Fat White FamilyJacaranda Phase One 24/4/19
For those expecting the usual raucous, anarchic spectacle that is a FAT WHITE FAMILY show, tonight’s stripped-back, acoustic offerings perhaps come as something of a disappointment. This does not, however, prevent a small group of let’s say coked-up fan-boys from nearly derailing the performance on several occasions. Although this does detract from proceedings for those of us interested in hearing the tracks from new LP Serfs Up! laid bare, it’s still an enjoyable affair.
Setting up on stage as a self-proclaimed Baroque incarnation of the usual group, the normally extensive line-up has been whittled down to four. Reduced to acoustic guitar, flute, synths and vocals, their opening rendition of Oh Sebastian is lent a fragile air that you sense would be absent from a more traditional Fat Whites outing. The new album sees the band enter more pop-orientated territory with inflections of disco and Gainsbourg throughout. Tonight’s minimalist configuration suits these songs well.
Singles Feet and Tastes Good With The Money are well received and demonstrate a more mature and considered approach to songwriting that is apparent throughout the new record. Lias Saoudi’s vocals have taken on a restrained, hushed delivery and draw attention to his revitalised lyrical output, which seems to have shifted away from the nihilistic and more into the poetic. In the absence of Saul Adamczewski for most of the recording process, and from tonight’s performance, Lias and brother Nathan have shouldered more of the responsibility for the creative process and it is intriguing to see the interplay between the two on stage. At times fractious, such as when Nathan scores some ketamine from one of the aforementioned fan-boys, there is clearly a symbiosis between the two that has resulted in a clarity of vision. One that, at times, has been lacking in the band’s previous work.
Never ones to shy away from a crowd baying for rambunctiousness, towards the end of the set the Fat Whites give up on their attempt to retain a semblance of intimacy and launch into chaotic renderings of fan favourites I Am Mark E. Smith and Touch The Leather. If you’ve ever wondered what it looks like to see a group of ket-addled, 20-somethings start a pit to some energetic flute playing, well, it ain’t pretty. Sort of like a grotesque, millennial take on a Jethro Tull gig. The scuffling and saucer-eyed, scream-alongs do perhaps simply draw attention to the inherent absurdity in the Fat White Family attempting to pull off a stripped-back, acoustic set in the first place. They built this audience, so now they may just have to live with them. It remains to be seen how the full line-up will incorporate the new tracks into their repertoire on the upcoming tour, but if tonight’s anything to go by, they may have to lean heavily on the back catalogue if the crowd is to be sated.