Elsie Oulton reviews the Australian band as they bring their UK tour to Leeds.
Known for their droll, full wattage, live shows – Confidence Man took to Stylus on Thursday (17th November) as one of the final stops on their UK tour, for a surreal evening of electro-pop. To kick things off, front duo ‘Janet Planet’ and ‘Sugar Bones’ sheepishly strutted onto stage in David Byrne-esque ‘Stop Making Sense’ suits, opening with Tilt album track ‘Toy Boy’. The lyrics, ‘With a face like that there’s no conversation, with an ass like that there’s no hesitation’ set the tone for a powerhouse set drenched in irony, wit and above all - joy.
Planet and Bones (Grace Stephenson and Adain Moore, respectively) are the only two visible members of the quartet- taking centre stage, whilst the two remaining play keyboard and drums, shrouded in black beekeeper suits hiding their faces. Despite taking place in the University’s club venue, with a humble capacity of 1000, the number of outfit changes and interludes evoked that of a Gaga stadium gig; the show was a self-aware parody of the form, taking the notion of a live gig to heightened extremes.
Having slipped out of the oversized suits, the duo reappeared in slinky jumpsuits to perform a set rammed with dance bangers and synchronised, unhinged dancing. Planet dominated the vocals as Bones cavorted around the stage with a Bowie-esque swagger. They pranced around the stage like two best friends hyping themselves up for a party, to hits such as ‘Feels like a different thing’ and ‘Boyfriend (Repeat)’. It felt more like a party than a gig; when the two of them were off stage getting changed, the crowd were equally hyped – celebrating when the two of them came back, to join the communal rave.
The live highlight was 2018 single ‘Don’t You Know I’m In a Band’: a witty take on the god complex that can easily come from being a successful artist. Bones lent into the role; exaggeratedly reaching out to the crowd’s hands, ripping open his shirt, and gratuitously shaking a bottle of champagne before spraying it over the front few rows. The show as a whole was slick but spontaneous, a well-oiled machine but with leeway for mistakes, and the crowd could barely keep up.
The production values enjoyed a humorous dichotomy; extravagant lighting aligned with the walloping beats, set against gloriously low-tech kit: household fans were placed precariously at the front of the stage, blowing their hair in a L’oreal advert fashion, and handheld torches provided lighting during the encore.
Returning for this playful encore- the band reined in the show with a cover of DJ Sammy’s ‘Heaven’ which complemented the setlist and even got the rogue non-students in the room singing along from the ‘civilised’ upper balconies of Stylus. These final shows of the ‘Tilt’ Tour mark the end of a behemoth year for the band, with hugely successful and crowded sets at festivals such as Glastonbury and Primavera Sound.
The party of a gig continued in a Leeds bar full of fans after the show, the band reposting an Instagram video of Planet and Bones dancing on bar stools to hit ‘Holiday’. They captioned it simply: ‘don’t encourage us.’
Words: Elsie Oulton
Photo credit: Instagram, @confidenceman