Review: Fatboy Slim at Red Hill Auditorium, Perth, 19 January 2018
Few names are as synonymous with dance music in the UK as Norman Cook, more commonly known as Fatboy Slim. Now in his fifties, he was the impetus for some of the craziest scenes on Brighton Beach. His Beach Boutique II gathered numbers in excess of 250,000 at what was only expected to be a crowd of 60,000. So it was unsurprising that the Perth leg of his Australian tour sold out long before the day itself.
Fatboy Slim is an icon in the UK. So as the buses pulled into Red Hill Auditorium from all points of Perth, there was a British vibe in the air. At the eager bottleneck entering the venue, all the ingredients of the great dialect stew were represented.
Henry Saiz was first up, seeing out the sunset behind the decks. The Spaniard curated the perfect atmosphere for the magical descent of the sun, while the cascading amphitheatre provided great vantage points, no matter your position.
As darkness fell, Motez took the stage and the intensity shifted a couple of notches. As the sole Australian representative on the bill Motez really got the crowd involved. He played with aggression as he rolled through everything from bass house to piano-heavy Chicago tunes. Engaging and entertaining.
It was an older crowd; unpretentious and comfortable. No one appeared to conflate the music event with a fashion parade – something younger revellers have a tendency to do – but that didn’t stop them partying just as hard.
No one appeared to conflate the music event with a fashion parade – something younger revellers have a tendency to do – but that didn’t stop them partying just as hard.
Gorgon City (British producers Foamo and RackNRuin) had the challenge of being the penultimate set of the night. There is an etiquette. You can’t outplay the headline act. Admittedly for a big name like Gorgon City, it would be difficult to avoid the big beat temptations and keep the audience bubbling at peak anticipation. They showed their maturity as experienced artists, playing a diverse and nuanced set, manoeuvring through deep and melodic house to neo acid tracks. A respectful hour and a half.
Many punters channelled the Fatboy look with loud and loose Hawaiian shirts. Passing through the crowd, you could hear nostalgic anecdotes. Their first clubbing experience, catching him as a resident at Amnesia in Ibiza, hearing him play unforgettable sets in Brighton or London or Bristol. The man had a place in the people’s hearts. Phones were pulled from pockets as the moment grew near.
Fatboy’s set was an experience created for a wide audience. The transitions felt almost too meticulous and as large CGI figures sang along to tracks, one could question how much of the set was premeditated or scripted. There were flirtations with former hits, teasing the crowd with snippets but never anything more. Most of the set was taken up with well-known contemporary bangers from the last five to 10 years. Diehard fans might have been disappointed, but it was to be expected. Fatboy Slim is no longer an obscure selector having to prove his worth. He’s a well-known, crowd-pleasing showman with a utilitarian approach.
Despite differing opinions among the crowd, you couldn’t dispute the energy Cook brought. Once you accept that Fatboy Slim is a brand and his performance an unrelenting experience, you understand just how much of an impact he has had. From those parties on Brighton Beach to Red Hill Auditorium, one thing has never wavered. Fatboy Slim brings the good times.