Alex Cameron brings a distinct blend of humour, jazz and 80s nostalgia to Manchester Gorilla
Australian performer Alex Cameron is hard to get your head around at first. For the uninitiated he comes across as a greasy haired loser, crooning sexist lyrics on stage while executing questionable dance moves. Yet, for those in the know his show makes perfect sense: Cameron adopts the persona of a failing musician while on stage. Yet as the atmosphere in the packed venue Gorilla on a dreary Wednesday evening shows, he is far from that.
His two albums are conceptual. In his first Jumping the Shark he develops his persona, while Forced Witness, the more complex of the two, is a humorous confrontation of toxic masculinity, hence the sexist lyrics.
He starts the set with ‘Happy Ending’, a poignant, if repetitive, track from his first album. The track belongs in the end credits of a John Hughes film, but is by no means dated, Cameron’s vocals are fresh and the crowd needs no time to get excited.
Cameron introduces his “dear friend and business partner Roy Molloy,” who sits watching the devoted crowd bemusedly, occasionally picking up his saxophone. His fans are devoted, cheering rapturously and shouting “go on Roy” every time he goes to play a note.
A highlight of the event is Molloy’s “stool review”. He gives a full description of his seat to rowdy roars and laughter. “Tell us about the legs Roy” one over-enthusiastic audience member shouts. His reply: “please do not sexualise the stool”. The bizarre segment culminates in his verdict. “This stool weighs as much as three house bricks. Elegant, attractive, 3.5 out of 5!” Queue riotous applause.
‘Stranger’s Kiss’, originally a duet with American singer-songwriter Angel Olsen, is performed with charismatic Holiday Sidewinder, who plays keyboard for the rest of the set. Her vocals are less distinctive and moving than Olsen’s beautiful Lana Del Rey-esque twang. Nevertheless Sidewinder’s are powerful and the rendition is spine tingling. Molloy’s saxophone paired with some powerful drumming completes the track.
‘Marlon Brando’ gives Cameron a chance to truly show off his atrociously brilliant dance moves. He describes the song as their “contribution to the investigation of the condition of the straight white male”. Indeed, the track is a brash display of male aggression, bravado and competition: “I want her to know that I bench what he is”. The track culminates in an epic blend of bongos, 80s synth, guitar and saxophone.
Cameron recently toured with The Killers as well as co-writing five songs from their newest album Wonderful Wonderful. He enthusiastically tells the crowd of his first contact with Brandon Flowers — the receipt of an anonymous email and then a month writing in Nevada.
He goes on to perform ‘Politics of Love’, another refreshingly 80s track which originally featured Flowers on backing vocals, as well as ‘True Lies’, a witty track about internet scammers.
The evening is tinted with tongue in cheek humour both from Cameron and the crowd: the crowning moment is a bra flying onto the stage, much to everyone’s amusement. If you like saxophone, Bruce Springsteen or Mac Demarco’s sense of humour, be sure to check out Alex Cameron and Roy Molloy.