Melbourne’s Architecture in Helsinki brought back a lot of what you forgot you loved about the eighties with their over-the-top, raucous set. Playing New York City’s Gramercy Theater (QRO venue review) on Thursday, October 11th, this massive collection of multi-instrumentalists played less like the Aussie version of Canadian collectives, than like a twenty-first century version of strange, fun, foreign acts of the eighties like Men At Work and The English Beat. Exciting and excited from the get-go, Architecture in Helsinki delivered an ultra-active on-stage party.
Touring on the back of the recently-released Places Like This (QRO review), Architecture’s set-list drew roughly equally from Places and the prior In Case We Die (2005), but perhaps the most representative song of the night was a cover of Mental As Anything’s #1 Aussie hit of 1985, “Live It Up”. Frontman Cameron Bird led into the piece by telling of its New York City connections, as it was playing in the background of the high-class eighties party scene, where Paul Hogan stuck out like a sore thumb, in the one-and-only Crocodile Dundee. Perhaps a little slower and grander than other songs that night, its Two Tone-meets-New Wave nature completely reflected the exciting alt-hop explosion of Architecture in Helsinki. And the young, mostly female crowd seemed like Molly Ringwald, 2.0.
Overall, the performance was strongest at the beginning and the end, with a few songs after “Live It Up” lagging slightly. The fun was laid down early on with Places tracks like the driving, rhythmic jam “Red Turned To White”, the weird-wa-wa jump-jiving of “Like It Or Not”, and the straightforward bongo-bop of “Nothing’s Wrong”, along with the In Case crowd favorite (and sing-along) “It’5”. The strong final third was more Case-heavy, hitting top tracks off that record, like the celebratory and wry “Wishbone”, the collective stop-start anthem “The Cemetery” (Wales’ Los Campesinos! owe a lot to that number), and the Casio-crunking “Do the Whirlwind”, along with great Places pieces like the puts-the-‘fun’-in-funky “Debbie” and dance-call “Hold Music”. And for their encore return, Architecture hit it with Case’s sublime opener, “Neverevereverdid”, and the audience participatory Places’ single, “Heart It Races”.
Architecture in Helsinki playing "Heart It Races" live @ Blender Theater at Gramercy, New York, NY:
Also see them playing "Neverevereverdid"
Bird and fellow singer Kellie Sutherland may have led the jamboree on stage, but it seemed like everyone was running all around, from drums to keyboards to guitars to trombone to cowbell. There was even a quick-acting roadie right there on the side of the stage, with a suitcase full of tools just on hand, fixing everything from busted pick-ups to knocked-over amps. The stage lights moved around almost as quickly as the band, lighting up anyone and everyone. Architecture in Helsinki’s sounds are so sweet they might put you in a diabetic coma, if it weren’t for the fact that you’re burning all that energy just as quickly, as you move your feet.