Young Hearts Run Free
The Tivoli, Brisbane
9 September, 2017
It’s an audacious concept – recreate the entire soundtrack album to an audacious movie in its entirely live on stage.
It’s been two decades since visionary Aussie filmmaker Baz Luhrmann set William Shakespeare’s “Romeo + Juliet” in a contemporary California setting. Featuring huge hit singles for The Cardigans, Kym Mazelle and Des’ree and reaching number one on the Australian charts, the soundtrack album was to many not just a soundtrack to the movie, but a soundtrack to an important time of their youth.
The “Young Hearts Runs Free” masquerade-ball saw all songs from the soundtrack album performed back-to-back at Tivoli to kick off the Brisbane Festival, a 22-day celebration of art, theatre and music.
A pink and violet glow washes over a huge crowd gathered at the Tivoli, as Brisbane’s most regal and opulent venue is transformed into the city’s most grandiose nightclub.
It’s a Mardi Gras atmosphere on the packed dance floor as party-goers, with dress sense ranging from guys in Montague gang floral shirts to girls wearing angel wings. Zorro, a NASA astronaut, ancient Greeks, a nun and the devil are there too.
After a DJ warms up the crowd with a mish-mash of dance hits, from Yothu Yindi, CeCe Peniston and Stardust, to Everything But the Girl and Mousse T, and a welcome to country speech and rousing call for justice and equality, the venue lights dim.
The crowd goes nuts as the words “In fair Verona” appear on a big screen above the stage, before the evening’s house band and vocalists Tom Dickins and Lucinda Shaw start the show with soundtrack opener “#1 Crush”. Trading verses with Shaw, Dickins’ low-pitched vocals initially give the song a Nick Cave feel before reverting to a cool facsimile of Garbage’s slow-burn original.
As footage from “Romeo + Juliet” corresponding to that scene’s music is shown on the big screen, the crowd moves a whole lot more when the band tackles ‘Local God’ by Everclear, a band which will play the same venue late this month.
Triple J favourite Airling and vocal partner Greg Chiapello perfectly deliver the dreamlike, low-key groove of “Angel” (Gavin Friday), then comes the sleazy industrial trip-hop of “Pretty Piece of Flesh”. Sitting between Once Inch Punch’s tune and the similarly styled “Whatever (I Had a Dream)” by Butthole Surfers is the first bravura performance of the night: the much adored love theme for “Romeo + Juliet”.
Cheers also drown out the piano intro for “Kissing You”, singer Bec Laughton’s beautiful rendition of Des’ree’s heart-wrenching hit song, with accompanying violin. A stunning performance, while women swoon at Leonardo DiCaprio on the big screen and the singles in the crowd wish they weren’t single.
Now it’s time to party. The Cardigans hit “Lovefool”, with a three-piece 60s girl group vocals, gets bodies moving and evokes the first big sing-a-long of the night, before Electric Fields blows the roof off the place.
Singer Zaachariaha Fielding is the consummate star – a powerful voice, huge charisma and stage presence to match – as the Adelaide act powers through the uplifting “Young Hearts Run Free”. The mouths of transfixed punters stay agape during the singer’s stunning rendition of “Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good)”, starting like Quindon Tarver’s acapella take on the song then segues into the dancefloor version.
The house band returns to the stage with an array of guest vocalists including Airling and Giema Contini, to run through the underwhelming (and likely forgotten) “To You I Bestow” (by Mundy) and “Little Star” (Stina Nordenstam) and a cool reproduction of Radiohead’s trippy “Talk Show Host”.
“You and Me Song” lacks the zest of The Wannadies’ hit but Dickins and company redeem themselves with a sublime version of Radiohead’s haunting “Exit Music (For a Film)”, before all the show’s musicians crowd onstage to get down to Prince’s “When Doves Cry”, ending a night of nostalgia, cool tunes, epic costumes – and a hell of a lot of glitter.
Words by Lee Oliver