French electro has never been a genre I’ve spent much time on getting familiar with. Short of Daft Punk and Justice (who I only ‘discovered’ after Audio, Video, Disco came out) my knowledge is incredibly limited so when I was asked to review M83, I really wasn’t sure if I was the best person for the job. I threw on their latest album, Junk, and within a few songs decided that it’d probably be worth checking them out. I mean, they headlined Laneway last time they were here and both their shows at The Forum were sold out so I figured, at the very least, it wasn’t going to be total shit.

I staked out a spot as my gigging companion brought some drinks back from the bar and said “I know about two songs of theirs.” “Two more than I do,” I responded before the house lights went down and M83’s elaborate light show illuminated the stage. The opening notes of ‘Reunion’ filled the theatre and my companion turned to me and signed “That’s one.” During the synth heavy breakdown of the otherwise guitar-driven opener, band-leader Anthony Gonzales addressed the crowd, recalling that they hadn’t played Melbourne for a long time and declaring “last time was a disaster so let’s make it better.” As they finished up and went straight into ’Do It, Try It,’ my companion turned again and signed “Two” and I was a little unsure why both songs she knew would be so high in the set.

The rest of the set was good, certainly different to what I’d expected, with Gonzales and guitarist/bassist Jordan Lawlor and drummer Loïc Maurin bringing more rock elements than I’d presumed an electro group would deliver. Just as I started to think that I’d mislabeled them, ‘Bibi The Dog’ made its way into the set and I thought the electro tag fit perfectly. The guys near me were particularly impressed (and surprisingly, not in a gross way) as newest member Kaela Sinclair took the lead on a few songs, notably ‘Oblivion,’ and completely nailed it. The opening of ‘Midnight City’ garnered a massive reaction from the crowd, including my friend who excitedly turned and signalled “Three!” but it weirdly wasn’t the end of the set.

Once the set did come to a close, M83 came back for a three song encore that, to me at least, felt like one extended jam and didn’t add a great deal to the experience. The biggest issue though was that the show, while spectacular, was completely unmemorable and thinking back, I’m really not sure what songs were played apart from the big ones. And no, not knowing any probably didn’t help.

Wes Fahey

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