In a year marked by huge releases from Australian artists, D.D Dumbo’s Utopia Defeated left a mark of its own. With infinite replay value, the album still sounds fresh ten months after its initial release. When the Castlemaine native announced he was embarking on a national tour celebrating his debut, the response was akin to that if the record was brand new.
Utopia Defeated, winner of Triple J’s prestigious J Award for Album of The Year, is a cavalcade of vivid imagery, told by way of serrated pop. The album explores themes of ominous ecological doom, through a lens of puzzled existentialism. D.D, real name Oliver Perry, has taken painstaking time workshopping the transition of this intricate body of work for live performance. It was worth the wait.
Sydney’s Metro Theatre was buzzing from the get-go, with punters rolling up from doors open to flood the air with excited chatter. The show, as with many other dates on the tour, was sold out and another had been added for the previous night. D.D would be supported by Bus Vipers and Jonti, two fellow multi-instrumentalists who were more than up to the task.
Sydney-based Bus Vipers, armed with fresh single ‘CSIRO Weeds’, was all falsetto and funk; his sunny garage pop sound serving perfectly to warm up the eager crowd. He was followed by Sydney producer Jonti, who filled the room with his brand of upbeat synth. Vibrant melodies flowed dreamily beneath his spacey vocals, reminiscent of Kevin Parker. Included in Jonti’s setlist was recent single ‘Scrood’, his first solo material in five years.
Perry and his band took to the stage to deafening sounds of approval from the excited crowd who cheered in anticipatory glee. Almost immediately they swung into a long instrumental, which the audience recognised as the opening chords to ‘Walrus’. Building in the abstract sounds and textures that are Utopia Defeated’s signature, Perry and his band were tight. Recreating the complex nuances of the album was absolutely no mean feat, but this they achieved with ease.
Perry’s voice rang clear in all its glory; he sounds just as good live as he does on the record. On stage, he is extremely earnest, totally engaged, and very much in his element. At times he seems slightly manic as he messes with wind chimes and belts out sounds you wouldn’t be blamed for disputing had even come from a human mouth. He introduced his band with wild-eyed glee and cracked jokes at his own expense, to the delight of his fans.
The outfit went on to play several more cuts from Utopia Defeated and 2014’s Tropical Oceans EP. Standout track ‘In The Water’ was perhaps not paid its full dues, seeming unfocused and slightly rushed. However, by the time the jagged synth and funky drums of ‘Cortisol’ rolled in, the groove was back.
The sinister ‘King Franco Picasso’ was a highlight of the show, with Perry himself playing clarinet in the instrumental break, nailing the menacing woodwind melody.
Perry informed the audience that he’d be ‘keeping it low key’ for another couple of songs and that he’d ‘see how we were doing’ after. He followed with ‘The Day I First Found God’ and ‘Toxic City’, which were both received well and performed attentively.
When familiar percussion announced the arrival of ‘Satan’, the crowd were ecstatic. The band attacked the infectious lead single from Utopia Defeated with gusto. Perry’s vocals are as on point as ever, even as he howls through the track’s epic climax.
They close out the show with a frenzied rendition of ‘Brother’. The song is already defined by its quirky urgency, with horns and percussion working in unison to whip listeners up into a fever pitch, and these aspects are only amplified when played live.
Perry and his band perfectly captured the raw energy of the D.D Dumbo sound and meticulously recreated the unique tone of the album. The show seemed to fly by fast without a dull moment, leaving fans thrilled and charmed.