PURE excitement was the overriding emotion as ARIA chart-toppers Lime Cordiale hit the stage at the Cambridge Hotel on Wednesday night.
For many of the live music-starved punters in the room, this was their first gig since at least March when COVID-19 restrictions shut down the music industry.
"It feels good to be out hey?" Lime Cordiale co-frontman Oliver Leimbach said after ripping through the energetic opener, Money.
It certainly did feel good to see and hear live music again. No live-stream gig - even with the slickest production - can compare to the visceral nature of live performance among a crowd.
But this was a very different performance. Due to social distancing measures the Cambridge's usual 800 capacity is restricted to 100 people.
Two weeks ago Lime Cordiale released their second album 14 Steps To A Better You and despite the restrictions opted to perform eight shows at the Cambridge, which subsequently all sold out.
Walking into the Cambridge band room was surreal.
Rather than a sea of punters jostling shoulder-to-shoulder to get closer to the stage or bar, we were greeted by flicking candles perched on a series of white tables scattered around the room.
Welcome to live music in the COVID-19 era.
Punters were escorted to their tables, theatre style, and advised not to dance or stand.
Kiwi rapper Saint Lane attempted to warm up the crowd, but the most interesting aspect of his performance was his mullet and flashy suit. However, Saint Lane did illustrate how one performs a "shoey" in the COVID-era by rejecting footwear thrown onto the stage and instead safely drinking from his own sneaker.
Lime Cordiale's 10-song set was almost entirely made of songs from 14 Steps To A Better You, and why shouldn't it be? The album debuted at No.1 on the ARIA charts and featured three tracks in the Triple J Hottest 100.
Without dancing and with a seated audience, the visual aspect of the performance is heightened. Lime Cordiale had no issues adapting with the Leimbach brothers, Oliver and Louis, both charismatic frontmen in their vintage suits.
Oliver was bouncy and playful by constantly talking with the crowd, while the younger brother Louis was silent but kept the crowd captivated with his rock star pout and piercing gaze.
Lime Cordiale's music is made for summer festival revelry. It's a breezy mix of indie rock, reggae, ska and '70s pop.
However, they still had the seated Cambridge singing their lungs out to songs like Dirt Cheap, Screw Loose, Inappropriate Behaviour and Robbery. The brothers even threw in saxophone, clarinet and kazoo solos to maintain the fun.
The audience lapped it up and several young girls had to be kindly reminded several times to remain seated after being compelled to dance.
From a pure viewing and comfort standpoint seated shows at the Cambridge are a positive and more intimate experience. It's likely to entice older music fans, wary of large mosh pits, to venture back to the venue.
It's hard to see the format being compatible with all genres of music though. Keeping a crowd seated for heavy metal, hip-hip or electronic dance shows would be almost impossible.
However, for now it's a lifeline for the ailing music industry. Let's hope it continues.