Gotye at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, 8/22/12 (photos and review)By Candace Horgan | August 23rd, 2012 | 4 comments
I said it in April when he played the Ogden Theatre, but it bears repeating: It’s amazing what having but a solitary, catchy, mega-hit single can do for one’s career. Take Wally De Backer, better known as Gotye, who headlined Red Rocks Wednesday night.
Prior to this year, Gotye had never been to Colorado, and his first show here was booked at the Bluebird before being moved to the Ogden. Four months later, he was at Red Rocks. Opening the show was Missy Higgins, who before this year had had far more success in Colorado, headlining numerous shows and playing the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival twice.
Gotye is no overnight success story. He’s been toiling away for years, and had released two albums before “Making Mirrors” and its can’t-escape single “Somebody That I Used to Know.” In fact, Gotye’s second album, “Like Drawing Blood,” which contained a minor hit song called “Heart’s A Mess,” still isn’t available in the United States. Prior to this year, if you had wanted to place a bet on the next big Australian artist in the U.S., Higgins would have been a much safer prospect.
Wednesday night’s show was the first of a two month U.S. tour. There were some glitches, including computers problems, which Gotye laughed about, saying they’d worked fine for nine months until he’d upgraded them.
Gotye is a very visual artist. As at his performance on Wednesday, there were videos projected on the rock monolith behind the stage. The larger red canvas made the videos seem much more intense, whether it was the pinks and pastels in the plastic world of “State of the Art” becoming gray, robotic and threatening, or the hooded figures stalking the viewer in “Don’t Worry, We’ll Be Watching You.”
Gotye and his band frequently changed instruments throughout the set, with the singer roaming between two minimal percussion sets and taking over the main kit on one song. Guitarist Ben Edgar took a turn behind the keys when he wasn’t using his deft talents on the guitar to raise the caliber of the live presentation of the songs. Edgar channeled an almost Gilmour-like phrasing on “Dig Your Own Hole,” strummed an electric mandolin in choppy, Edge-esque phrases on “Save Me,” and even took a turn on fingerpicked acoustic on “Giving Me a Chance” (a U.S. debut performance).
Toward the end of the set, Gotye delivered a strong performance of “Somebody That I Used to Know,” with the women in the audience singing Kimbra’s part at Gotye’s suggestion.
Higgins too performed admirably in her Red Rocks debut, overcoming tuning issues on a sultry “Secret” or tearing into a heartbreakingly tender “Where I Stood.”
Secret, Everyone’s Waiting, The River, Hello Hello, Unashamed Desire, Watering Hole, Where I Stood, Warm Whispers
The Only Way, What Do You Want, Easy Way Out, Smoke and Mirrors, Thanks for your Time, State of the Art, Backseat Driver, Don’t Worry We’ll Be Watching You, Dig Your Own Hole, Eyes Wide Open, Save Me, Somebody That I Used to Know, Heart’s A Mess, Giving Me a Chance, Bronte, Night Drive, The Only Thing I Know, E: I Feel Better
Lisa Higginbotham is a Denver photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb.