tingled all over with the feeling that whoever the artist was, they were something special. Oh Wonder’s subsequent discography has proved the soundtrack to my adolescence – as though my personal diaries had been written by someone else, and immortalised on a physical level – the songs we’d been singing in our bedroom for years finally materialised before us in waves of rapturous energy.
Perhaps my favourite aspect of the show, and one that set it apart from any concert I’d previously attended, was Josephine’s half-time monologue in the instrumental prelude to All We Do. As she launched into a recount of her and Anthony’s first time visiting Australia in 2015, the stillness in the room was palpable as two thousand pairs of eyes sat glued to the stage.
“If you had told us then that in three years we’d be playing The Forum to all of you wonderful people we’d have sad you were dreaming. Turns out dreaming’s a good thing, and when you combine it with hard work it makes magic happen.”
This honesty and intimate touch to the performance enhanced its quality beyond measure, land marking a memory that will remain with me for years to come. The electric blue “OW” lettering across the back of the stage proved a simple yet striking backdrop to the pair’s intense, energetic set. These two don’t need fireworks or flashing spotlights to make a crowd jump – their riotous joy on stage seeped across the heads of us in the crowd as our ears were filled with each other’s excited woops.
High On Humans is introduced with a booming robotic voice, asking “Are you ready, Melbourne?” a question that could only be greeted with deafening screams and a surge of adrenaline. The energy with which Josephine carried out the set is to be commended. Never tiring, she dances and sways throughout each song, her long ponytail flicking in time to the music with a grin so wide I couldn’t help but mirror it. Avoiding the downfall that many artists meet in live performances of lacking audible diction, she pronounced each word clearly and with the dedication of a true artist.
While Anthony was less peppy, preferring to cruise through each song with a more relaxed demeanour, his technical experience shone through to make Oh Wonder’s live performance just as impressive as a mixed and mastered record. What ultimately topped this gig was the love and appreciation evident from both members towards every single person in the audience.
There wasn’t a moment the two weren’t making eye contact, egging us on to accompany them in the familiar lyrics of each song. When Anthony laughed at my dramatic reactions, and Josephine bent down to clasp my hand during Drive, I couldn’t have had a stronger impression of their dedication to their music and those who partake in it with the same commitment and elation.
Having sold out stadiums and performed at hundreds of thousands at festivals all over the world, I was satisfied to witness that Oh Wonder’s high-energy and electric performance value held true even in a smaller venue. Needless to say that the next time the pair are in town, you’ll know where to find me.