Phoenix – Forum Theatre

Phoenix – Forum Theatre

Written and Photographed by Sarah Rix


Phoenix is a band that’s easy to take for granted. There’s an effortlessness to what they do – both in sound and presentation. Whether you pass this off to their French-ness, their 20-plus years as a band, or their relentless touring schedule, it’s undeniable that they put on a professional show with all the hits to back it up. Seriously. So many hits.

It may not be touted as cool (a fact referenced by Phoenix themselves on their 2013 single, “Trying to Be Cool”,) but, if you can get past your own notions of the word, it definitely makes for an excellent live show – as witnessed during the band’s Monday night stop in Melbourne.

Opening track “J-Boy”, from 2017’s under-appreciated Ti Amo, set the energy for the night, Phoenix launching themselves into track after track of dancefloor friendly material. Singles such as “Entertainment”, “Lisztomania”, and “If I Ever Feel Better”, have fleshed out their back catalogue and all landed well with the Forum’s appreciative crowd. The audience was just as keen, too, to hang on for the tempo shifts and slowly strummed guitar interlude of “Rally”, while the guitar and drum work on “Girlfriend” was a masterclass display from a band that’s clearly done this before.


An instrumental interlude – which saw vocalist Thomas Mars taking a well-deserved break as he lay centre stage – was a floor shaking affair, bringing together the best parts of much beloved bands like Daft Punk, LCD Soundsystem, and Tycho.

Dual guitars on “Sunskrupt!” would also prove a highlight, though it was the chant along “hey hey heys” of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix hit “1901” that brought the night to its thrilling climax.

The debate is still ongoing about whether or not Phoenix will ever make it as a top-tier festival headlining act, though. The band is niche enough that they don’t draw the radio masses, but they’ve also got such a wide back catalogue and huge sound that it seems unfair to designate them as anything else. It’s kind of a weird divide to straddle, but you also don’t get the sense that they’re particularly bothered about it. They show up, they put on one of the best live shows you’ll see, and – hopefully – it sticks with you. It’s almost as if they’re growing their audience one fan at a time.


“Thank you so much for coming and for knowing the lyrics and for singing along,” Mars told the crowd toward the end of set. “Every time we come here we have a blast.” He proceeded to jump into the crowd for “Armistice” and also spent much of the encore amongst the masses – including a final instrumental wallop of “Ti Amo Di Piu”, which saw Mars do a full lap around the Forum’s main floor, shaking hands and waving at smartphones as if he were running for mayor of indie rock.

The only shame is that Australia’s missed out on Phoenix’s very cool mirror stage. Logistically, I can understand the nightmare of transporting it out but… damn, it’s a good one. When I last saw the band at a festival show in Toronto, they played with a light-up LED floor and a huge mirror behind them. They don’t need the gimmicks, to be sure, but it was a different way to appreciate what they do.

Thankfully, they’re great regardless of the format and the six-piece seem so at ease on stage. This translates to their music and the audience reaction, too. It’s just so easy to have a good time at a Phoenix show. I’d argue they’re a band that manages to be much better live than on record… and they’re pretty good in that format, too. Ti amo Phoenix indeed.

Written and Photographed by Sarah Rix