Review: ZHU | Forum Theatre, Melbourne

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Photo by Ben Cvoro / Curve Ball Festival 2016

It’s safe to assume that no matter the mystery, all are curious as to why ZHU has become such a desired figured in the genre of electronic dance music. As smoke and darkness pillaged the stage, the room barked loud with a cheer for the enigmatic producer. Of all the places on a cold wintery night, it is safe to assume that Melbourne’s illustrious Forum Theatre was in for a warm treat.

Amongst the smoke and the absolute grand sounding saxophone, two hooded figures arose. ZHU's new live show consists of usually three members - a Saxophonist, a guitar player and the mystery man himself. However the show lay absent to the guitar player, with ZHU promising things would still be done properly for the show. With matching hooded outfits, ZHU wore a pair of shades to cover his mystique. Opening things up we were sent back to day one, through the NightDay experience with Superfriends. The opening truly set a tone for the evening, with a sheer epic live experience being delved into through the assistance of fitting visuals.

The foundations of ZHU’s sound is built on being sexy, smooth and sleek. The visuals aided as every track played transported you into a different experience. Driving through the night's (and the tours) theme of 'Neon City', we then delved into some of his newer material with the massive collaboration with AlunaGeorge Automatic and his most recent release in In The Morning.

One of the biggest things taken from ZHU’s new live show is the addition of a Saxophone player. Ask anyone who has experienced this breathtaking live show and I am sure they will mention how brilliant this addition is. Having never experienced anything like this, especially through electronic dance music - it truly added another dynamic to the ZHU experience.

Continuing with the new, our senses were then stopped when ZHU announced we are about to hear a new track from his forthcoming debut album. I say stopped because, no one really knew what to do. The track fell a little flat, with its slow moving/pop sounding beat. However, not for one second can you knock ZHU’s ability to sing. He may not have the strongest voice, but there appears to be something ultra sleek and crisp about what he’s got available.

The back end of the live experience is where things really took a great turn as he delved into classics and favourites. Everyone likes to think of themselves as day one ZHU fans, but the producer gave a shout out to the true day ones in the crowd. Still a certified dancefloor banger, the room cheered and screamed through the first beat of Faded. Those that weew sitting down at The Forum seats rose with cameras in hand. Visually posting those hard hitting lyrics of the dancefloor burner on the big screen, the room felt united in sharing this amazing piece of dance music.

Working through his sexy catalogue of dance music, we then heard Hold Up Wait A Minute and Working For It (from his most recent EP Genesis Series), Cocaine Model and his crisp and much loved remix of West Coast by Lana Del Rey.  

Having pondered and waited in anticipation, the evening drew to a close with his massive cover (which is more a remix) of CHVRCHES' song Gun. The room was lit in yellow as visually we were transported to, you guessed it, a church through multicoloured church-like window features. The crowd swayed through the song's chorus which has become one of ZHU’s biggest hits. Again, his use of visuals throughout the evening was a huge highlight, with the screen at one point illuminating the release date of his debut album GenerationWhy out 29th July.

The landscape for experiencing electronic dance music live has grown significantly over recent years. Its appeal appears far more warranted than it has ever been before. What ZHU delivers through his new live show, is simply something that needs to be experienced. Channeling the sheer sexy and smooth through electronic music, his themes were delivered loud and clear during his impressive live show.