Culture / Music

A night worshipping at the church of Fred again..

Live Review: A night at the church of Fred again.. in Sydney

To be frank, I'm someone who has attended A LOT of concerts in my young life. As I sit down to write this piece, I can honestly say I've probably cleared more than $10,000 in gigs, festival tickets and accompanying costs in the last decade, which sounds horrifying to say (or type), but which brings back some of my fondest and most cherished memories when reminiscing.

At this point in my life, the excitement of a concert doesn't always hit me quite like it used to. Perhaps, like an addict, I've over-abused my substance of choice to the point that it no longer gives me the same 'high'. Perhaps there are fewer artists around that ooze the same kind of charisma that they used to. But either way, tonight feels like a marked exception.

It's a Wednesday night and I am en route to see British electronic artist and producer Fred again.. , a name that is now synonymous with a country-wide phenomenon. Since spontaneously touching down on Australian soil only a week and a half ago, the producer has fuelled near-hysteria as punters around the country have tried desperately to snag tickets to one of his sold-out shows – or even more covetable, his secret 'side' shows at historic small venues like Club 77, Revs and The Brunswick Hotel.

As I slip into more appropriate concert-going attire in our office bathroom, I quickly check my phone to see that ABC have just shared a breaking news tile on Instagram – "ONE MILLION WAITED IN LINE FOR FRED AGAIN.. TICKETS". Other than Taylor Swift's recent Eras tour stops, it's rare to see fanfare quite like this.


Fred again.. at night two of his Qudos Arena shows in Sydney, Australia.

Photograph by Jordan Munns.


We're heading to Fred Again's second sold-out arena show in Sydney – one of three – at Qudos Arena. After missing our first train and running for the second, we finally arrive at Sydney Olympic Park, and follow the steady stream of punters to the gate listed on our tickets.

Once inside, we're held in a dark waiting room, while an arena employee (quite impressively) belts out the rules. "NO RUNNING... NO VAPING... IF YOU NEED MEDICAL ASSISTANCE, YOU NEED TO BE HONEST WITH US... LET'S HAVE A GOOD TIME!" I look at my colleague Sam, who is beaming with excitement. It feels like we're about to be let onto a rollercoaster ride.

Eventually, we're let through to the ground floor of the arena, which is saturated in blue lights redolent of the producer's most recognisable album cover, 2022's Actual Life 3. Smoke machines are working overtime to pump the space full of a misty haze, setting the tone for a night in the company of an enigma who is perhaps best known for his clue-dropping and secretive approach to touring.

On first are JOY (ANONYMOUS), also known by the names Henry Counsell and Louis Curran, who treat the ballooning crowd to a stirring electronic set foregrounded by Counsell's crystal-clear vocals. And after a 20-minute intermission, the lights dim; the crowd roars; Fred again.. walks on stage, grinning that contagious grin of his.


Fred again.. at night two of his Qudos Arena shows in Sydney, Australia.

Photograph by Jordan Munns.


Unlike most electronic artists, Fred again..'s set starts slow – enormous LED screens projecting a live vertical video pointed at his hands, which dance feverishly across piano keys to Kyle (i found you). Something about the set up feels so intimate – despite being in a room of more than 20,000 people. It feels like we are on a handheld FaceTime call with him and his collaborators, as he adjusts the camera lens to get the framing just so.

As the set picks up pace, we're treated to a rendition of the producer's newest song peace you need, which sees Fred guide the audience through its crooning lyrics “I let you take a piece of me / I hope you get the peace you need" along with JOY (ANONYMOUS) vocalist Counsell, who shuns the stage to pop up high amongst the grandstands, illuminated under a single, white spotlight. Why? "Because we can" they laugh.

The atmosphere takes a distinct turn from pop-star concert to 90s rave energy when Fred again.. makes his way from the main stage through the sprawling crowds and into a caged-off platform in the centre of the pit. Somehow, we have placed ourselves on the barrier of this platform and have an unobstructed vantage point for arguably the most energetic part of his set.

The producer blasts through a medley rendition of  Turn On the Lights again.., Rumble, Jungle (Drum and Bass Remix) and leavemealone using a small trigger-pad set up to finger-drum his way through the songs in a manner he has become so known for. Fred is completely surrounded here, and loving it; fans pushing to get closer, climbing onto each others' shoulders, holding out flashing iPhone signs pleading "Afterparty?", and screaming out their love and admiration.


Fred again.. at night two of his Qudos Arena shows in Sydney, Australia.

Photograph by Theo Batterham.


Eventually Fred heads back to the main stage for a few more songs – at decidedly lower BPMs – which redirect the crowd's carnal energy into a more emotional stream. From Angie (i've been lost) to Billie (loving arms), I look up and into the sea of people dancing high up on either side of the valley of the pit and watch as they embrace and point to one another as they coo the lyrics, "Put your loving arms around me!" It's always one of my favourite pastimes at a concert, to avert your eyes away from the stage and pay attention to the micro-interactions happening all around you. I think it speaks so much more to the talent of a musician, to see not just what they can do, but how they can make people feel.

And feeling is at the very core of the Fred again.. appeal. A night spent in sonic communion with him is one spent at the altar of acceptance, dance and joy – concluded of course, with the pulsing hymn of Delilah (pull me out of this).


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Cover image photographer: Theo Batterham.