Friday, March 30, 2007

The Hayes code

Today a colleague playfully—I think—called me evil. But how can I be evil when I go weak in the knees thinking about Darren Hayes? Really, it's just a metaphysical impossibility.

What possessed me to go see Hayes—oh hell, let's just call him Darren—at Joe's Pub last night? Savage Garden, of which he was half, used to send me to sleep. In addition, I'd heard only a couple of his solo songs, including the admittedly excellent "Popular." Actually what pushed me into going was the fact that Darren's two gigs sold out in something like ten minutes. Who wouldn't want to see for herself what could prompt such fandom?

Result? As much as I enjoyed seeing Justin Timberlake a few weeks ago, Darren came very near to obliterating his scrawny little Mouseketeer ass.

The quickest way to describe Darren and his solo music is as a male version of Kylie Minogue. Like Kylie, Darren is an Aussie now living in London. Like Kylie, he's perfected a specific kind of dance-pop that's very Euro. As the Sheila remarked, "It's Eurovision night at Joe's Pub!" Little else need be said. Oh okay, if you insist…

Darren's releasing a 25-track (!) album titled This Delicate Thing We've Made (!!) in August, so I'm sure I'll come back to the songs themselves. The thing that really struck me is how damn good a performer he is. None of that "I'm going to show you my intimate, emotional side ’cause I'm in a small venue" crap: He sold it as if he was playing to 15,000 people, not 150. That falsetto! Those dance moves! Combine the two, as in a turbocharged cover of Prince's "Baby I'm a Star" (which slyly incorporated bits of the aforementioned "Popular") and…oooh, there goes the knees again. About midway through the evening, the Sheila and I realized we had huge, uncontrollable grins plastered to our faces and eyes the size of saucers. Not a pretty sight, I can assure you.

As for the Darren freaks dedicated enough to grab those tix, much to my surprise they were 90% female—I'd expected more gay men, if only because Darren's so pop these days. But I think the women in the audience had really gotten into him back in his Savage Garden days and have remained faithful to the cause through the years. So faithful that an astonishingly large number went to both gigs. Remember that metal show I saw at Roseland last week? Both crowds were polar opposites in their composition yet similar in their die-hard fandom. Now that'll warm the evilest soul.

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