NEW ORLEANS — Gotye, the single-name singer-songwriter, keyboard player and percussionist from Australia, created 2012’s international mega hit “Somebody That I Used To Know.”
Despite the song’s massive sales — its the year’s top-selling digital song at 6.5 million units — Gotye’s Wednesday night concert at the UNO Lakefront Arena left many seats unfilled, even with the arena reduced to a theater-style configuration.
The club-size, standing-room-only space in front of the stage, however, made for an unusually up-close arena performance. Seats above the floor also were exceptionally near the stage and performers.
Kimbra, a 22-year-old singer from New Zealand, is Gotye’s duet partner for the hit version of the sneakily powerful “Somebody That I Used To Know.” At UNO, Tiffany Lamson, singer, percussionist and ukulele player in the Lafayette band Givers, subbed for Kimbra.
Gotye, his slim, 32-year-old build matched by a long, skinny tie, opened the show standing at a drum set that sat alongside the band’s full-time drummer and his kit. Together, they opened the show with a mutual, arena-jolting thump of percussive power.
Moving quickly over to a round, raised platform near the back of the stage, Gotye sang, clapped and periodically struck a pair of suspended percussion discs. But during much of the 90-minute show, he stood center-stage-front, singing and playing a snare drum and a cymbal stationed there.
In concert, many of Gotye’s songs were effectively short and precise. The music this child of the ’80s makes often echos the better pop and rock produced in that decade filled with bad music. Gotye’s songs, especially the emotive “Save Me,” sometimes suggest Sting at the peak of his Police and solo success.
Singing from behind the drums for “The Only Thing I Know,” Gotye musically and visually paralleled another ’80s star, Phil Collins, solo and as the singing drummer in Genesis. And the concert turned into a percussion festival when Gotye and his entire band gathered to collectively strike drums and keyboards.
Gotye and the band made the reggae-touched “State of the Art” a showcase for their electronic exploits. To begin with, he transformed his normally light singing voice into what’s referred to in opera as basso profundo.
One difference between Goyte’s electronics-heavy music and other electronic and dance music is his talent for writing songs, such as “Somebody That I Used To Know,” that have winning melodies and attention-holding pop-song structure.
Gotye demonstrated another side his song-writing skills during an upbeat encore that included two fun, faithful re-creations of the classic Motown sound, “I Feel Better” and Learnalilgivinanlovin’.”
Givers, featuring the aforementioned Tiffany Lamson, preceded Gotye’s at the Lakefront Arena. It was a good pairing because the Lafayette band’s Afro-pop- and world-music-influenced songs align closely with the headliner’s musical tastes. Likewise Jonti, the delighted-to-be-there South African singer, guitarist and electronic musician who opened the show.