David Duchovny - 170 Russell

Live Music / Rick Clifford / Sarah Rix

David Duchovny – 170 Russell

Written by Sarah Rix

Photos by Rick Clifford

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When you see David Duchovny is coming to town for a concert, you’re allowed to be a little … skeptical. The 57-year-old actor – forever best known for his role as Fox Mulder on The X Files – isn’t someone you’d generally associate with musical prowess. Trying to uncover mysteries of the universe, sure. A womanizing, Californiacating novelist, absolutely. But a guy with a five-piece backing band and a sophomore album to tour? Huh.

Stopping in Melbourne on Friday night for a swing of New Zealand/Australian dates, Duchovny brought out a large crowd to 170 Russell in support of his new album, Every Third Thought. Many in the audience looked intrigued – though perhaps more to be in the same room as the actor than for anything else.

Being a celebrity affords you certain opportunities, that much is obvious. And if any other artist came to town with Duchovny’s musical abilities, it’d be a very different situation. Instead, you’d probably be drowning your sorrows with a stiff drink at a dingy bar, wondering what in god’s name was happening on the stage. Yeah. It was kind of at that level.

But, because it’s David fricking Duchovny, you’re instead packed into a busy room with a huge smile on your face, craning your neck for a sight of the man. David Duchovny! Singing you a song! Childhood me was freaking right out!

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That would prove to be the pull-and-tug of the night. Duchovny was fun to watch but truthfully not that great to listen to. Duchovny was energetic but awkward – a showman who was wholly entertaining in a bite-your-tongue sort of way. It was a wonderful time that just happened to be soundtracked by some objectively bad lyrics, nevertheless delivered with all the rock n’ roll gusto you’d hope for.

If coming on stage to AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” wasn’t indicative enough of how the night was going to go, listening to Duchovny’s lyrics would probably get you there. Highlights included:

  • “3000 steps in the dark / 3000 steps across the park / 3000 steps, might take some more / 3000 steps to your door” – 3000
  • “Someone else’s girl / Somehow you are / Someone else’s girl / But I wish you were / My woman now” – Someone Else’s Girl
  • “I got lost / I got lost / I got lost but now I’ve found / That is coming back around” – Half Life

He didn’t play an instrument (outside of, at one point, a cowbell that he emphatically whacked whilst on the floor) and many of the best vocally delivered moments of the night were, in truth, provided by his backing group. Covers of The Band’s “The Weight”, David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel”, and Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over” all gave the surrounding musicians a well-deserved moment in the spotlight.

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His original songs all sounded vaguely familiar, too. They were far off enough that you couldn’t immediately place them, but familiar enough that you’d get frustrated trying to.

There were instrumental nods to Sonic Youth, Oasis, REM, the Pixies, and other big bands of the times – as if Duchovny had Googled “top alt-rock artists of the 1990s”, picked their fifth most popular song, and rewritten them just enough to make them his own. There’s nothing wrong with that approach, but be aware that if you’re ever lucky enough to see him in concert, you’ll spend much of the show asking yourself: “Wait, what song is this?”

The highlight of his original material came during the four song encore – “Hell or Highwater”, the title track from his debut album, landed very well. Gazing out at the crowd you could make out a few people in the audience singing along word for word, a gleam in their eyes. Duchovny was good to the fans, too. He thanked them for their support and jumped into the photo pit near the end of the set and gave out high fives to the front row.

Importantly, though (and perhaps in spite of his frequent Derek Zoolander “blue steel” impression,) Duchovny seemed to be having a fun time. It’s hard to take that away from someone – especially someone you probably spent your formative adolescent years looking at on television. It’s not enough to make you want to believe (sorry) that he’s worth his weight in music, but to his credit: it’s definitely a night that’ll stay with you for a long time to come.

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