RAG N’ BONE MAN
ALL PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED SHANE HENDERSON
ALL PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED SHANE HENDERSON
Download Festival doesn’t just stop in Melbourne- Queenslanders got to share in the love through the Download Sideshow held at Brisbane’s Riverstage on Wednesday night. Good Charlotte headlined the show with Aussies Chase Atlantic, Americans Issues and Falling In Reverse as well as Welsh band Neck Deep also playing the gig. The iconic GC logo filled the stage’s backdrop.
The Riverstage is a fantastic venue for such a show- its hill slopes in towards the stage making a semi natural seating with easy viewing. Half the crowd chose to sit on the hill, chilling picnic style while the other half ready to rock, flooded the stage front and sides; moshpitting. Chase Atlantic played first up and Issues followed, warming up for the night to come.
Falling In Reverse was the third cab off the ranks, definitely popular with the moshpitters chanting “Falling” repeatedly. Their banner dropped down over the GC logo, wicked guitar riffs announcing their arrival. They played hits such as Alone and Losing My Mind with the audience singing along, hands bouncing in sync. Their set was full of energy and angst, prompting the chant of “one more!” as the set started reaching its end. Lead singer Ronnie Radke in response, asked the audience to raise their hand “if you or anyone you know are an asshole?” Of course, the majority raised their hands, heading into their final song, Just Like You with great delight from screaming fans jumping around.
The stage then changed over banners to Neck Deep’s art during a fifteen minute intermission giving attendees a chance to get food and drinks. When it hit Neck Deep’s performance time, a countdown lead into deep rumbling audio with piercing guitar riffs. The band opened with Happy Judgement Day, playing songs from The Peace and the Panic and Life’s Not Out To Get You albums for their set. Lead singer, Ben Barlow shared with the audience that “touring with Good Charlotte was something on the bucket list” and “without Good Charlotte, bands like us wouldn’t exist.” They bowed out for the final number Where Do We Go When We Go with the lights flashing down and fading out emulating rain apt for the song’s lyrics.
Noticeably, more people arrived through the gates towards the end of Neck Deep’s set and in the break that followed– they only came for one band. A great deal of those picnicking, packed up their gear, were up standing; moving closer to the stage. The tour shirts were everywhere. Their five year break clearly didn’t hurt their fandom.
The stage went black, everyone screamed. Rumbling audio with sirens and helicopter sounds panning across the speakers. Good Charlotte ran on to the excitement of everyone, opening with The Anthem. As they played, those on the hill kept moving in, dancing and singing along. Theatrical smoke pumped in streams across the stage front. This band was out to put on a truly sick show. Hands were up in the air, bouncing madly. Lead singer, Joel Madden spoke to the audience, saying tonight was special to the band as it was nostalgic to be back in Brisbane. As they continued to play earlier hits, Joel dedicated the song, Riot Girl to all the girls out there and spoke about his daughter, hoping that “she will express herself without sexism, without discrimination.”
The band went on to play a newer hit, Life Changes from their recent album, Youth Authority with Joel speaking about getting back up from tough times and that at the start of the band’s life, it was tough for them. Never once did the audience stop singing along throughout the set. This was as the Madden Brothers proclaimed, “a house party in a really big backyard.” They spoke about their humble beginnings and how times were tough in their small home town. They spoke about their success and that “all the statistics said we should have ended up a lot differently than today, so every time we’re up on stage we’re grateful for you guys.” There was great level of sincerity in those words. This is a band happy and appreciative of where they are in life. To that end, they continued with Motivation Proclamation. Then there was a new chant continuing amongst the moshpitters- “Do it”.
Good Charlotte then got into Keep Your Hands Off My Girl and Makeshift Love, Joel confessing that the brothers didn’t get a lot of hugs when they were younger and now fans’ mothers and grandmothers hug them, also mentioning that the Brothers’ mom and grandma were also with them tonight on the tour; telling the fans to appreciate their moms and grandmas. The “Do it” chant continued to persist. Clearly they hadn’t done what the “Do it” was.
Joel continued along the nostalgia line by talking about how the band had struggled getting their first song on the radio. The first place in the world that played any Good Charlotte, was Brisbane, Australia- this lead them into performing Little Things. The hit songs got bigger and bigger, with numbers like Misery and The Young and The Hopeless. They then had a false start mixing up the cues for Dance Floor Anthem and Last Night, however handled this jokingly and played both songs. That “Do It” chant still persisted.
The gig was reaching its climax with mega hit I Just Wanna Live, the crowd singing louder and louder, responding to Joel’s every vocal challenge. The chant still didn’t die down and when you start working out which song hasn’t been done yet- what they were asking for became obvious. They broke into their break out hit, Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous– suddenly those chanters, broke into screaming praise! During a break in the song, they thanked the staff and shouted out their fellow touring bands, ending with streaming theatrical smoke and pyrotechnics putting the “live” in live show. Fans coming away from this show, satisfied was an understatement. Good Charlotte came to rock the “house party” and rocked it they did!
Review Contributed by Sarah Minazzo
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
The fans definitely felt the 24K Magic last night at Perth Arena, the ‘Hawaiian Lion’, Bruno Mars absolutely brought the house down with his cheeky personality and incredible talent. It’s no wonder that he has sold out both shows here in Perth, the ‘finesse’ singers fans are a force to be reckoned with.
The support was Dua Lipa, the UK singer did not disappoint smashing hit after hit with her powerful vocals, from IDGAF to New Rules leaving the crowd feeling more then just pumped and their vocal cords adequately warmed up for the main act.
Bruno’s cheeky personality shone through with the opening visuals, a short video played saying that he wants to ‘turn us on’ and ‘hear us scream’! The full stage was revealed with the start of ‘Finesse’ when the dark green curtain had lifted, showcasing the ‘fresh n funky’ 80’s style, 59ft wide stage with Bruno and his crew standing at the rear as the drummer and keyboardist arose from a platform beneath the stage. The stage which was built by TAIT brought an almost interactive element to the show as it was forever transforming and keeping the already fascinated audiences eyes glued to the stage.
Bruno also brought a few extra surprises for the fans with a big BANG during the chorus of “finesse”, the first of the pyrotechnics display had started, perfectly in time with the music the fans were stunned by the noise and dazzled by the effects.
Bruno danced his way through his 24K hits with solos from the drummer and keyboardist to showcase their talents and transitioning between songs. “Chunky” started playing and the stage shape changed yet again with platforms rising from the floor and LED screens displaying bold lyric visuals with the band rising to 5ft higher than the stage floor.
Yet again, Bruno had more surprises in store as huge golden confetti cannons were shot over the crowd, drowning the general admission in a sea of gold for “What I like”.
Bruno was definitely ‘what the fans like’ and bursting out with some old-school Mars brought back memories from when “Marry you”, “When I Was Your Man” and “Just The Way You Are” were regularly playing on our radios.
Mars dedicated “Just The Way You Are” to every single one of the fans in the crowd. With emotions flowing throughout the room, it was time for another song to keep that emotion going and to end the night, Bruno came out with “locked out of heaven” the stage morphed around him yet again and lasers were projected to the back of the arena.
But wait there’s more! Bruno reappears after saying his goodbyes for one last song, one last party for the night and of course it couldn’t be anything other than “Uptown Funk”, ending the night in the typical Bruno Mars ‘funky’ way.
Bruno Mars’s 24K Magic Tour is a spectacle to watch and a tour like no other with all elements of sound, vision and performance being flawless. This show was one that the fans will never forget and given the chance, would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
Review Contributed by Nicola Arnold
The build-up has been massive to the inaugural Download Festival that took Melbourne literally by storm on Saturday. The weather gods were not looking kindly upon us, in fact they were giving us the big middle finger as we made our way to Flemington Racecourse for a day of mayhem and madness. With storms descending on us right from the get go you had no choice but to pull on your poncho and embrace the rain. Download is notorious for the rain and Melbourne proved to be no exception to the rule, with small rivers running throughout the venue in no time.
My first stop was the inflatable church with its priest spruiking his wares out the front, dragging unsuspecting punters in for a mock marriage or maybe a prayer or two to cleanse their sins before they hit the stages. The Crypt was open to RIP pass holders, it had easy access to the bar and great food options. There were plenty of tables to have a rest at while you took advantage of the free phone charging and even get a free tattoo at The Original Sailor Jerry’s. But you better get in quick next year if you want RIP access as they sold out in no time this year.
The Avalanche Stage had Clowns opening the day’s proceedings, the crowd went from zero to hero in a matter of seconds and the circle pit was instant. Singer Stevie Williams taking to the crowd for a surf then having a sing from the middle of the mosh while he was there. It really set the tone for the day, it was going to be crazy!! I plotted my course and tried to stick to it, I will do best to give you a snippet of what I saw. Ocean Grove didn’t disappoint on the Black Stage, then it was over to the neighboring Red Stage for Northlane. It can be equivalized to the world’s most metal ping pong match as the bands bounced from stage to stage, the crews working overtime to set and reset over the duration of the shows. Thankfully the rains had eased as Of Mice & Men brought their big sound and also a terrific cover of Pink Floyds Money, then Sabaton gave a killer set, decked out in camo, their melodious metal sound a winner, complete with their hero’s salute on completion of their set. Gojira had the go big or go home approach with smoke cannons and pyro, and I hope the photographers still have some eyebrows left after getting caught in the pit when a burst of flames descended on them. They had the crowd surfers and circle pits running at full force and loving every minute.
Amon Amarth had the fans in a flurry, with one punter in full Viking attire taking to the top of the crowd for a sing-a-long, add to this a wheelchair crowd surfer who was absolutely losing his mind on top of the mosh. Singer Johan Hegg advising us all to Skol!! as he drank from his horn. His parting words Party On, Be Safe and Raise Your Horn!!! Mastodon had the crowd in overdrive with fists pumping and circle pits travelling at warp speed. The swelling crowd leaving nothing in the tank during their 40-minute set. I paid a flying visit to Falling In Reverse on the Dogtooth Stage who slayed their fans with high energy and unending stamina, they went down a treat. Back to the Red Stage for Good Charlotte who wowed the pants off everyone. The fans came from everywhere flooding the stage unlike anything I had seen so far during the day. They gave us all the favourites with the crowd singing back with gusto. I know people had doubts if Good Charlotte fit the bill for Download but the fans spoke with their feet and it was a resounding yes. As the clouds broke and the sun warmed our backs you couldn’t help but think that only in Melbourne could you need a raincoat and sunscreen in the one day.
The lines for the mech tents were unending all day, on talking to people they were disappointed in the wait times and I think there definitely needs to be more merchandise stands available for the next instalment, we love to buy our piece of history albeit a shirt, stubbie holder or a skateboard deck if that takes your fancy, but we don’t want to miss bands in the process.
Suicidal Tendencies lived up to their name with madness taking over the Avalanche Stage, many punters having a death wish as they crowd surfed with reckless abandon. I pitied the photographers in the pit as the metalheads relentlessly flew over the barrier. A little bit more security would not have gone astray. A quick rush back to the Black Stage saw Limp Bizkit whipping the fans up to fever pitch with Fred Durst taking to the crowd for a song, not just up the front but way into the crowd, a real treat for the fans as he sang from their shoulders. The guitarist in full black body paint was quite eerie and I pity him later trying to wash it all off. The crowd was crazy loud with chants and fist pumps seemingly on and endless loop to which Fred said “this is definitely Melbourne!” Our wheelchair crowd surfer popped up again and made the journey over the top loving every minute. One fan treated to a song on stage with Fred as they did their best rendition of George Michael’s Faith. A lucky day for that fan, a moment he will never forget.
Time for a quick refreshment as I ducked over to the market place, and with so many options available it was hard to pick. After a spell in Rare Records picking up a few gems, my decision was made with Hell’s Kitchen right next door and finally their endless line was short enough for me jump in. It was a great decision and I enjoyed a delicious Mary’s Burger as I headed back to check our Prophets of Rage. They gave a spectacular performance wowing the insane crowd, who by this stage were well inebriated, with many paying more than one visit to the Beer Hall to enjoy a cold frothy or six for that matter. With plenty of beer on offer it seems to be a favourite watering hole over the duration of the night. I made the decision to duck across to see Arch Enemy at the Dogtooth Stage and I was glad I did. While there were a few sound issues early on they gave a sensational performance with singer Alissa White-Gluz flinging her trademark blue hair with neck breaking force as she rattled our bones with her growling vocals.
I dashed back to the Red Stage to catch Killing In The Name by Prophets of Rage, a blistering end to their one hour set. Fans screaming for more but knowing tonight there would be no encores just a quick trip next door to the Black Stage for Korn or off to the Avalanche for NOFX. I chose Korn to see out my night at Download but I have it on good authority that NOFX tore the roof of the Avalanche Stage, having a blast and enjoying every minute. The swell of the crowd for Korn was immense, it was evident that this headliner brought a huge presence to Download and the metalheads turned out in force to witness the sensational show they delivered.
To all the bands I missed, I look forward to catching you next time, after this year’s success I would imagine Download Festival Melbourne 2019 is almost guaranteed!
As we filtered out of the festival the vibe was amazing, while many were sore and sorry, some missing shoes, some missing clothes for that matter, everyone was completely satisfied with how the festival had unfolded. A hugely successful event which brought out the fans in massive numbers, not just from Melbourne, many travelling from all parts of Australia and Overseas to be part of the first Download Festival in Australia. While we had four stages to choose from over the course of the day, only in Melbourne would we also had four seasons of weather to match. The rain certainly didn’t dampen any spirits, it made memories that will never be forgotten, and I am proud to say that I came, I saw and I survived Melbourne’s inaugural Download Festival, let’s all raise our horns to next year!
Review Contributed by Cassandra hale
For the two thousand people who battled the sweat and packed conditions at Melbourne’s Forum last night, they got to watch something very special. I guess you could call it a battle of the bulls, the old and the new. On one side Darius Rucker returning to Australia after a 20 year hiatus and on the other Luke Combs barely in his twenties enjoying his first plane ride ever arriving on our shores late last week.
Combs has been making an impression from the moment he touched down in Brisbane to play CMC Rocks Queensland over the weekend. A native of North Carolina Combs is the real deal writing and singing a hat trick of number one country hits over the last 2 years. Combs love of people and one big sweaty party was evident the moment he moved his large imposing frame onto the forum stage. Singing songs about beer, boot scootin and relationship break ups may all sound cliché to some, Combs puts a fresh coat of paint on all the topics. I am sure with Sydney still to come Australia has not seen the last of this man.
As the lights dim on this sweaty Melbourne evening, it’s time for Darius Rucker and his six piece to take to the stage. Cramped in and ready, armed with voices that at times over shadow the man himself, for one night welcome to Australia’s home of country music. Rucker has successfully reinvented himself since his last tour of Australia. As the lead singer of Hootie & the Blowfish he is no stranger to fame, armed with a Grammy Award and several number 1 singles this musical veteran promptly makes himself very comfortable with the sell-out audience. Rucker is living proof he has successfully transitioned from soft rock to the world of country music.
Opening with “This” from the 2010 album Charleston SC 1966, Rucker promptly moves into “Radio” from the 2013 smash True Believers. Dressed in a black t-shirt and jeans Rucker moved and grooved to each song backed by the full house choir. Rucker paused briefly before introducing the fourth song of his set and would you believe it was a cover of the 80’s Men at Work hit “Overkill”. Rucker couldn’t do a show without introducing a few hits he wrote along the way with his Blowfish, “Hold My Hand” went over a treat as did “Let Her Cry” but the biggest reaction came with the worldwide smash “Only Wanna Be With You” which had everybody jumping. It’s hard to believe this trio of hits all came from the 94 album Cracked Rear View, so long ago. The set consisted of a lot of covers from the Garth Brooks classic “Friends in Low Places” to of all things Midnight Oil’s “Beds Are Burning” the audience sang along to all of them. Rucker’s band appear more like friends than members all six play an integral role in the show and are acknowledged (be it very humbly) by Rucker.
Holding the audience in the palm of his hand Rucker closed the first encore with his country smash “Wagon Wheel” which had the audience jumping and dancing, their vocal almost drowned out the band as they sing along, Returning to the stage Rucker finished the night with his version of Prince’s “Purple Rain”.
I think it is fair to say country music is alive and growing. With sell out shows in three different states including the very successful CMC Rocks Queensland expect Rucker to return and Combs also next time as a headliner.
Review Contributed by Natasha Wyborn
You can always count on Melbourne to turn out in force for live music, tonight was no exception with a sold out show at 170 Russell. The line was a long mature based crowd, all happy to natter between themselves while we waited for doors. As we all streamed in I took prime position front and centre and awaited the soul master Andrew Strong. Joe Matera gave us a 30 minute set, just a guy and his guitar happy to warm up the expanding audience. DJ Rich had the tunes flowing while we waited, his selection perfect for the occasion with the lively punters giving us their finest rendition of Sweet Caroline.
The buzz was electric as we waited for the lights to drop, and right on time, Andrew and his crew took to the stage opening with Midnight Hour. With the exception of Andrew’s sister Niamh, the band were all dressed in black suits, looking sharp and fitting of the music. Hand To Handle followed on, Andrew so charismatic and joyful as he belted out song after song. His cheeky grin and effervescent personality flowing through the music as he sang, religiously calling for us to give him more applause and to make more noise, and we did so with gusto! Dark End Of The Street a definitely highlight of mine, the power behind the lyrics enough to give you chills, so beautifully performed it brought a tear to the eye. Then it was Niamh’s turn to come to the forefront with I Can’t Stand The Rain, it was quickly apparently that outstanding pipes run in the family, and that they certainly struck pay dirt in the Strong family gene pool. Take Me To The River, Treat Her Right and Thank You, the hits kept flowing, with the backing of the amazing band that hailed from all corners of the globe, including Italy and Hawaii. The brass section on fire with the tenor sax player giving one of the most amazing solos I have ever seen at the end of Treat Her Right, his stamina was incredible, and he was rewarded with huge applause.
Andrew Strong is far more that just the booming voice we all know and love, he is a consummate professional and entertainer extraordinaire, always keeping crowd participation to the highest level making you feel like part of the show not just a spectator. It is not an easy thing to do but Andrew pulls it off with ease, smiling all the while enjoying every minute. Mustang Sally took it to a new level with the fans going crazing, singing back ‘Ride Melbourne Ride’ at Andrew’s request. Hands clapping on autopilot everyone sweating up a storm, it is just how a good rock show should be as Gimme Some Lovin’ rang out. Thanks were said as Andrew and his cohorts left the stage, but I think we all knew there was still enough left in the tank for a few more. With shouts and stomping we called them back to finish out the night with the James Brown classic I Feel Good and the goose bump inducing Try A Little Tenderness. Andrew so humble with his thanks to us for coming out to see him and to enable him to do what he loves for all his life. The constant support from the Australian fans is such a credit to every person who brought a ticket for the show tonight, no doubt you got your money’s worth and then some.
As the finals bows were taken it was hard to believe that I was a mere 20 year old when The Commitments movie was released. Here I am now with many years under the bridge, seeing these amazing songs sung live and sounding bloody better than ever, such a testament to amazing music, it’s like a fine wine that just gets better with time!
Review Contributed by Cassandra Hale
Photo Credit: Allan Klimo
I’ve always thought Margaret Court Arena a slightly odd music venue. It has seen more heads going from side to side following a tennis ball, than up and down in time to a beat. It feels like a school gym where the kids are allowed on the basketball court for the year 8 dance and lacks the atmosphere of the Forum or even Festival Hall. So I feel that bands who play here really have got to “bring it” to get the crowd going.
The last time I saw Incubus at Soundwave 2015, I was so disappointed. Their stage set up meant that all of the band members were facing in to each other. It felt like they were playing for each other and themselves and not for the crowd and I felt really excluded from the performance. So it was with high hopes for a better experience that I took a seat at Margaret Court Arena last night.
The warm up act was Melbourne’s own Indie, punk, rock, electro enigma, Ecca Vandal. Genre defying is how she has been described, which is why I failed to really attach a satisfactory label to the style of music she offers. I felt a bit sorry for them as they were squeezed down the front of a stage, crowded with equipment draped in black cloth leaving not a lot of room for Ecca to strut in her red cut off shorts and jacket, but she did a good job earning the applause of the Incubus faithful who had arrived early. I’ve seen Ecca Vandal supporting before in a more intimate venue with some of her own fans present and she seems to attack the support role with energy and commitment that I admire. Accompanied by drums, bass and lead who both switched to keyboards and samples regularly, I was reminded of No Doubt and a young Gwen Stefani, a comparison I have since read in other reviews. Having released her debut album, in October 2017 full of catchy, energetic tracks and with a national headlining tour under her belt, I hope big things are ahead.
As the crowd grew and the queue for the bar got longer, I had a chance to observe who was out to see Incubus on the first night of their whirlwind 3 date Australian tour. Not as many man-buns as I expected, and a crowd leaning slightly to the female side, which I totally expected. At last the lights went off and the band appeared to the rapturous applause of the crowd. Lead singer, Brandon Boyd, wearing khaki shirt, black beret and baggy pants is rocking the long haired Jesus look these days. They opened with Glitterbomb from their latest album, 8 which saw Brandon join drummer Jose Pasillas adding to the beat on a large drum. They followed this up with Circles from the seminal “Morning View” of 2001 before back to the present with Nimble Bastard, the first single released from 8.
By this stage, it was clear that Brandon is a man of few words with nothing more than a “thanks” in between songs but that’s OK. The songs and their musicianship have always spoken more for this band, now celebrating 27 years in the industry, than their onstage performance. The 3 founding members, Boyd, Pasillas and guitarist Mike Einziger met in high school and with the addition of DJ Kilmore and Ben Kenney, they form a tight musical unit.
The number one hit, Megalomaniac warmed up the faithful and they sang back with enthusiasm. The extended intro to Pardon Me with Brandon adding to a wall of sound on the pedals and knobs of Einziger’s pedal board disguised the hit well but once the song emerged, a proper pit formed. I think this song particularly has all the signature elements that make Incubus special and unique. Melodic verses, bridging into heavier choruses that you can sing along to, layered with the turntable skills of Chris Kilmore and you have an Incubus song. There may be a formula, but their songs are far from formulaic.
I fully expected Nice to Know You to be their closing encore so was surprised when this song appeared from a very jazzy intro. Stellar got everyone singing and girls up on their boyfriend’s shoulders and the backdrop of the cosmos with solar flares and black holes on the big screen was a fitting accompaniment. A slap bass line led into a cover of INXS Need you Tonight. Boyd was definitely channeling his inner Hutchence, both vocally and in sex appeal (or maybe it was that by this time, the shirt had come off revealing his stunning mandala full back tattoo!). The floor looked like a Saturday night at the Metro in 1989 as a thousand people danced to the Aussie classic.
The last song of the main set was a slightly stripped back verse and chorus of Wish You Were Here. But by the time the 2nd chorus kicked in, they had reverted to the full on version and crowd sang it back with passion. The end of this song segued into the Pink Floyd classic Wish You Were Here and they left the stage to rapturous applause.
The encore began with No Fun, the opening track of 8, followed by a piano and voice verse of Drive, with the chorus supplied by the crowd before continuing with the album version. Warning seemed a fairly soft track to finish on, I thought, but it seemed to please everyone well enough and as they lined up for the obligatory bow, the applause was appreciative and heartfelt.
Incubus have always struck me as bit of an “artsy fartsy” band, particularly with Brandon Boyd dabbling in fine art and writing in between musical projects these days. They also appear as a microcosm of America with such a diverse ethnicity among its, members. Does that relate to Australian audiences? From the reaction of the crowd on Friday, yes it does. Did they “bring it”? Hell yes. Although they seem to focus more on the music and less on the performance than some other acts do, it was a tight and entertaining show and I really enjoyed seeing the passion of the fans who clearly adore them and sang their little hearts out.
Review Contributed by Wendy Smith