YOU AM I - DAILY DOUBLE
Something was different. Four songs in, after the aching opener, and the double-shimmy of Good Morning and Mr. Milk, it became apparent what this point of difference was: no camera-phones. No night-lights dotted throughout the audience, no anxious capturing of a muffled, red flood of lighting-and-not-much-else to saviour/translate later. Just a sea of fans watching the band in front of them: singing, bopping, dancing, chatting excitedly, all of that. No screens, though. Is this generational or just borne out of the special sort of reverence reserved for this band, for these albums?
After all, we already have recordings of these two albums – good recordings too: we already have the cracked cases, and bent booklets – albums which we have lived in, and leaned on, and loved for different reasons at different times. A.H. Cayley has already written about this topic masterfully, a tough task for experiences as singular yet shared as these, but for all Hi Fi Way and Hourly Daily’s evergreen appeal, You Am I have always been a completely different beast live: as uncontrollable and wayward as these albums are dependable and consistent. A You Am I live show is exciting and visceral, and their approach to the live show as an experience is important in understanding the band’s appeal.
This isn’t merely a You Am I show though, this is an exercise in looking back, in celebrating two quick shots within two years from a band at their peak, and – seen in some quarters as – an exercise in finally cementing these two albums as the You Am I albums, despite early adopters clinging to Sound As Ever, many millennial fans entering through #4 Records’ trio of triumphant singles, and Tim Rogers himself preferring Deliverance: possibly due to his memories of making it, or possibly due to that feeling it’s the underdog in a kennel filled with them.
This show was at the Enmore Theatre, this being the only venue in the Inner West big enough to hold this kind of celebration, and the Inner West being the only possible Sydney host (although perverse parts of me wished they’d announced the show at Selina in Coogee or somewhere horribly unromantic). In terms of the actual show – its success a fait accompliwell before tonight – well, it was amazing. Of course it was. You Am I have skipped the cart off the rails enough times throughout their career to know that this show – this entire run of shows – needs to both be faithful to records that fans know every ragged inch of, and honour misty-eyed memories of sweaty, swinging gigs decades earlier in venues around the corner from here. Obviously, these were key considerations, but the whole two-hour show seemed so vital, so plucked out of the band’s collective back pocket, that it seemed less like a well-rehearsed nod to recordings put to tape close to twenty years ago, and more like watching a great band in full flight. It was a You Am I gig, albeit one with a more predictable setlist than most. The evening also answered the age old question of which of the two records is the best. As some of us always suspected, the answer is clear – both of them are.