Gallery by Lynda Buchanan
Gallery by Lynda Buchanan
Skillet entered my house a couple of years ago, via my then 11-year-old who came across Monster and played it incessantly. And that’s all I knew about them until I was given the review. My now 13 year old says “You know they’re a Christian band, right?” Well no, I didn’t know they were a Christian band. I had visions of every church youth group in Melbourne having an outing to the Forum to see them and this rather put a damper on my anticipation for the gig. I joined the exceptionally long queue outside the Forum last night and had a look around. Looked like a normal rock crowd to me. Wait, that guy’s wearing what looks like a Star Wars T-Shirt but on closer inspection, it says “May the Lord be with you.” God is obviously exempt from breaches of copyright. But there was a really nice buzz of anticipation amongst the assembled so I decided to relax and enjoy myself (while avoiding eye contact. I’m not ripe for conversion).
Opening for Skillet was Terra a local 5 piece. Pop Punk is how they are described by Triple J. I’d say more on the pop side but they gave a 30 minute set of boppy, danceable and catchy tunes. Pint-sized Cassie Sutton has lovely clean vocals and the 3 guitarists were animated and skillful. I was reminded a bit of Tonight Alive and there are a lot of bands that sound similar. I really hope these guys can come up with that tune that will help them break out of the pubs and onto the next level.
Skillet came on to a rowdy reception from the congregation (I mean crowd). I had known that there were 2 ladies in the band but was surprised when one of them took her place behind the drum kit. And Jen Ledger can only be described as “badass” on those drums, having clearly gone to the Dave Grohl school of drumming, hair, and sticks everywhere. And also providing the backing vocals. I’m told it is extremely hard to drum and sing at the same time but she managed this beautifully. Her voice has a “little girl” quality and I could not help thinking about watching Rugrats years ago.
Lead singer John Cooper is a very engaging individual. He worked the front of the stage covering the full width and making sure everyone was on board the Skillet train. I would reckon 70%+ of the audience were word perfect and there were plenty of sing-along opportunities. They opened with Feel Invincible from 2016’s Unleashed followed by Whispers in the Dark. From my atheist’s perspective, I was listening to the lyrics searching for the subliminal attempts to turn me from the dark side. But truly, other than two songs, Lion and Watching for Comets, which sounded like modern songs of worship, this was just an entertaining, good old rock and roll show with a touch of the Electronic and Symphonic.
Sick of it was a highlight for me. “Are you sick of it?” asks John. “Sick of the stress, of the doubt, of everything? Raise your hands up and let it go. Take control, it’s now or never.” I am all about personal responsibility and this song sounded like a message to the millennials. “Take a stand and raise your hand, if you’re sick of it.”
As with every American act I have seen this year, an apology was made for their president. “The atmosphere in my country is so divisive at the moment.” Says John. “People fight because they look different, they vote differently, they dress differently. I love that rock and roll brings people together, no matter who they vote for, the colour of their skin or how much they have.” And I will give that a great big Amen! One of my favourite things about music is sharing the experience with others who are prepared to pay their money, get off the couch and go out and really live for a few hours.
Hero brought Jen out from behind the drum kit to share the lead vocals and they finished their main set with Monster. The Forum reverberated with the call for one more song. An extended rendition of The Resistance ended their set and the crowd showed their appreciation with their hands, their feet, and their hearts. There was a lot of love for this band that could be felt in the air last night.
So this night was a bit of a revelation for me, with two of my long-held beliefs dispelled.
I loved this show. Skillet has not visited Australia since 2011 but hopefully, the reception they received at the Forum last night will encourage them to make the trip more often.
Review Contributed by Wendy Smith
Gallery By Jose Sanchez
Gallery By Jose Sanchez
For those of you who haven’t been to The Forum in Melbourne, it is an amazing venue and a perfect choice for tonight’s show. Good size, Good sound and plenty of atmosphere. The roof of the venue is set like the night sky with high ceilings painted blue with tiny lights looking like stars. The interior is set like a Greek Coliseum with columns and marble statues throughout the venue. If you can go to a show there, I recommend it for the venue alone, it makes any band look good.
Doors open and everyone is enjoying the happy hour special, listening to the varying metal and rock tunes played over the PA getting amped up. We are all waiting for Machine Head to come out to do what they do best, put on one hell of a night. The tour is off the back of their latest release Catharsis and what the fans got was a most awesome 3hr set from the Cali Rifflords.
As the room lights go down, Ozzy’s Diary of a Madman comes on and people start to turn heads and get ready for the show, the stage lights dim, voices roar and the intro to Imperium begins. “HEAR ME NOW!” Robb screams and the crowd makes sure they know we are alive and ready to bang our heads.
The setlist covers every moment of their career from earliest to latest albums, sating even the old school fans hunger, with the likes of Ten Ton Hammer, Desire to fire, The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears and Descend the Shades of Night.
The new songs off Catharsis are given a different life on the stage as to the album recordings. The riffs sound heavier and you can see and hear the emotion that Robb brings to the lyrics. Beyond the Pale and Catharsis had the crowd singing the chorus and Triple Beam got the crowd jumping and necks snapping.
Given that this is a full night of Machine Head, everyone had their chance in the spotlight, except Jared MacEachern. (bassists never get their due credit, (ha – written by a bassist). Phil Demmel shreds up a storm part way into the night center stage. You can’t fault the guy and his guitar skills or sound, everyone was screaming and wanting more as Phil walks off and Robb comes out with an acoustic and starts strumming the chords to Darkness Within. He talks about how much he appreciates Machine Head fans and how they have been doing this for 23 years now and still going strong. One girl stands on a guy’s shoulders with a sign and Robb instantly recognizes her “I know you, I remember! This girl has come from Barcelona to fucking Melbourne to catch this show!”. About two hours in Dave McClain gets his time to shine. Already known for being a solid drummer, he now shows off his skills for the next 5 – 10 mins. Only having a couple of short stops throughout the entire 3 hrs, he’s definitely one of most durable drummers I’ve ever seen live.
The end of the set comes with a surprise of a Welcome Home (Sanitarium) and Creeping Death Cover. It was good to see them have fun with something other than Machine Head songs and of course the crowd went nuts for it! Closing with Aesthetics of Hate and Halo and the crowd proving that they somehow still have enough energy and voice left to sing the choruses.
This tour is a reminder to fans that Machine Head appreciate them and also that the fans appreciate Machine Head. It acknowledges the band and fans alike in the fact that Robb and the crew wouldn’t be able to travel the world and share their songs without our help. The good thing about Machine Head is that they do Meet and Greets before each show and they, in turn, learn how their music has affected their fans. Machine Head nailed the show and brought home the message that music is a powerful medium. All in all, a damn fine night out.
Review Contributed by Mitch Charlton
Gallery By Jose Sanchez
Being my first visit to Melbourne’s famed Forum Theatre on Flinders Street, I entered the concert arena via the stunning foyer and made my way as close to the stage as I could get. I found myself a space to stand and looked around a moment and was stunned by the beauty of this magnificent venue, the lights dimmed and applause, cheers, and whistles came from the crowd as The Tesky Brothers took to the stage. Kicking off the show with they introduced us to a brand new song, Man Of The Universe.
As soon as frontman Josh Tesky took to the mic to let go one of his trademark blues inspired howls the crowd was in a frenzy. It sure was a hair standing on the back of your neck moment. From that point on all in attendance were eating from the palms of their hands! Between songs, Josh talked about the musical skills and flawless songwriting talent and contributions amongst all the members of the group. I was absolutely blown away after they confessed they are fans of Black Sabbath and then broke into a cover of their hit War Pigs. I didn’t think I would ever walk away from a blues gig being 100% satisfied with a Black Sabbath cover, but here I am!
The boys from Warrandyte Victoria spoke of their home recording studio and how far they have come in just over one short year. From a small band working the local pub scene to selling out shows across the county almost overnight. They were a humble bunch of lads who even asked the audience to stay behind for a bit and pose for a photo taken with the group from the stage. “This is probably our biggest performance, so we better take a photo in case it doesn’t happen again” Tesky joked.
The set was filled with songs from their 2017 album Half Mile Harvest, new songs yet to be released and another cover, this time John Lennon’s Jealous Guy. The vibe in the room was brilliant, masses of people bopping, swaying and grooving along with every track. Losing their minds whenever Josh screeched, howled or pulled his harmonica out to play during songs! If you are yet to experience The Tesky Brothers you will have to wait as our local lads are off to tour the US through July. But don’t worry as their music is fully available and I highly recommend it. Especially on a lazy weekend with a quiet beer. It does set a perfect ambiance for any occasion. The Tesky Brothers, live at the Forum Theatre on a cold Melbourne night was the perfect way to warm up with their beautiful soul and blues.
Setlist:- Man of the Universe, Crying Shame, Shiny Moon, Say You’ll Do, I Love a Woman, I Get Up, Reason Why, Paint My Heart, Pain and Misery, Honey Moon, War Pigs (Black Sabbath Cover), Louisa.
Encore :- Forever You and Me, Jealous Guy (John Lennon cover), Right For Me.
Review Contributed by Dillon Hughes
Gallery By Jose Sanchez
With close to 90,000 people flooding Melbourne for State of Origin it was reaching gridlock as I joined the unending line that was reaching the top of Hosier Lane. The fans were hyped, the wait has been long for a double header of this magnitude and we answered by selling it out as only the Melbourne fans can do.
After a quick stop at the merch desk it was off to the floor to grab a good vantage point, front and centre did me nicely as I waited for Mr Big to kick things off. In splendid fashion they opened with Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy (The Electric Drill Song) the crowd went crazy and yes, they did crack out the tools, playing their guitars with the help of electric drills, not your average start to a gig. In saying that it was not your average musicians on stage either, when you have the likes of Paul Gilbert and Billy Sheehan sharing the stage you feel like you are in the presence of rock royalty. They both treated us to blistering solos over the course of the show and some terrific duelling. Paul had his guitar face on which was mighty expressive, his passion for his instrument leaching out his fingers which every note. Billy slapped his bass as only he can, leaving the fans speechless, it was easy to see why he is a multi award winner.
Alive and Kickin’ had us all singing along Eric Martin worked the crowd like a true professional, his microphone stand complete with a steeling wheel base. Take Cover was dedicated to the late great Pat Torpey who we lost earlier this year. It was a very fitting tribute and I sure he would be looking down at Matt Starr on the kit with a smile on his face. Matt’s drumming was fierce, his heaviness providing the backbone of songs like Everybody Need A Little Trouble of the latest album Defying Gravity. The Cat Stevens cover of Wild World was a terrific addition and Just Take My Heart had all the girls swooning. Addicted To That Rush had the punters bouncing, loving every minute, but I think the band were loving it even more. We have waited a bloody long time to see Mr Big here in Australia and everyone was basking in their rock goodness. Eric was quite playful, wrapping his arms around Billy to take over the bass duties while Billy cracked out the harmonica or a stray hit of a cymbal as he flew past the drum kit. They are a very cohesive bunch and it showed from go to whoa. Green-Tined Sixties Mind another choice track from the album Lean Into It that had everyone bopping, loudly singing along.
Everyone was waiting for To Be With You, it certainly didn’t disappoint as phones were held aloft to capture a memory for later, the crowd loved it taking over the vocals for the better part of the song. Then the finisher and what a song to end it on Colorado Bulldog, the fans revelling in the brilliance that Mr Big delivered, leaving everyone completely satisfied and hopeful that the wait won’t be as long next time.
The magnificent Forum Theatre was literally bulging at the seams, it had swelled to capacity as Extreme fans turned out in force. The twenty-five year wait has been long but it was worth every day of every year to finally have them back in Melbourne. It was a very respectful fan base, all happy for the opportunity to see this awesome foursome live, it was smiles all round as we waited for the lights to drop. Taking their places under the cover of darkness Extreme exploded from the shadows in a wash of lights and colour with the massive opener It(‘s a Monster) followed by Li’l Jack Horny. Everyone was losing their minds as Get The Funk Out rang out, totally in awe of the what was unfolding before us. With an opening trifecta of that stature it was going to be one hell of a night!
What can I say about Gary Cherone, his energy is effervescent, bouncing from the drum riser to cover every millimetre of the stage with ease. He delivered some very cheeky poses to the photographers and I swear he was a Cirque De Soleil performer in a past life. His fluidity was mind blowing, his stamina undying, he is the quintessential front man that any band would kill to call their own. Oh and let’s not forget, he can really belt out a tune, sounding as good today as he did twenty-five years ago.
The hits (and there are many) kept flying out, Rest In Peace, Hip Today and Play With Me next on the list, I am still gobsmacked at how Gary delivered Play With Me live, the lyrics lightning quick and yet he does not miss a beat. Kevin Figueiredo, affectionally known as KFig gave us a sample of his sensational skin hitting partnered with Nuno on his own stand alone drum station, they fed off each other beautifully and treated us to a sensational drumming duet. A few lucky fans managed to snag a memento as Nuno lobbed his drumsticks to the crowd. Shortened versions of Tragic Comic/Whole Hearted saw Nuno hit the stage looking smooth in a suit jacket and hat and KFig move up close to the fans as a small drum kit magically appeared in front of my eyes. The punters singing loud, awash with happiness to have all four members up close and personal.
The needle on my fangirl meter flew to red at warp speed as Nuno Bettencourt took to a stool for Midnight Express. His jokes and banter with the crowd was sensational and in all honestly, I don’t think it was just the girls who were fangirling! The man-love for Nuno was obvious by the crowd that swelled around his microphone, was it for his astonishing guitar skills or his sexy good looks who knows. His shredding skills are exemplary, his guitar an extension of his body, never showy just musical perfection at its finest. Add to this a voice as smooth as honey and Nuno really is the complete package.
Cupid’s Dead was amazing and Am I Ever Gonna Change and Take Us Alive had the crowd rocking. It was return of the stools for More Than Words, Gary and Nuno not required to sing, we knew all the words and we sang them loud and proud. It was a special moment, driven with emotion and passion by all in attendance. Now time to talk Pat Badger, as far as bass players go he is the glue holding this tight knit unit together. Pat is the backbone of Extreme, he is an unbelievably talented musician and has stage presence like no other, not to mention his outstanding vocals. He feeds of the crowd and his enjoyment in performing was evident all night.
Flight Of The Wounded Bumblebee saw Nuno’s hands possessed with the spirit of rock and roll, the fans transfixed as he blew as all away with his blistering speed and precision. As He-man Woman Hater followed on Pat quickly walked out with a setlist in hand, pointing out that Nuno was off track, with that He-Man shut down they launched into the final song of the night Decadence Dance. I swear if the roof wasn’t so high we would have lifted it off, the crowd screaming the lyrics back at fever pitch, and amazing song to end what will be known as the gig of the year. As Peace filtered out of the speakers the band took to the pit to thank the fans. Gary walking across the barrier as Pat and KFig happily shook hands and high fived the adoring fans, and as Nuno got to me I must say I did hold on probably a little longer than I should have, but it was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I couldn’t let pass by. It was such a fitting way to thank the fans for there support and the perfect finish to the night.
The headline read, it’s gonna be BIG and it’s gonna be EXTREME, last night was a show of gargantuan proportions, and blew that headline out of the water. It was bigger than BIG and not just EXTREME but supreme. I speak for everyone who was there last night when I say get the FUNK back here real soon, we will be waiting with open arms.
Review Contributed by Cassandra Hale
Gallery By JAIDYN HALE