Savage Garden: London Arena

With Darren fronting the show, it's a case of the bland leading the band...

When rock and pop meet, the result can be thrilling – like 5IVE covering Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’. But Savage Garden’s rock-pop fusion is more like a head-on collision with an ugly aftermath, and that aftermath is singer Darren. On record he’s an OK vocalist with a good range. On stage, he’s a wannabe rock god with an ego the size of the Australian Outback. Think Bono meets George Michael meets Julian Clary meets David Beckham and you’ll get some idea of his posing, preening, look-at-me-I’m-gorgeous antics.

Technically it’s a jolly good show, honed to perfection by a year’s worth of touring. The curtains open on time. The lights all work and, arranged in colourful panels above and around the stage, they look very nice. The guitars are all tuned. And the backing band (four musicians and two singers) never miss a note.

But with Darren fronting the show, it’s a case of the bland leading the band. Sure, he’s got that outsized ego – so big that he frequently forgets that the chap on his left, Daniel, is part of Savage Garden too. But there’s precious little star quality to back it up and no amount of choreography (including what seems like a bizarre mix of Tai Chi and robotics) or fancy costumery (like a gold lame suit for the encore) can disguise the fact that Darren’s a pretty ordinary guy currently enjoying extraordinary success.

Fortunately the music’s pitched so loud you can barely hear the abysmal, cod poetic lyrics (“I want to live like animals”, comparisons between girls and Cherry Coke) and at one point Dazza gets so emotional he can’t complete a verse. It’s the last night of the tour and he tells us he wants us to see inside his spirit. The ego hasn’t landed – it’s floating somewhere above the arena roof in lala land.

Savage Garden, then. They’ve got enthusiastic fans who raise that roof with their screams and applause. But they aren’t a fully fertilised pop combo. They’re a garden covered in manure.

Simon Button