Even with a severe case of Man Flu, the Sultan of swagger still managed to put on a rockin’ good show.
Minutes after walking onto The Metro stage to a solid wave of whoops and cheers, and blasting through Blackbird album-opener Make Me Slip, it looked like Dan Sultan mightn’t last the night.
“I’ve gotta be honest with you…I’m sick as a f—ing dog” Sultan confessed early in the set, obviously disappointed with his physical condition. Numerous offers of fatherhood, shouted out – mainly – by those audience members in possession of ovaries, confirmed his fans did not share the same disappointment. They were here to support a guy whose music they love, and if he was feeling under the weather that just meant they were going to “cheer” him up in a very literal sense.
Sultan’s crowd is an eclectic bunch, consisting of hipster fortysomethings and happy-go-party young ‘uns with a beverage in each hand. They mingled happily, dancing and whooping to the catchy rock riffs and egging on every little groin-thrust and hair-flick from the man they had paid to see. The adoration was not wasted on Sultan, who stopped mid-set to thank this particular crowd for being “inspiring”. He doesn’t let it go to his head though. “You’re so hot Dan!” screamed one enthusiastic fan, to which Sultan quipped “I’m hot? Of course I’m f—ing hot – I’m under all these lights!”.
Warming (perhaps literally) to the support of his audience and the high-energy material, Sultan didn’t let his virus-riddled state interfere with the rock n’ roll we’d been promised. He coughed a little, chugged some water, then proceeded to sing like a man who had little concern for his vocal chords (or the fact that he has twelve more gigs lined up for the Blackbird tour). Throwing in extra guitar pyrotechnics when his voice needed a rest, by the time Sultan closed a three-song encore with the exhilarating Kimberley Calling, we’d almost forgotten we owed this gig to cold-and-flu meds.
The set list was clearly designed to promote Sultan’s new album Blackbird, and the crowd was duly pleased with brand new rockers like Ain’t Thinking About You and The Same Man. Popular 2013 single Under Your Skin sparked a raucous crowd singalong, but when Sultan pulled a few from the archives Old Fitzroy sparked renewed cheering and flailing limbs all across the dance floor. It was clear last night’s crowd had been with Sultan for a while.
Evidently both thrilled and relieved to be writing again, Dan paused to reflect on the purpose of this tour – his new album. “It’s been a while between records, friends” he sighed, curiously vulnerable for a moment (his last full-length release was 2009’s Get Out While You Can), but the ensuing cheers promised a warm welcome for the new material. Indeed, Blackbird is proof that we should be thrilled and relieved Dan’s writing again too. 3.5/5
Dan Sultan’s third studio album Blackbird is out now, through Liberation Records.