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Live Review: Mac DeMarco w/ Kirin J. Callinan @ The Forum – 07.02.2018

This pains me to say, but I have to: Mac DeMarco’s sold-out Melbourne show fell short of the performance expected from a seasoned musician headlining Laneway Festival 2018.

Everything started out wonderfully. Entering the iconic Forum Theatre, I was greeted by the joyful sound and fabulous dance moves of Australia’s own Kirin J Callinan. Anticipation peaked as DeMarco’s call-time rolled around two rows of VIPs took their seats on stage (yes, I was jealous).

DeMarco approached the microphone, smiled, and encouraged his audience, “keep it respectful, keep it peaceful, smile on your neighbour.” Without fuss, DeMarco opened the set with On The Level. The mellow, synth-rich tune had the audience swaying as they sung the lyrics back to him.

Salad Days proved a delightful sing-along tune for the crowd, during which DeMarco’s daggy dance moves were fully realised. DeMarco then picked up his acoustic guitar and performed the title track off his 2017 album, This Old Dog. Unfortunately though, the rest of the gig could only be described as messy.

Having followed DeMarco throughout his discography, I expected the performance to align with the sonic qualities of his latest album. I was expecting a humble, content and happier DeMarco to sing the lessons of a young person trying to understand love and his place in the world. There were a handful of these beautiful moments; the acoustic performance of This Old Dog, a lighthearted cover of Seal’s Kissed by a Rose, Moonlight On The River.

However, overwhelmingly, the gig lacked professionalism and respect for the audience—who had paid serious coin for their tickets. On two occasions during the set, DeMarco handed over the microphone to members of his band who dived into longwinded and irrelevant monologues.

DeMarco lacked the humility on-stage one would expect from a man who penned lyrics such as: Hey kid everybody’s prone to some mistakes/If you always kept it straight you’d never learn/You run the risk of all the risks you take.

Two low points involved DeMarco screaming at the audience for 60 seconds and a member of the band yelling “who’s on drugs?” to the audience.

It was easy to see DeMarco was authentically enjoying these off-script moments on stage and many members of the audience were embracing the raw energy. But for myself, the amount of time spent on these detours detracted significantly from the performance and I was left disappointed in one of my all-time favorite artists.

DeMarco ended the set with a loose rendition of Together, a love-song from his sophomore album about him and his long-term girlfriend Kira. He then passed the mic back to his drummer, Joe McMurray, to perform a cover of The Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s Under The Bridge that served as a very effective method of clearing the venue.

View the full gallery from the night HERE.

Photos by Nick Tucker