Review Cassandra Hale
Last night I found myself back at the Melbourne Zoo for the second time in a week. Once again I will sing the praises of the Zoo for these concerts, great venue, easy parking, helpful staff and security, very well run events.
After grabbing a patch of grass it was time for the opening act Gabriella Cohen, who wandered on to the stage sipping peppermint tea which gave you the feel for how the set would go down. Very laid back, very folky, and if you could imagine a female version of Bob Dylan singing you would have her pegged perfectly. Gabriella has a very unique style, and after singing the first three songs solo she had a violin/guitarist join her on stage for a song before adding the bass player and drummer to the mix. The crowd enjoyed the easy listening warm up for the night and offered Gabriella and her band a warm round of applause at the end of their performance. I must say I did find it odd that they played with their backs to the audience for some of the songs, but who am I to judge, each to their own.
Eight o’clock on the dot and The Living End make their presence known in an amazing ‘Twangin at Twilight’ set. I never thought I would be writing a review that mentioned The Living End and String Quartet in the same sentence let alone playing together. But it worked outstandingly well, opening with Moment in the Sun and CCR cover Lookin’ Out My Back Door to get everyone swinging. The violins and cello were beautiful and while I did not catch the musicians names they deserve a huge wrap for their wonderful talent. On with the twang and into Raise The Alarm, Eleanor Rigby (Beatles cover) and West End Riot. It was interesting to hear these favourites slowed down and acoustic, and certainly whet the appetite for what the rest of the nights events would hold. We could all see the full drum kit and mass of amps just teasing us, but patience is a virtue and only one more song until we got the full assault that is The Living End live! For Another Day wrapped up the ‘Twangin at Twilight’ set but it was not the last we would see of the string quartet for the evening.
A quick stage clean up and the boys were back and in cracking form belting out Monkey, Second Solution and Roll On. While everyone lounged on their picnic blankets for the first set they were all on their feet now lapping up the awesomeness that is The Living End. The set list comprised hit after hit and the latest release Staring Down the Barrel was a great addition and sounded first rate.
Chris Cheney has to be one of the most underrated guitar players that Australia has to offer, his skills were showcased last night with some finger blistering solos including a hillbilly finger picking fest that showed his lightning speed and proved that Chris holds his own with the best of them. While on the subject of Chris Cheney, full credit to his guitar tech, Chris has more guitar changes than I have had hot dinners and the pressure on his tech to get it right is huge. Job well done!
Scott Owen is another freak of nature, his iconic double bass makes The Living End what they are and provides the sound we all know and love. It wouldn’t be a Living End gig without him jumping up on top of his double bass to play a few notes and thrill the crowds.
The time keeper of these Three Wise Monkeys, Andy Strachan showed his playful side last night wrapping a bra over his head which had landed on stage. It was hilarious, that was until Chris reminded him that his daughter was watching from the side-lines, bra exits stage right at rapid speed. It certainly gave everyone a giggle. Andy’s chops were perfect as always and kept this tight-knit trio on schedule for every song.
The string quartet took the stage and accompanied the band for How Do We Know, it sounded fantastic, a real highlight of the night. I am still amazed at how they slotted in so perfectly.
Dan Sultan joined the boys to play a few songs, one of his, one of theirs and a Bill Haley cover. His song Fear of Flying was a terrific choice, then on to White Noise where Chris and Dan shared the vocals. Rock this Joint (Bill Haley cover) really did get the whole place rockin’ and the sax and trumpet players that joined them were sensational.
Out rings Who’s Gonna Save Us? then the song that needs no introduction Prisoner of Society, what an absolute cracker to see out what has been a fantastic night of live music. After seeing two brilliant Australian bands within a week, it really brings to the forefront how much impressive talent we have right on our doorstep. Get out there and see a live band, support these hard working musicians so they will still be there for future generations to enjoy.