Clever beggars ... Sydney duo Kim Moyes and Julian Hamilton. Photo: Darren Pateman
Enmore Theatre, February 11
Reviewers rating: 3.5 stars
HEY Boo-Boo, if the Presets were less sleek and more ursine, you'd declare that they are smarter than the average pic-a-nic basket.
Clever beggars, the Sydney duo Kim Moyes and Julian Hamilton have travelled from purveyors of dance-floor bangers with subtle insights to broadly appealing technicians keen to make a (social and political) point to melody-seeking, emotion-bearing songwriters. That's impressive enough but they've done this without having to shed one element to accommodate the other: with the Presets now, you get it all and you get it good.
The confidence that comes with this means they can afford to build into a set rather than smack us in the face from the start to make sure we're paying attention. The relatively restrained tempos and slightly cloudier horizons of Push and A New Sky move the air, while Girl and the Sea shifts the momentum gradually as it progresses. We've been given thinking time and it's working and while it is a full 15 minutes before Fall kicks in the first burst of euphoria for the night, the pleasure of it is all the greater for having emerged naturally.
From then on we're manipulated expertly. Moyes and Hamilton ease back and surge, get tough and then almost pretty with If I Know You and Promises before the martial beat (and US marine corps call-and-response) of Ghosts has us running up that hill together. We're primed now and dancing is unstoppable as This Boy's in Love sets up rolling rhythms and I Go Hard, I Go Home and Youth in Trouble merge into a thundering beast that swallows up the succeeding call-to-action of My People.
(And while we're at it, ignore those fatuous declarations that protest songs have just reappeared thanks to one hip hop hit. As the Presets show, they've been around, just not on Mix FM.)
Masterly control seems an incongruous description when you look at Moyes and Hamilton flinging themselves about the stage with as much pleasure as the packed room. However, even with my quibble about length (the set proper was about 10 minutes too long) it fits a band capable of doing whatever they please right now. Kick it Boo-Boo!