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Live Review: Darren Hayes – 28th March 2023 – London Palladium, London, UK

6 min read
Pop icon @darrenhayes delivers stellar 5* set of solo and Savage Garden gold at @LondonPalladium show promoting Homosexual! Our full review...

Having recently wrapped up a successful sold-out tour down under, playing to fans the width and breadth of his homeland of Australia throughout February, ex-Savage Garden frontman turned solo star Darren Hayes turned his sights on the UK, bringing his flamboyant and fabulous new solo show to British fans who have waited a good decade for the pop star to make his return.

Hayes first found fame in the mid-nineties as lead singer and songwriter of Savage Garden, reshaping not just the pop landscape of nis native Australia, but helping the rejuvenation of the global pop market thanks to two stellar albums and a string of mammoth hit singles including I Want You, To The Moon and Back, The Animal Song and the Billboard US number one, Truly, Madly, Deeply before the band disbanded and Hayes went on to lead a successful solo career, releasing several albums before taking a decade long hiatus.

Returning to the pop world at the end of 2022 with his recently released fifth solo album, Homosexual, Hayes explores sexuality and his newfound freedom and self-acceptance of being a member of the LGBTQI+ community and mixing these topics with a fresh pop and disco feel that is very much in the style of Haye’s previous work. Alongside that release the pop icon has taken back to the road to promote the album and also look back and celebrate his time in one of pop music’s most successful and celebrated duos.

As we found our place to our sets within the famous settings of the London Palladium, it was immediately evident that this was going to be a fully charged night of nostalgia and music. Fans donned Savage Garden t-shirts as well as attire with ‘Homosexual’ spread across the front in support of the Aussie hitmaker who emerged on stage as a dancing silhouette at 8.15pm; gyrating and leg-kicking his energetic way through an opening mashup of Homosapien, taken from his latest studio effort and Savage Garden single, Chained to You behind large draped white curtains that were displayed like windows peeking into a scene of night time naughtiness.

Savage Gardens second album, Affirmation was given further nods early into the set with the title track and The Animal Song demanding their rightful place and Hayes’ impeccable falsetto reaching up into the venues historically structured heights; fans up and dancing right from the opening song and unseated for the entirety of the show.

Medleys were out in full force throughout the duration of the set – a perfect mix of debut solo hit Insatiable tied in nicely with Patrice Rushen’s Forget Me Nots and a closing nod to George Michaels Fastlove – evolving Insatiable into an entirely transformed and pulsating hit, while nearing the end of the set Break Me Shake Me gelled effortless with Indeep’s Last Night A DJ Saved My Life. All You Pretty Things and Step into the Light was a perfect marriage as Hayes performed the tracks accompanied by an array of multi-coloured lights flashing around the stage and the venue like a true Pride seasoned event, giving further encouragement to the crowd to remain on foot and dancing along to the pop star dominating the stage with his band and back-up singers who also provided back up dancing roles to many of the tracks offered up.

A segment of new numbers found its footing in the centre of the show with a showcase of some of Homosexuals highlight additions including Do You Remember?, Homosexual (Act One) and Let’s Try Being in Love being standouts from the new record and being widely accepted by the crowd despite Hayes and one of his backing dancers doing a phone bit in the lead up, joking about the widely known fact that newer songs by legacy artists are usually not so welcomed; at the same time showing off Hayes’ love of theatrics in his performance and adding multiple performative elements to his shows. And, while the interpretive dance to Let’s Try Being in Love seemed a little homemade, it was its rawness and improvised feel that added to the shows casual and ‘unfiltered’ feel.

Up-tempo and sexually charged were the dominant themes of the set but stripped back moments were where Hayes really shone, as well as moments of vulnerability where the singer would let us into moments in his life and journey as a son, a singer and a proud gay man. A gorgeous piano led performance of Two Beds and a Coffee Machine was paired with Hayes describing in detail his journey as a child in an abusive family set up to finding fame and acceptance by fans as part of Savage Garden and moving to New York to find his first same-sex relationship following a marriage to a woman named Colby and the effects of these things, and this woman, who he described as having such admiration for, on his life. This led perfectly into an ode to Colby with I Don’t Know You Anymore, leaving many in the crowd, as well as Hayes himself, teary-eyed.

As the new numbers were welcomed by fans, it was of course the Savage Garden hits that the crowd were ultimately longing for. As the space effects started to reverberate throughout the venue, the crowd exploded with excitement as Hayes turned out a stellar performance of To The Moon And Back early on in the night. I Knew I Loved You was opened by a brief cover of Madonna’s True Blue. Crash and Burn and closing number, The Best Thing had the crowd singing back to the superstar but it was without doubt, Billboard number one hit Truly, Madly, Deeply, with its minimalistic instrumentation, and power-pop juggernaut, I Want You that were the highlights of the show with Hayes making off for a quick costume change ahead of the latter; emerging from the stage in a Saturday Night Fever style white suit and tied back hair to ignite the venue with the pop hit.

Early into the set Hayes confessed to the crowd “I wasn’t sure anyone would turn up but you did”, showing a genuine appreciation to his audience, some who have waited decades to see the singer perform some of his incredible repertoire. But the fans really did show up and the singer truly turned out a spectacular night filled with music, love self-acceptance and nostalgia. It was an incredible night overflowing with some of the pops finest pennings from a true superstar of pop!

Setlist:

Homosapien / Chained to You (Savage Garden song) / Pop!ular (Pete Shelley cover)
Affirmation (Savage Garden song)
The Animal Song (Savage Garden song)
Insatiable / Forget Me Nots (Patrice Rushen cover) / Fastlove (George Michael cover)
All You Pretty Things / Step into the Light
To The Moon And Back (Savage Garden song) / Smalltown Boy (Bronski Beat cover)
Two Beds and a Coffee Machine (Savage Garden song)
I Don’t Know You Anymore (Savage Garden song)
Poison Blood
True Blue (Madonna cover) / I Knew I Loved You
Casey
Do You Remember?
Homosexual (Act One)
Let’s Try Being in Love
Pop!ular / Showing Out (Get Fresh And The Weekend) / All Around Me (Savage Garden song) (Mel & Kim cover)
Break Me Shake Me (Savage Garden song) / Last Night A DJ Saved My Life (Indeep cover)
Hey Matt
Dublin Sky
Crash and Burn (Savage Garden song)
Truly Madly Deeply (Savage Garden song)

Encore:
I Want You (Savage Garden song)
The Best Thing (Savage Garden song)