Temper Trap: stripped back and proving why they’re one of Australia’s best bands

As one of our nation’s most iconic bands, The Temper Trap re-established why their status is so well renowned.

  • }
Image source: 
Lee Dot

Having spent the most part of my gig-going lifespan standing in sticky mosh pits, and leaning on harsh, cold crowd barriers, sitting in the pillowy and comfortable Melbourne Recital Centre seats was a welcome change. Within seconds of Melbourne sweetheart Didirri taking the stage it was clear the night was going to be an engaging one of stripped-back, acoustic tunes.
Didirri looked at home atop the vast Melbourne Recital Centre stage, holding his guitar high and comfortably speaking to the audience. The latter was a clear audience favourite as audience members gasped or laughed at his either shockingly personal or hilariously relatable explanations for the songs in his setlist.
Throughout his whole set, Didirri captured everyone’s hearts and earned their undivided attention. A cover of Joe Pug’s ‘Soldier’ and an original ‘Blind You’ proved his instrumental and vocal abilities, as his single guitar and his voice filled every corner of the room. There was a particular moment where Didirri stopped playing and sang out, acapella. On its lonesome, his voice was expressive and serene. His musical abilities, and his philosophical outlook on life – shown through his lyrics and his lovely ramblings between each song –  makes Didirri a shining wonder of a musician and a character. His dynamic music and personality perfectly set the audience up for the main event, and left many wanting more from the lovely support act.
One by one, each member of The Temper Trap took to the stage, which was now decked with high chairs and a drum kit. When the band was finally seated, lead singer Dougy Mandagi welcomed the audience to “a civilised evening with The Temper Trap,” which, for the most part, was an apt way to describe the set. Fans of the band know that a Temper Trap song usually has layered, thick synths, explosive drums and gigantic guitar parts, but on this night, the usual Temper Trap sound was stripped back in a marvellous way. Tracks off their newer LP Thick As Thieves, like ‘Summer’s Almost Gone’, and ‘What If I’m Wrong’ were splendid reimaginings of the originals with hit ‘Fall Together’ earning audience excitement and applause.
Without the crowded layers of the original recordings, Mandagi’s voice soared around the hall, filling every possible space. His iconic voice switched between glorious vibrato chest voice to undeniably clean and passionate head voice with ease. Underneath his voice were delightful varying instrumental couplings. One song there may have been a trio of acoustic guitars, or just one lonesome guitar, or two guitars and an electric bass, with each pair sounding divine as the other. With the inclusion of a drum kit and egg shaker, the acoustic numbers still had a propulsive energy to them, especially older ‘Conditions’ cuts like ‘Fools’ and ‘Science of Fear’. Cuts from their 2012 self-titled album as well like ‘The Sea Is Calling’, ‘Everybody Leaves In The End’, and ‘Trouble With Pain’ all translated perfectly acoustically. The standout version of a perfect translation was ‘Need Your Love’. A song that usually has booming drums and thick synths, transformed into a song that would be welcome at a campfire singalong with the song’s intricate melodies and harmonies interpreted into a simple yet divine number.
Other originally soft tunes like ‘Love Lost’ and ‘Soldier On’, a personal favourite of mine, didn’t need to change much at all and were beautifully emotional stripped back. With such a vast collection of the band’s hits it was hard to keep track of how long the set had been going for. So when the band snidely introduced ‘Sweet Disposition’ with “this is a new one, you’ve probably never heard of it,” the laughing audience stood up in adoration as soon as the song’s iconic guitar opening sounded. This is where the night turned uncivilised. En masse the crowd started clapping and singing along with many awkwardly swaying and dancing along. With the atmosphere completely changing in the space of seconds, one would think they were at a festival show with the amount of passionate and dancing fans. As the set wrapped and the band left the stage, fans booed and begged for more songs from the band as a stage hand shook his head to signal everyone to leave.
As one of our nation’s most iconic bands, The Temper Trap re-established why their status is so well renowned. Despite being humble, their status as one of Australia’s best bands was reiterated throughout this electric and splendid night.
Highlight: Jonathon, the band’s bassist, taking a break to go sit with his mum in the audience.
Lowlight: The lady in front of me telling me to stop cheering Didirri on because it “hurt her ears” – also no ‘Trembling Hands’.
Crowd favourite: ‘Sweet Disposition’.