Live Review: Walk Off The Earth @ The Tivoli w/ Chris Watts – 28.07.2017
It was an unusual mix of people that flowed into the Tivoli last Friday night. From my perch on the ornate mezzanine, I could see the venue steadily fill to the brim with the most diverse cross-section of humanity I’ve ever seen at a gig. Clean-cut teenagers mixed with old hippies while a group of goths lined up for drinks. The energy was high and the crowd was ready for the world’s biggest cover band.
The night began with Melbourne singer-songwriter Chris Watts. He was joined by Amy Sheppard, who perfectly complemented his boyish charm with her blue-haired pixie vibe, looking ethereally sweet in a flowing white top. Their folksy harmonies and gentle acoustic guitar lines played perfectly to the crowd’s mood, and the duo were met with thunderous applause as their set wound to a close.
In the relative quiet before the main event, a few men took the stage dressed in the usual black t-shirts of roadies and stage hands. However, they turned around to reveal the words, “Sing It All The Way” emblazoned on their shirts in big white letters. This appeared to be a cue, as the lights dimmed and Walk Off The Earth took the stage.
They opened with their viral rendition of Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You, complete with the playing of musical tubes that makes their version of the song so distinctive. The audience flew into a dancing frenzy, singing along as the song morphed into TLC’s No Scrubs and Blackstreet’s No Diggity. It was the closest I’ve ever seen a show come to being an all-out karaoke party. But that’s only to be expected from a band that became famous from their ingenious reinvention of popular songs. The likes of Adele, Pharrell Williams and The Chainsmokers all got a look-in as the night wore on.
That’s not to say that Walk Off The Earth don’t have their fair share of excellent original tracks. The repeated refrain of Sing It All The Way kept making an appearance throughout the night, used to punctuate breaks between other songs. And their high-energy performance of their original tune Taekwondo brought the house down. Sarah Blackwood’s vigour was particularly impressive, given that her heavily pregnant form was made perfectly obvious in a black and flesh-coloured body suit. A woman in her third trimester jumping on top of a fold-back speaker and rocking out on a ukulele is an image that sticks with you.
The band were constantly swapping instruments back and forth, with guitars, ukuleles, drums and even a euphonium changing hands throughout their performance. The instrumental highlight of the night was when they sang the opening strains of Bohemian Rhapsody, before nearly member of the band left the stage leaving only Mike “Beard Guy” Taylor on stage. The audience kept up the vocals while Beard Guy displayed his skill on the keyboard, effortlessly keeping a room of drunken revellers in time and key. In the deafening applause that followed, the stage emptied.
They wouldn’t be summoned to an encore by simple cheering. Only the belted strains of Sing It All The Way would lure them back onstage. Of course, no performance by Walk Off The Earth would be complete without the one cover that launched their international career. The core five members gathered around one guitar for their famous rendition of Gotye’s Somebody That I Used To Know. That song flowed into a series of Motown classics, before the band finally rang in the night with a final full rendition of Sing It All The Way, joined on every word by the ecstatic crowd as giant balloons fell from the ceiling.
A critical view of them would say Walk Off The Earth is a little gimmicky. But they can’t be faulted on their ability to amaze an audience, their technical skill as musicians, and their knack of cutting through to so many demographics, appealing to people from all walks of life. Their infectious energy has you singing along in spite of yourself. Sing it all the way, my darling.
Check out our photo gallery from the night HERE.
Photos by Cristina Jorgensen