Review: disco-darlings Client Liaison bring their Pretty Lovers tour to Oxford Art Factory

It was a cool Saturday night in Sydney, and little boys and girls donned their most retro pastels and filed into the incomparable Oxford Art Factory ready to jive to the luscious synth-heaven of Melbourne-duo Client Liaison. The cavernous, nearly empty venue was like an ice box when we first arrived and it left me wondering why the venue felt the need to chill us like a prawn cocktail. Well, I figured that out later on, when the dancefloor became an entangled mess of sweaty, dancing hipsters who downright clambered all over each other to be in the same breathing space as Monte Morgan and Harvey Miller, who were in Sydney as part of their Pretty Lovers tour (and if you missed our interview with Harvey, check it out here.)

Starting the night off was Wrooks (Geordie Miller, also Client Liaison’s guitarist and the brother of Harvey,) who delivered a simple, satisfying introduction (with a hint of Client Liaison woven in through a mix of Feeling,) and while it was run-of-the-mill electronica, it served as a pleasant backdrop to the evening’s early conversations. With the room starting to bulge in anticipation, Sydney dance-quartet Retiree was up and managed to get people swaying with a surprisingly refined set full of moderated synth and subtle tribal percussion. In the context of Client Liaison’s unapologetically ostentatious glamour and vibrant pop, Retiree did feel like an odd support act, and never quite tipped over into generating full-on dance moves from the audience – but it was a solid performance that had nods all-round from my friends.

It wasn’t long before plumes of purple and blooms of pink smoke curled out from behind ebony curtains, as Client Liaison (accompanied by Geordie Miller on guitar and Tom Tilley on bass) stepped forward to embrace the panicked fever of the audience. Pitch-perfect renditions of Free of Fear and Feeling well and truly had the audience moving. And I mean moving. In fact, it was the kind of pushing and shoving generally reserved for acts with, shall we say, way more grit than the disco-bright pop-emulsion that Client Liaison delivers. It was genuinely hard to stand upright.

Sassy, ‘fitness-instructor’ dancers, clad in pink, black and molten-gold leotards, soon arrived on the stage and with Monte’s liquid motions, created a visual feast of sensual movement and light. It’s true that when Monte is on the stage, he’s knee-weakeningly commanding (despite the pastiche of 80s paraphernalia being funnelled to me on screens, like parliament house in the days of Keating, and the beloved Ansett Australia airline,) and although a touch too stern in his expression, Morgan’s voice is perfection; with enough femininity and youth to make it relatable, delivered with razor-sharp precision.

For me, only two songs fell flat – Rain (a Retiree mix) and Christine Anu’s respectably covered, mid-90s Aussie dance-them Party. I think people thought it was cool, but for me it just wasn’t necessary, juxtaposed with Client Liaison’s near-perfect, small backlog.

Soaring highs were reached with the tour-leading track Pretty Lovers, with its not all-together real, but-didn’t-really-care saxophone solo sending the audience into a tail-spin, and the ballad Queen, which glistened with sparkly keyboard and had the audience echoing Morgan’s lyrics as he strained towards them. Undeniably good, too, were the spirited Groove the Physical and the pulsating, dark-disco of the encore act of End of the Earth, which was spliced with samples of INXS’ Need You Tonight (a fucking stellar manoeuvre if you ask me.) Morgan and Miller finished the set on a high, with Morgan initially changing into an appropriately camp glitter jacket and then ending up shirtless, all skin and bones and dark curls, but still insanely desirable as he gyrated towards the last few moments of the set. With End of the Earth fading into silence amongst the cheers from the audience, Morgan blew a kiss and it was over.

My first time seeing Client Liaison, the disco-darlings lived up to my expectations and then some – what a fucking epic performance it was. Perhaps it was that they had been rained out the night before (what was initially thought to be an act of vandalism that stopped the set halfway through, actually was a case of sprinklers accidentally being set-off, leaving fans in despair and quite fairly unfulfilled), but the energy in the room on Saturday night reached fever-pitch time and time again as Client Liaison performed. I left the concert in ear-ringing bliss, damp all over from the sweaty dance-mess I’d just been a part of, and reluctantly let the cool night air into my lungs as I left what was, frankly, an amazing gig. It goes without saying, but please do pay those boys a visit sometime.

Check out Client Liaison with End of the Earth here, and if you want a little more, check out our photos of CL live with Flight Facilities!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvTSGyogzl8]