Welcome to the church of Childish Gambino

Welcome to the church of Childish Gambino

THERE are two rules at a Childish Gambino concert. First, have a good time. Second, put your phone away.

As the rap superstar says: “Don’t commercialise the moment, this is church.”

Shirtless and charismatic, Donald Glover, the multi Grammy award-winning artist, initially had a bit of a tough crowd at Perth’s HBF Arena.

But the sheer talent of the man – singing, dancing, rapping – wore away at the early reluctance of the crowd.

Course it’s possible they were still holding a grudge. After all, Glover did cancel his musical alter ego’s 2018 Australian tour, and in his own words, “it took a minute to get here”.

But Gambino’s phenomenal talent, fed by hardcore fans and irresistible beats, quickly swept the crowd away with an intimacy that usually accompanies a far smaller venue.

Childish Gambino in concert at HBF Arena in Perth. Picture: Travis Hayto

 

By the time Gambino launched into This is America, everyone was on their feet as Glover danced up and down a catwalk lit up by laser illuminations.

He dove into the crowd, ducking backstage and cupping his ear to encourage more applause and riotous demands for more, before emerging back on stage to the rapturous roars of his congregation.

When you consider the scale of some arena productions, this is a very stripped back, minimalist stage set up.

The stark staging and close camera work only serves Gambino: there are no distractions whether he is kneeling down to talk softly to rapt fans, or dancing along the catwalk.

Mostly solo on stage, he is occasionally accompanied by dancers, a guitarist or a choir as he moves from rich vocals to rap and back again, demanding audience participation.

Not that we needed much encouragement. Fans were word perfect with favourites including Summertime Magic, Terrified, V. 3005, Algorthym and Sober.

He’s still threatening to retire, quietly stating that this is the “last Childish Gambino concert ever”.

But then he teases the crowd with a new song and with a new album on the way, it’s likely that the potential retirement of Childish Gambino is much like his tendency to vanish from the stage.

He disappears, only to reappear on the screen as he walks away, followed by a camera and demanding our attention. And it only makes us want him more.