Last night I went to see Darren Hayes in concert… for the 7th time! Only 3 have been full concerts, the others being gigs with other acts where he played just a few songs, but he was always the main reason I went. Most people would find this completely mad, but to anyone who has been to a Darren Hayes concert it is completely understandable.
There are many reasons for my huge appreciation for Darren and his music. Firstly, he is a great singer – for some reason I’m often drawn to male singers who sing in falsetto (the Delays, Daniel Bedingfield, Justin Timberlake etc.) and Darren does it better than anyone. He also comes across an interesting and funny person, who has a good attitude to music and being a pop star (see his PJ posts and the song Pop!ular), which is important if I’m going to be a fan of a singer themselves, rather than just liking their music. But the most important thing of all is the music itself. For someone to have his talents for singing and performing, but then also to have this endless collection of fantastic songs is almost beyond belief. While Savage Garden had a background in 80s electro-pop, and Darren therefore does that style fantastically, they also wrote amazing love songs, often in a style which I would immediately dismiss if another act had released it yet there is something about their love songs which make them even better than their poptastic fun songs, which is quite a feat considering my favouritism towards poptastic funness.
However, these are all reasons why he is a good pop star, but there is another reason for my mega-fandom and that is the fact that I have loved his music since I was about 12, so it been with me throughout my teenage years and soundtracked everything that has happened to me. Hearing each of his famous songs last night, I could remember the first time I heard them, or listening to them at a certain time in my life and even if the lyrics had no relation to what was happening, they will always be inextricably linked in my mind. Because of this, I feel quite an emotional attachment to the songs, so hearing them sung live, and so brilliantly as well (Darren is even better live than on the CDs), is quite an emotional experience. And I’m not someone who gets emotional that easily, so it shows how much it means to me that I have such a response.
The crowd at a Darren Hayes concert is a very interesting phenomena. His album and single releases only sell moderately well in the UK (but seemingly much better in Sweden where his songs are on Rix FM every few hours!), but his concert tours always do well. My explanation of this is that most of the people who go and see him are people who’ve gone before, and he manages to keep selling tickets to the same people because once you’ve seen Darren live you want to see him again and again, and once you’re a fan of Darren you’ll be a fan for life.
Because of this, Darren Hayes concerts have the most positive atmosphere of any other concert I’ve been to, since everyone there truly loves him and his music and knows they are in for such a treat. He’s not the sort of act whose concert you might go to if you just wanted a fun night out, because he’s not cool or hugely well-known. However, Darren has an advantage that he appeals to the type of people who don’t forget about an act when the media and the rest of the public forget them, and because of this Darren has stood the test of time. His media attention may have dwindled but his fanbase has stood pretty strong. New male acts turn up every so often but will Justin, Daniel or Shayne have fans who still love them in 5 years, or 10? If they still have fans, it probably won’t be the same people who bought their first singles and albums, but with Darren it is and that just shows what an impact he has on people with his music and lyrics and singing and general demeanor. Who needs the latest popular act when you can go to Darren’s tour or just buy his latest CD and know for sure it’ll be good?
After 3 solo tours, Darren has worked out which songs go down best and includes a carefull chosen mixture of songs from each of his albums, including those by Savage Garden, and a good balance of slow tracks for the conservative mumsy types and some naughty electro aceness for the same people in their moment of freedom and wildness, before they have to go home to their husbands and pretend they’ve been on a nice civilised night out. Of course I’m not a conservative mumsy type, but I have rarely liked what I (as a teenager) am expected to – however, there is a smaller proportion of his fanbase made up of younger girls or gays who love the electro and a bit of mushy stuff on the side, and that sounds much more like me. I think if more people in that demographic were open-minded about Darren Hayes they would actually find they love him as much as their mums do, and I’m sure everyone’s mum would benefit from a bit of Darren Hayes in their life if they haven’t already.