Live Review: Two Door Cinema Club introduce Melbourne to their Gameshow at Festival Hall

It’s been four years since Two Door Cinema Club have blessed the ears of their Melbourne fans, so it came as no surprise that the Irish pop-rock outfit went all out to make their show at Festival Hall one to remember. Planting their feet on our shores initially for their appearance at Splendour in the Grass, the trio (plus two added touring band members) performed a string of shows around the country, showcasing their latest album, 2016’s Gameshow, among their throng of well-known back-catalogue jams.

Brisbane emerging indie-rock foursome, The Creases, kick started the evening. Despite the lacklustre number of people who show up to a gig early these days, the local lads delivered a high-energy opening set. Filled with twangy guitars and layered vocals, they set the tone for what was yet to come.

Entrée number two came in the form of the second indie-rock four-piece from Brisbane for the evening. But this second serving was certainly more intriguing… If Last Dinosaurs’ entrance to Vengaboys’ “We Like To Party” wasn’t enough for you to raise your eyebrow (but then gladly bop along to), the pop rockers’ mashup of cover songs was sure to progress your night into full dancefloor/singalong action. Their energy-inciting compilation included “Slide” by Calvin Harris, amid late-90s/early-2000s pop classics: “Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love)” by Spiller, Modjo’s “Lady (Hear Me Tonight)”, and Stardust’s “Music Sounds Better With You”…what a combination!

Of course, the foursome also performed a myriad of tracks from their two LPs, In A Million Years and Wellness. Crowd favourites “Zoom” and “Evie” emphasised the band’s strengths: layered vocals accompanied with dancy, upbeat guitar riffs; the combination Last Dinosaurs are known and adored for.

Finally, the moment fans had been waiting for since the night’s headliners pulled out of their 2014 Splendour in the Grass festival and sideshow spots…Two Door Cinema Club were on stage and ready to share over an hour of energetic, captivating, and straight-up fun music, with the thousands now crammed into Festival Hall.

Within the first four bars of music, your heart rate had spiked and your brain diverted into nostalgia, as your ears filled with the catchy, up-tempo sounds of “Cigarettes In The Theatre”. There was an instant familiarity in your ears (and your mind). As “Undercover Martyn” followed suit, you could tell the crowd had now remembered exactly why they once loved and still love these Irish fellas’ songs.

The crowd was relentlessly dancing and singing along to every word, giving a not-so-subtle approval of the older selection of tracks, from the trio’s earlier LPs, Beacon and Tourist History. The nostalgic nod was so evident when within one guitar strum of “Do You Want It All”, screams erupted from the audience.

In comparison, newer numbers such as “Bad Decisions”, while likeable, didn’t garner nearly as much enthusiasm, acting as a semi-break between the fan favourites. Lead vocalist Alex Trimble’s astounding falsetto championed the song regardless, and the neon lights did their part to add to the overall experience too.

Again, “Lavender”, from their latest album Gameshow, while funky and singalong-worthy, could not match the fervour about to emerge from the crowd when older tracks “Next Year”, “Come Back Home” and “Something Good Can Work” began. Just as you thought the audience enthusiasm had plateaued, it broke the boundaries once more and reached a new height of intensity.

Finally, a newer song was deemed worthy enough by the audience to match the liveliness of an older one. “Are We Ready?” incited an enlivened drive from the dancefloor. However, the new album’s title track “Gameshow” failed to pack a punch as the follow-up.

Unsurprisingly, “I Can Talk” was the crowd favourite of the night, followed closely by “Sun” — as with the opening guitar hook in “Do You Want It All”, all it took for screams to erupt this time were the first two words of the song, ‘ocean blue’.

It’s clear with Gameshow the trio have moved away from their lo-fi pop-rock beginnings and more towards a funky disco style with added synth elements. And while their fans still love the crap out of them, it’s evident that, in their minds, nothing matches up to the catchiness of their older tracks.

While the back-catalogue of albums rightly deserve their place on permanent listening rotation all these years later, it’s not the newer numbers that seem to get the least appreciation at this show. What appears to be most underrated is Trimble’s impeccable vocals. His singing style is so unique, his voice so subtle yet demanding attention, and he never falter throughout an entire performance where his voice essentially leads the set. Fans may relish in the catchy guitar hooks and up-tempo drum beats, which absolutely make you want to dance, sing, and clap along all night, but if it’s musical talent we’re talking about, the command Trimble has over his vocals are what sets Two Door Cinema Club apart from the rest.

“Someday” and “What You Know” were the dessert of the evening, another encore nobody asked for (which is the irritating standard at gigs these days), yet one which ended the evening surprisingly perfectly. The crowd left covered in sweat, and grinning from ear to ear.

Though fans undoubtedly headed home to spend the following days listening to an earlier album from the three-piece, seeing this incredible, talented band in a live setting shone a new light on their most recent offering. While Gameshow may not be as influential as the older records right now, like a nice glass of red on a cold Melbourne night, it will likely only get better with age…and in a few years’ time will surely be the subject of a nostalgia-inducing concert of its own.

The reviewer attended this show on July 25th. Photo by Rochelle Flack.