[LIVE REVIEW] Good Charlotte w/ Special Guests @ Hordern Pavillion, Sydney 26/03/2018

With a line-up as big as this, you’d expect the Hordern Pavilion to be packed! But being a Monday, it wasn’t quiet, which left the audience with just enough space to dance and jump around, but, also only bringing out the fans who were willing to risk the Tuesday morning to follow.

Kicking off the bill was Chase Atlantic, the only Australian band on this five-band line up. Warming up the crowd with their hip hop beats and pop-rock sound the night kicked off with a fun vibe. Issues followed with a set-list seemingly made for singalongs, preparing the crowd for what was to follow. The crowd moved to the unique sounds of the band’s mash up of metal-core and pop tunes.

Falling in Reverse walked on stage to a screaming crowd. The intensity of the band was felt throughout the venue as each member of the five piece greeted the audience. It became clear the band has a strong fan base as much of the crowd chanted the words back to them. With an energetic stage presence and big vocals, Ronnie Radke captivated the audience. If you took a look around, all eyes were on stage, some with adoration and some with a slight sense of shock in their eyes whether it be at the intriguing lyrics or exciting performance. Definitely an experience for all!

The Hordern began to fill up. With people leaving their seats to fill the floor, more fans arriving and everyone clearly getting excited. Neck Deep, came out full of energy and ready to go. Kicking off the set with ‘Happy Judgement Day’, it was an instant frenzy of pop-punk dance moves and screaming the lyrics as loud as you could. Following with ‘Gold Steps’ and ‘Motion Sickness,’ it was as if Neck Deep was the headliner band that everyone had been anticipating all night. The longer intro of ‘Don’t Wait’ had the crowd clapping in time. Lead singer Ben Barlow kept the energy and the vibe flowing, “we’ve only got thirty minutes” he announced before kicking into the next song – ‘In Bloom’ – if everyone wasn’t singing already, they certainly were now. Crowd surfers, flowed and crashed over the barrier. ‘Can’t Kick Up the Roots’ saw the first circle pit of the night, as instructed by the band, with the quick, fun drums and guitars which saw the room erupt with movement as the whole crowd seemed to join in. Chanting ‘one more song’ before they even knew the next song was the last one, the intro to ‘Where Do We Go When We Go’ began but over the chanting, you could barely hear the track. Then the hard-hitting drums rang in and Dani Washington gave his all for the bands final song. The crowd gave just as much back but much to their disappointment, Neck Deep’s set was over and we said farewell to the U.K pop-punkers.

The night wasn’t even close to over. Linkin Park’s ‘In the End’ came through the audio system, maybe as tribute to Chester Bennington but definitely a great intro track and it wasn’t a long wait before Good Charlotte greeted their eagerly awaiting audience. Kicking the eighteen-track set list off with their biggest hit ‘The Anthem’ the room was instantly allured. For the first time all night the Hordern felt full and the crowd seemed to give everything they had for the rest of the night. Next up was ‘Story of My Old Man’ and ‘Bloody Valentine’ both from the same album, but, the set list wasn’t limited. With a mixture of songs from across the twenty-two-year span of the band, it’d be easy to assume all fans left happy. ‘Girls & Boys’ and ‘Riot Girl’ were clear crowd favourites, with many fans finding some shoulders to sit on or crowd surfing their way to the front. These songs also had the crowd dancing and jumping around, before following into the changing tempo of ‘Life Changes’ hailing from the newest album ‘Youth Authority.’

The lighting and special effects held the attention almost as much as the on-stage banter between brothers Benji and Joel Madden which they shared with the crowd. “We’re Australian part time” announced Joel with a laugh, sharing with the crowd that he lives right here in Sydney (sometimes). Stating that he hates Melbourne with a ‘boo’ retaliation from the crowd and then being honest by following with “I said the same thing last night in Melbourne about Sydney.” ‘Predictable’ a number one hit had the older fans chanting the spoken words from the song, while ‘The Motivation Proclamation’ provoked a change in emotions from many fans around the room, slowing everything down. ‘Keep Your Hands Off My Girl’ ramped up the atmosphere again and had many bouncing on their feet and in their seats before ‘Makeshift Love’ let drummer, Dean Butterworth show off his skills from the newest album.

It was a trip back to the beginning of the millennium as ‘Little Things’ began to play, with its groovy guitar riffs which saw Bill Martin smiling into the crowd. The angsty tune of ‘The Young and The Hopeless’ saw fists punch the air and the older fans seem to reminisce on the days when they didn’t care about going out on a Monday night. Earlier in the night the crowd had been asked if it was their first time seeing Good Charlotte – from the response it seemed like it was for the majority. So, for the rest of the night it was referred to as a “first date” with the band. However, the night was coming to an end but it was definitely not just going to fizzle out. ‘Misery’ had the crowd dancing around again and harmonizing to the woah oh’s. Then, following in album order ‘The River’ and ‘I Don’t Wanna Be In Love (Dance Floor Anthem)’ was up next from the 2008 album ‘Good Morning Revival’ with a cheer erupting from the crowd as each song began and ‘Last Night’ seemed to almost be rounding out the night as the only song from 2010 album ’Cardiology.’

What was left to play, except two of the biggest pop-punk sing-a-along. The iconic intro to ‘I Just Wanna Live’ began and somehow the crowd still had energy. The room was ecstatic, with everyone up off their feet bouncing to the well-known song. “We don’t do that encore shit” announced Joel Madden “this is your encore” and right on que the quick drums of ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ began, as if there could be a person left in the room without at least knowing the chorus. It was almost as if the band didn’t even need to play, with audience members acting out different instruments and parts of the song. The special effects had their final moments, with steam canons and pyro techniques blasting out from the stage, with one fan saying ‘I wish there was confetti’ as she departed the venue. The band fare welled the audience with big waves and the toss of some drum sticks.

All in all, this Download sideshow was a huge success. With a five-band line-up, not something often done in Australia, the show seemed to run smoothly with only set times seemingly a problem. Download has now announced its return in 2019 to Melbourne, while adding Sydney to its list of locations! Who do you want to see on next year’s lineup?

Review Contributed by Carleigh Ingram