Homecoming King: Troye Sivan’s Return To Australia Was Worth The Wait
The crowd may have been wearing denim chaps and akubras with disco balls, but Troye Sivan's showmanship couldn't be matched.
“I love stealing things from innocent people,” says Troye Sivan, eyeing off the outfits in the front rows of his ‘Yee-Haw’-themed Sydney concert. He spots a “pure glamour” pink cowboy hat, but doesn’t really steal it so much as politely ask if it ‘can be mine now’. The fan, of course, agrees.
We’re halfway through Sivan’s show at Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion. It’s taken more than a year after he released Bloom, his sophomore album, to see the Perth-raised pop star tour the country, and it’s clear we’ve been waiting.
Before Sivan starts, rhinestone cowboys wearing denim chaps and akubras with disco balls practically run into the hall, and those slightly underdressed are sporting pride flags in their back pockets, ready to whip out — while the energy ramps up during Sivan’s brother Tyde Levi’s and Thelma Plum’s supporting sets, they’re saving the big moves for later on.
But things start slow, with ‘Seventeen’, Bloom‘s bittersweet ballad where Sivan looks back at his first sexual encounter with mixed emotions of tenderness and confusion. A verse in, slow leads to stop when a different song starts playing, and Sivan apologises for a “very, very weird technical issue” before picking things up again in a minute.
It doesn’t matter: the crowd sing back the verses back as if the first time was just a rehearsal.
We move on straight away into ‘Bloom’, Sivan’s bop about bottoming, and he twirls across the stage in a silver suit, in drum breaks punching the air with every beat, removing his jacket in one sleek movement when things get too hot. It’s a stadium-level theatricality — admittedly, without the technical bells and whistles, but it proved that Sivan is more than capable of the world’s biggest stages.
Yet, he plays coy, at once point saying that “Sydney is a bit scary to play”.
It’s fascinating to watch Sivan perform, blitzing through Bloom‘s synth-y, sinewy love songs and ballads, mixed in with selects from his first album, Blue Neighbourhood, including a hoe-down throw-down verse of ‘Youth’, banjo midis and all. For all of his showmanship, in-between songs he chats and connects with the casualness he honed back as a YouTube star: even though it’s hard to have a conversation with a 5,500+ person crowd, there’s a sense he’s talking with them, feeding off their energy in a sincere way.
“You guys are going off like it’s the first concert you’ve ever been to,” he says. “It makes me infinitely more present, I feel 100 percent alert…. it just makes me feel like everything’s going to be okay.”
After grabbing the pink cowboy hat, Sivan lays on a couch at the stage’s back through three of Bloom‘s down-tempo songs, ‘Postcard’, ‘The Good Side’ and ‘What A Heavenly Way To Die’. The set-up, while simple, recalls the way so many fans experience these songs — languishing alone in their bedrooms, belting it out with melodrama.
After we get it all out, we dance: Sivan plays through his verse on Charli XCX’s ‘2099‘, which only some of the audience seem to know, before launching into ‘1999’, singing Charli’s part for her. He follows it up with ‘Dance To Me’, his song with Ariana Grande, and pockets of the crowd keep yelling out “GAY RIGHTS!” during the trifecta.
Sivan lets the audience in on a secret: the next song, ‘Animal’, isn’t really his last, but wants us all to pretend it is.
The audience obliges, but he comes back with a cowboy look, politely declining a shoey in-between and apologising for having to take off his green heels but demanding the audience celebrate them. After an all-too brief circuit party interlude of ‘My My My!’, Sivan launches into the full thing with a coquettish strut that’s both sincere and posturing — a hyper-performance with a bit of truth, something that lets the audience play and dance along.
No song defines that tone more than ‘Old Town Road’, which starts to play as soon as the lights go up. The cowboys in the crowd keep dancing, to the dismay of security, but Sivan knows what his audience want.
Troye Sivan’s Bloom tour continues this week in Brisbane and Melbourne.
All photos by Mikki Gomez, via Live Nation.
Jared Richards is a staff writer at Junkee, and co-host of Sleepless In Sydney on FBi Radio. His Yee-Haw look was quite good.