A sold out crowd at the Corner Hotel heartily welcomed back TZU, new direction and all, after a four year break since their last album and last home crowd shows. Getting a beer in between support acts was the closest anyone could get without risking their place in the crowd.

Opening the night somewhat cautiously, Axolotl graced the stage with singer Ella Thompson, her strong voice sounding stark in the nearly empty room but, beautifully balanced by the ambient electronica, it made for a powerful listening experience. Their Unearthed submissions “Garden Lane” and “Debris” were both highly rated by Triple J presenters, and for good reason. The tinkling glockenspiel, the carefully placed beats and great use of reverb adding to a stellar live sound. Move over Lana Del Rey, this girl has a voice and the live act to back it up.

After a short beer break, Galapagoose kicked off with his glitchy samples and heaping of bass. This was one dude with a hell of a lot of beats and cool vocal effects. His strong jazz background came through with the use of older music styles mixed with fresh, offbeat samples, at one point musing, “This is some really old shit but I think for some reason you might enjoy it”.

Armed with only a sampler and a controller after his laptop stopped working, he still managed to smash out some sweet sampled hip-hop for the masses, including a fun mash-up of “Send In The Clowns”, while one guy in a plaid shirt busted out some sweet pop & lock dancing at the back of the crowd.

Without much of an introduction, TZU launched straight into “We Got The Feeling” from 2008’s Computer Love. It wasn’t long before the crowd were jumping up and down, arms in the air. Joelistics let his tongue take the lead, freestyling during the set and adding a little banter here and there, clearly comfortable with the stage even after a break.

TZU covered many of their well-loved tracks and all four onstage covered, not only turntables and controllers – including a huge live mix later in the set – but guitars, drums and keys as well. Joelistics then introduced some new material including “Beginning of the End” from the album of the same name, and it quickly became obvious that the break from recording has lead TZU down a more rock-oriented path, dabbling in quite a bit of electronica and much less of the hip hop flavour from whence they came.

Luckily, the fans were sated with “Got To Do” and “Mondays” plus other favourites including “Coming Round” which sparked off a huge response from the crowd. But the vibe was not obviously different between old and new material, the guys were able to showcase new stuff without losing interest, not an easy task for such a change in direction.

Their new direction evident in finishing off with the title track from their last album, “Computer Love”, which received a huge response, yet again, and a great way to bridge the gap between old and new. It’s highly unlikely that diehards are going to complain about the new material and vice versa.

Whilst the new album isn’t due out for a few months, if TZU keep playing shows like this one, then fans both old and new will have no distinction, as the combination of spectacular live show and a good crowd response lead the way to a phenomenal tour starter.

– Ceri Kidby-Salom