As Darren Hayes told the Star Observer last month when we asked what to expect of his Australian tour: “I’m a gay man — of course it’s going to theatrical.”

He lived up to his word, arriving on stage at the Enmore last night for Taken By The Sea, the stunning opener to new album Secret Codes and Battleships, carrying a blue neon umbrella and stalking the stage like a cast member from Singin’ In The Rain.

Hayes’ occasionally camp theatrics — on-stage costume changes, light-up props and even a full face of makeup for one odd excursion into cabaret noir — were a welcome addition to the show, which thankfully leaned heavily toward the stronger tracks on his occasionally uneven new album.

Hayes’ hit-heavy set also included several Savage Garden classics, much to the delight of his loyal fans — The Animal Song and an inspired mash-up of Break Me, Shake Me and Billie Jean earned the biggest cheers of the night, although it should be noted he dropped Savage Garden’s 1996 debut single I Want You from the setlist for the Sydney show.

And while he’s since said that he views 2007’s sprawling double disc effort This Delicate Thing We’ve Made as his wilfully self-indulgent album, tracks like Casey, Me Myself and I and On The Verge Of Something

Wonderful are amongst the best pop songs of his career, and would have been welcome additions here. Certainly more so than his ever-creepy debut solo single Insatiable, which remains perhaps the unsexiest song ever to be penned about sex.

These are mere quibbles though, as Hayes, in fine voice throughout, worked the audience into ecstasy with a mix of current favourites (outstanding stadium anthem Bloodstained Heart, almost lifting the roof off the Enmore) and forgotten gems (the eternally heartbreaking Savage Garden ballad, I Don’t Know You Any More).

Earlier, prodigious ukelele-strumming singer-songwriter Brendan Maclean easily won over the crowd with his engaging warm-up set, his rich vocals soaring over Ben Foldsesque arrangements and razor-sharp lyrics.
One couldn’t help but think it won’t be too long before he’s headlining his own show at the Enmore.

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