In their first tour of 2011, The Dandy Warhols returned to Australia’s shores to play a slew of sold out shows. On Friday they voyaged to Melbourne, its residents were more than happy to have them all in their loving clutches once more, now-local resident Brent DeBoer was perhaps not enough to feed their great hunger. Packing out The Palace like clowns in a comically undersized car was a very diverse mix of people.

Looking around the crowd, you could be sure that punters there would all have very different opinions of what their best album was. As Courtney said in his interview with Tone Deaf, The Dandys seem to attract fans a bit more chilled out than your ‘average neurotic hipster’. There was a great feeling of camaraderie in the air as everyone filed into the Theatre, and luckily, it seems that it has been long enough that all but a few of those who jumped on the bandwagon when ‘We Used to be Friends’ was on The OC and Veronica Mars have either moved on to the next big band or have been converted to true Dandys fans by the ethereal magic of their music.

Opening up the night was a solo performance by drummer Brent DeBoer’s good friend and band mate Bob Harrow of Immigrant Union; a last minute decision which turned out to be quite rewarding. He played a short and sweet acoustic set of his smooth country jams, which the crowd seemed to enjoy immensely despite it being quite a change of pace from The Dandys’ music.

Next on was Brisbane surf outfit Los Huevos, who were joining them at all of their shows but the Perth one. Their music was closer matched to that of The Dandys, luring the crowd closer to the stage and into their gravitational pull as they played through a heavy set of their high-energy instrumental tunes. They very cleverly avoided sounding like every other instrumental surf band out there, and in this scribe’s humble opinion, any band that makes productive use of a theremin is pretty damn cool.

The crowd was in uproar when the band of the night paraded onto the stage, the girls in attendance all but fainting completely at the sight of the still incredibly fortunate-looking front man Courtney Taylor-Taylor, his trademark pout etched across his face. Unfortunately, the set didn’t begin with Anton Newcombe saying “So, tell me right now you’ve never ever heard the Dandy Warhols before,” with ‘The Dandy Warhols’ TV Theme Song’ following, but ‘Be-In’ from …Come Down was a more than sufficient way to kick things off. Punters were reminded that Courtney was more than just a pretty face as the song heated up, and it quickly became apparent that the band has matured with age like a fine wine, as they were sounding tighter than ever on this night.

Having just released compilation album The Capitol Years, The Dandys mainly stuck to songs from the albums Capitol put out, as well as newer ones from Earth to the Dandy Warhols. Dandys Rule OK (which is a STATEMENT, not a question, Courtney explained to the crowd,) was ignored almost entirely aside from the wildly popular ‘(Tony, This Song Is Called) Lou Weed’. The crowd had a blast dancing along to this number as Courtney did his best Lou Reed impression, and it was disappointing that they didn’t pay attention to any of their other older tracks, though they did do an incredibly good job of picking the songs that they did play.

It’s hard to pick out which songs were crowd favourites when every song seemed to get equally as big a reception as the one preceding it and the one preceding that. Obvious crowd-pleasers were the big singles like ‘Not If You Were the Last Junkie On Earth’, ‘Bohemian Like You’ and ‘We Used to be Friends’ though, all of which they performed with that great vigour that they’re known for, despite probably being bored to death of playing them after so long.

Halfway through the set, Brent, Pete and Zia all went off stage for a bit of break, while Courtney played ‘Every Day Should Be A Holiday’ as a solo singalong. The crowd hung on every single one of his words, all of which they seemed to know off by heart. Despite each member of the band having his or her own important presence on stage, it became apparent in this song that Courtney most definitely had the charisma to carry off performing without the aid of the band, and it was surprisingly just the kick that the set needed to keep it moving along. It just isn’t The Dandy Warhols without Zia’s booty-shakin’, Brent’s warm and cheerful drumming and Pete’s enigmatic stage presence though, so the crowd was pleased to see them all return to the stage for the second half of the set.

A couple of new songs were played, called ‘The Wow Signal’, and ‘Rest Your Head’ respectively. ‘Rest Your Head’ got back to their roots and was particularly guitar-based, just as they had promised. This seemed to please the audience immensely, and despite not being able to sing along to either song just yet, they danced along appreciatively to both.

‘Godless’ was a highlight and had everyone cheering in appreciation as they recognised the guitar intro. Engaging the audience, Courtney had everyone in attendance sing the trumpet bit in substitution of an actual trumpet, and they were all more than happy to comply as they drunkenly bopped along to the famous guitar chord progression.

‘Boys Better’ finished off the set before their encore. It had an extended intro, which succeeded in building up tension in the audience that was immediately released as they set into the illustrious intro to DiG!. Indeed you felt as though you were slipping back into 1997 as they played through the danceable smash.

‘Country Leaver’ followed as the encore. They avoided walking off stage and waiting for the audience to plead for more, and immediately announced that it was their encore and set into it. Courtney explained that in the middle of the recording of the song there was a wicked bong hit, and that if anyone in the crowd had any grass on them, now would be the time to have it. The crowd didn’t let their ringleader down, and almost immediately after he had spoken, the welcoming aromas of weed filled The Palace, which is exactly how a Dandy Warhols gig should end.

–       Ella Jackson