LIVE REVIEW: Alunageorge in Melbourne

It has been a few years since their debut album Body Music dropped and Alunageorge have been heading steadily towards electro-pop stardom status in the most effortless, understated manner possible. Tonight, they (though without George for live performances it is an Aluna Francis solo performance) have filled Melbourne’s Corner Hotel, just as they did their previous visit. If ever there was a performance so fitting for a sweltering summer’s night, it is AlunaGeorge accompanied by a live drummer and keyboardist.

The stage has been prepared for them by Melbourne duo Fortunes, Future Classic’s only recent signees. The soothing ebb and flow of their hip-hop meets R&B meets soul sound could not be a more perfect introduction.Their new single 501’s a slinky, sultry meander that sees them confirm their status as charismatic and utterly captivating, no doubt gaining a few new fans as they readied the crowd for the headline performance.

Singing from the side of the stage as her backing musicians situate themselves, Aluna Francis dances into view, the red cape she’s donned floating out behind her, set to become a feature of the show all on its down. They waste little time, diving head first into the triumphant Hold Your Head High which is quickly followed by Jealous, the set already as heated as the air outside the venue. The ZHU collaboration, Automatic is tinny, frenetic and pulsating, pulling the crowd into hypnosis with a command to dance. It finishes with Francis’ unsupported, a capella and spectacular vocals. It is so seamless that it is only when there’s a lengthy pause after the cheers cool down, that the singer points out that the power has blown out and the a cappella ending was entirely unintentional. If that ability to keep the performance going so effortlessly is not the mark of a fine artist, then what is?

She entertains the audience with tales of how this isn’t not a rarity, having happened a number of times beforehand. It’s understandable, the temperature is high and it’s muggy inside. After finding someone celebrating their birthday and serenading them with Happy Birthday (“I used to charge a fiver for this!” she tells us), she slips from the stage with hopes that she will return shortly.

Minutes pass and there’s a buzz going around that perhaps three songs, while wonderful, are all we’re getting tonight. The restlessness is answered when the band return drinks in hand and fly into Mean What I Mean. There are a handful more technical difficulties as Attracting Flies and Not Above Love fill the air, but by the time the anthemic Your Drums, Your Love rolls around, things seem to be back on track properly. Just as well, because this is the singular, glistening jewel of the set: Francis’ vocals starting low and commanding before soaring all the way up for the chorus. She has the flexibility and strength of the boxer she’s dressed as while she commands the audience to help her out. 

Earlier in the set, Francis pointed out that she is so often in Australia she feels at home here, and the connection between the English artist and this audience is evident as Under Control sees out the main section of the set.

There is a very brief break, no doubt due to the earlier interruption, before everyone is back on stage to play the two songs whose absence earlier had not gone unnoticed. They kick off their encore with White Noise, the cape Aluna had made her dancing partner during the main set now amiss. The reception for White Noise is surpassed only by the rattling roar once they move on to the last song of the night. You Know You Like It is as gloriously glitch and pulsating live as it is on record – perhaps even more so as the sea of bodies oscillates to the rhythm in a spectacular finish to the night. The band leaves the stage, all memories of technical difficulties are transcended by Aluna Francis’ truly striking performance.

Image: abc