DJ Albo plays at an ALP Fundraiser in Brisbane on December 4. Photo: Robert Shakespeare
For those anywhere near the internet over the past few years, a slightly profane political meme extolling former prime minister John Howard’s DJing prowess has been hard to miss.
From the other side of politics, DJ Albo has emerged to make that meme a reality.
In his day job, DJ Albo goes by the name Anthony Albanese and currently serves as the Member for Grayndler and the shadow transport minister.
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 04: DJ Albo plays a set at an ALP Fundraiser on December 4, 2015 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Robert Shakespeare/Fairfax Media) Photo: Robert Shakespeare
During the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years, he was deputy prime minister.
On Friday night, in a South Brisbane warehouse, Albanese was simply DJ Albo.
And DJ Albo’s set is, largely, a Gen-Xer’s delight.
It kicks off with Florence and the Machine’s Ship to Wreck before making a path through the 80s and 90s, from The Cure to Spiderbait, from The Jam to The Clash, from the Smithereens to Joy Division.
From Taylor Swift to Frankie Goes to Hollywood.
One gets variety at a DJ Albo gig.
A wheelchair-bound Kevin Stanton, of Mi-Sex fame, is on hand to hear Albanese spin the Kiwi band’s People.
DJ Albo shows a little State of Origin bitterness before launching into a six-song Queensland stanza that features The Go-Betweens, Kate Miller-Heidke, The Veronicas, Powderfinger, Regurgitator (the “cleanest Regurgitator song I could find,” he says) and The Saints.
Shake it Off, as has become custom, has Queensland’s Deputy Premier Jackie Trad tearing up the dance floor.
And, throughout the night, Shannon Fentimen shows she has a case for adding Minister for Gettin’ Down to her multiple portfolios in the upcoming cabinet reshuffle.
There’s method to DJ Albo set and it’s not always subtle.
The Wombats’ Lets Dance to Joy Division is followed by Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart, which in turn is followed by Joy Division spawn New Order’s amazing Crystal.
Iggy Pop’s The Passenger rounds out the set.
“This is what I always finish with and I don’t give a shit if you like it or not, because I do and if you don’t you’re an idiot,” Albanese tells the 300-strong crowd.
He’s the one putting the “party” in Australian Labor Party tonight, after all.
The DJ Albo set covers most bases. It’s hard to fault the song selection, but it’s fair to say the execution still needs a bit of work.
Tracks don’t fade into each other, leaving momentum-stopping pauses between the songs.
Post-set, Albanese concedes it’s probably not a fall-back career if his political fortunes go pear-shaped.
“This is just a bit of fun,” he tells Fairfax Media.
“I don’t take myself too seriously, I don’t pretend I’m a professional DJ. I am what I am and I play music that I like.”
So how did this DJ Albo phenomenon take off?
“In 2013, when I was deputy prime minister, I did the Hack program on Triple J and afterwards I was talking to the people there about music and one of the people I was chatting to, who I didn’t know, was one of the producers of Rage,” Albanese says.
“They said ‘actually, you know a lot about music so why don’t you guest program Rage?’, so I did The Smiths, I did the Pixies and things of that genre.”
That led to some critical acclaim and, before too long, DJ Albo made his life debut at Melbourne’s Trades Hall.
He has also performed in Sydney and Canberra and tonight is his first time on the decks in Brisbane.
Politics is never far from thought – tonight serves as a fundraiser for Labor’s federal election campaign.
“Political functions are usually sit-down dinners and long speeches and I think people would rather come along and dance,” Albanese says.
“I think it’s been a good atmosphere here tonight.”
“…When you’re involved in the day-to-day of politics, it’s really important that you can cut yourself off and enjoy life and music is a way to do that.”
The DJ Albo set-list:
- Ship to Wreck – Florence and the Machine
- Just Like Heaven – The Cure
- Last Nite – The Strokes
- Calypso – Spiderbait
- People – Mi-Sex
- A New England – Kirsty Maccoll
- Was There Anything I could Do? – The Go-Betweens
- Caught in the Crowd – Kate Miller-Heidke
- 4Ever – The Veronicas
- (Baby I’ve Got You) On My Mind – Powderfinger
- ! (The Song Formerly Known As) – Regurgitator
- This Perfect Day – The Saints
- Aloha Steve & Danno – Radio Birdman
- In The City – The Jam
- Train in Vain – The Clash
- Aqua Profonda! – Courtney Barnett
(PAUSE FOR POLITICS)
- Royals – Lorde
- Happy – Pharrell Williams
- Shake it Off – Taylor Swift
- Missing – Everything But The Girl
- A Girl Like You – The Smithereens
- Bohemian Like You – The Dandy Warhols
- Let’s Dance to Joy Division – The Wombats
- Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division
- Crystal – New Order
- Pony – Ginuwine
- Don’t Leave Me This Way – The Communards
- Relax – Frankie Goes to Hollywood
- I Held Her in my Arms – The Violent Femmes
- Here Comes Your Man – The Pixies
- Section 5 (Bus to Bondi) – Midnight Oil
- The Passenger – Iggy Pop