Three years ago, I had the honour of reviewing Eric Nam’s 2019 Melbourne show at 170 Russell. For many, including myself, it was my first-time seeing Eric Nam live, and it was also my first ever live music gig that I had the opportunity to review. So, I felt everything had come full circle when I saw Eric Nam’s return to Australia for his ’2022 There and Back Again Tour’, playing in Melbourne at the iconic Forum Melbourne venue, a rite of passage for many international artists.
What I love about Eric Nam’s concerts is how inclusive they are. It doesn’t matter if you’re a long-time fan, are seeing him for the first time, how old you are, or whether you’re attending as someone’s chaperone, Eric Nam welcomed everyone and was guaranteed for a great time.
It’s hard to resist Eric Nam’s fun, care-free, energetic, and captivating aura. Much like his 2019 show, fans would scream whenever Eric would affectionately gesture towards the crowd, or whenever he’d showcase his wavy body rolls and slick dance moves, complete with effortless pirouettes. His vocals were also impressive (as always), with perfect diction, tone, both smooth and enchanting, and honestly, the man could sing the results of my Google search history and I would still throw good money at him.
Eric is also incredibly funny, saying ‘hi’ to audience members who were ‘here against their will’, singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to the handpicked lucky birthday folk in the audience, cheekily throwing water on the audience during his song ‘Echo’, realising how many heads were in the gutter when he’d mention what people do alone in the bedroom (apparently for him it’s dressing up and practicing his dance moves in the mirror – *completely innocent*), jokingly trying to misdirect a sing-along line during the performance of his song ‘Good For You’, cackling at Aussie call and response ‘hip-hip hooray’ culture not being a thing in the United States.
Eric also quickly learnt of the severe rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney whenever he’d try to hype up the crowd with a cheer and would share that Sydney were ‘really good’ and would query if Melbourne can even do better (I mean, of course we can, and did).
Everything was bigger this time around too, with Nam performing in a venue twice the size of the last one, and this time – with two dancers and a three-piece band. As good as Eric Nam’s discography is, his songs sound even better accompanied with live music. ‘Any Other Way’, ‘I Don’t Know You Anymore’, ‘What If’, ‘Lost On Me’, and ‘Wildfire’ were a joy to hear live for the first time, with ‘One Way Lover’ performed acoustically, all from Eric Nam’s latest release, his album ‘There and Back Again’.
It was also wonderful to hear songs ‘Runaway’ and ‘Honestly’ in Korean, ‘I Don’t Miss You’ acoustic with a wonderful sing-along from the audience that felt magical, and it was great to see classics return to the setlist including ‘Don’t Call Me’ and the iconic ‘Congratulations’.
However, the highlight of the night would be Eric Nam’s performances of ‘Honestly’ and ‘Paradise’. If these songs weren’t already fantastic enough, they were elevated tenfold by being performed with a live band. The crowd participation singing and shouting “SAY SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING!” to ‘Honestly’ felt empowering and the live arrangements for ‘Paradise’ were pure bliss and a blessing for my ears. Having Eric Nam perform with a live band instead of a track, allowed for him to exercise his freedom of expression, while letting the audience soak up his gorgeous adlibs and superb vocal runs.
No stranger to Australia and as an Asian and independent artist, Eric Nam took the opportunity to speak up about how grateful he was to have a sold-out show in Melbourne, thanking the audience for “showing up, moving culture forward, and being a part of change”.
Saving the best ‘til last, Melbourne was the last stop of Eric Nam’s Australian leg, having already performed this week in Brisbane and Sydney. Nam found this to be quite an emotional experience, asking the audience if they would see him again if he came back, with the Melbourne venue erupting in a resounding ‘yes’.
Eric Nam’s ’There And Back Again Tour’ is his best one yet to visit Australian shores, and I have no doubt that this phenomenally talented, now independent Korean American artist could sell out a Melbourne arena upon his next visit. Let’s just hope that it’s sooner rather than later and with a bigger band, which will only make this already brilliant star shine that much brighter.
For more information on Eric Nam, his current tour for dates near you and ticketing, visit:
Photography by Grant Alexander.