ALL PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED ROGER BROOKS PHOTOGRAPHY
ALL PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED ROGER BROOKS PHOTOGRAPHY
Review Roger Brooks
Well here we are at the beginning of another eagerly anticipated tour from the enigmatic The Tea Party, however this time it shall include an orchestral ensemble which tonight was to be the Sydney Youth Orchestra.
The band first performed with a symphony way back in 2002, however, this is the first time that they have taken the concept away from their homeland of Canada. For some time Australia has been considered to be a second home for the band, a home that has adopted them to a degree and has enjoyed several tours with rave reviews covering so many majestical performances… well, tonight was to be no different.
I had personally not seen The Tea Party for some time, and therefore I wandered into the venue sensing some trepidation, foolishly. You know that feeling you get when you attend a huge live act, a band that you have loved for so many years, and for various reasons (one being the years that have rolled by) you walk in wondering if they still have it, when, if it all, will they just cease to sound amazing, when will the music begin to slowly lose that edge, that depth, that magic… well, for The Tea Party it sure as hell ain’t now!
Tonight kicked off with a short acoustic piece played by Jeff Martin, no distortion, no vocals, just a musical introduction to announce that they were here, right here in front of us, and you better be ready.
If you were looking for an upbeat, raunchy guitar riff laden song to get you in the mood to rock then you got it to begin with in the form of the magnificent ‘Temptation,’ and you could instantly feel the room move, and I mean really move. The energy in that room was palpable, the kind of energy that makes you feel alive, that makes you shake your fist positively towards the gods of rock and feel as one with all that are around you.
The charisma that is ‘The Tea Party’ was instantly evident. The guitar riffs, the rhythmic drum beat, and the soothing, smooth keyboard sounds are a timeless existence for this three piece band, however tonight the magnificent Sydney Youth Orchestra playing behind them transformed the already beautiful blend into a much deeper sound, a sound that suddenly had the ability to delve even further into your soul, this was a very special event people!
For me personally, and seemingly a large portion of the people toward the front of the crowd, my favorite track from the band has always been ‘Psychopomp’ and that was next up, and boy did that one go off!
Man, those soaring keyboard notes, especially in the chorus are just monumental and live, well let’s just say that I surely could not have been the only person in the venue with goosebumps!
The trepidation thing I mentioned earlier, yeah, that included wondering what Jeff Martin’s voice was going to sound like, I mean sure he was going to be able to play some really cool guitar licks, however what if his voice had lost its edge, what if that was the one thing that had slightly begun to fall away for the band… ah, not a freaking chance!
Jeff Martin, certainly last night, has lost none of his vocal ability, nor any of his trademark charisma and charms, which as always endeared him to the large crowd. Within just two songs Jeff was already breaking the sets down with dialogue and interaction with the crowd, and I don’t mean the standard “so how ‘ya all doin’ tonight?” I mean real dialogue, engaging, and thoughtful dialogue which included playful funny banter too, a real delight.
Early on during the first of two sets on the night, Jeff Martin told the crowd of the sad passing of his best mate, a mate who had succumbed to cancer that very morning after a very short battle, and at a very young age. As myself and the rest of the crowd momentarily fell into a particularly somber mood Jeff announced that he did not intend, nor wish for this night to be a somber one, but a celebration of his young friend’s life, and so on he and the band, and orchestra continued.
Man, this place was by now totally electrified!
I don’t know about you, however this band, particularly live have the ability to transport you, to allow moments in your day or life where you become transfixed by a riff or melody of theirs and you just lose yourself, you then come out of it and wonder where you went, because you cannot remember what you were actually doing… that is a gift my friends, and ‘The Tea Party’ have it in spades!
And on we went, with constant guitar changes and beautifully saturated colored backdrops and side screens, every song seemingly becoming deeper and deeper, and all with beautifully timed with interludes of banter and captivating dialogue, to which the crowd responded too often.
The band was joined on stage twice by Canadian operatic vocalist Christine Williams, and boy didn’t that work seamlessly with the arrangement. The soaring and effortless multi-octave vocal talent of Christine soaring through the riffs and orchestral pieces, particularly during ‘Walking Wounded’… wow!
After the breathtaking performance by Christine Williams, it was time for a short intermission, mainly for the orchestra to retune… and time for the crowd to take stock of what they have just witnessed during the first set of tonight’s performance.
You know what, I could sense the buzz in the venue as people made their way out for a quick drink during the intermission, you could honestly feel the excitement for what they had seen, and anticipation for what was to come.
Time for the second set, and boom, straight into ‘Transmission’ and once again, with immediate effect, the crowd was jumping.
Somehow, despite the classics that were played during the first set, and the pure rock majesty the second set seemed to take on a heavier and deeper presence. Maybe it was the crowd too, and maybe an extra drink or two thrown in because the crowd turned into more of a rock crowd by standing more often and dancing in the aisles. Don’t get me wrong, the crowd was noisy and into it during the first set, however now they were really letting their hair down and throwing caution to the wind.
People spilled out into the aisles to dance and rock out, there were also several that decided to transform the area in front of the stage into a makeshift dance floor, and the band did not seem to mind that all, I mean why would they?
Again, as with the first set, Jeff Martin stopped between songs to engage with the crowd, and they felt it, really felt it, the band really does make the room come together as one for the performance.
The second set included tracks such as ‘Release,’ ‘Requiem’ and ‘Mantra’ however the biggest cheers and general responses (apart from the encore) came when the band played ‘Heaven’ and ‘Save Me’… the former had most in the crowd cheering, waving and dancing, clearly a favorite for most.
The encore arrived after approximately two hours and included both ‘Winter Solstice’ and ‘Sister Awake’ with an upsurge in intensity, if that was possible and an unmatched level of sheer desire to from the crowd to absorb all that the band had to offer, and the band played up to that, especially Jeff Martin, a real showman.
And so the performance came to an end, just over two hours of pure rock indulgence, littered with a magnificent blend of guitar riffs, smooth and soaring keyboards, rhythmic drum beats, operatic vocals and beautiful orchestral arrangements, plus the timeless charisma of the enigmatic Jeff Martin fronting the band.
This band is real, and they have not lost any of the charm and pure rock genius that they have displayed during their long and distinguished career, and now they have thankfully and graciously brought their stunning orchestral shows to Australia for the first time.
Thank you ‘The Tea Party’ for quashing my initial trepidation with stunning force and magnitude, I, nor the crowd will forget this magnificent performance.
ALL PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED ROGER BROOKS PHOTOGRAPHY
ALL PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED ROGER BROOKS PHOTOGRAPHY
Review Rochelle Cupido
Ever since Jessica Mauboy’s rise to fame after her appearance on Australian Idol many years ago, she has endeared herself to not only fans across Australia, but also to many across the world as her profile continues to soar.
Tonight, it was Sydney’s opportunity to bask in the magnificent glory that is a performance filled with passion, emotion, musical indulgence and most of all, just plain fun.
Tonight was to be a performance based on her story, the Jessica Mauboy story, filled with emotional memories of her childhood, including her early forays into singing and performing, and subsequent rise to greater fame.
Before Jessica graced the stage, the large crowd was treated to a short performance by Isaiah Firebrace, a young man who won X Factor in 2016, and who will be representing Australia at Eurovision 2017.
A quiet and relatively intimate set, with just Isaiah and two other musicians on stage, as Isaiah’s beautiful vocal range soared and thrilled the crowd, be sure to check out his music and follow his performance at Eurovision.
After beginning the performance with a few highly charged dance numbers, Jessica brought the tone down when she was joined on stage by five musicians, all with acoustic musical accompaniments and began relating stories of how as a young child Jessica was fascinated and charmed by country artists. She began to sing various country classics such as Tammy Wynette’s ‘Stand By Your Man’ whilst large images of country and outback Australia appeared on the stage backdrop.
The story telling set the tone for the rest of the show, as Jessica affectionately giggled her way through specific details of her childhood as she interacted with the large crowd, she had very fond memories to share and the crowd were all too willing to listen, shouting out cries of “we love you Jessica” often, to which Jessica responded by sending the same message straight back.
This was clearly a very intimate setting, despite the size of the venue and the large crowd which had gathered.
With all but one of the five acoustic musicians exiting the stage, it was now only Jessica and another, who both then preceded to sit on the very edge of the stage and perform the ‘Crowded House’ classic “Better Be Home Soon’ much to the excitement of the crowd, a real sing-a-long affair ensued.
One of the really emotionally charged moments of the performance came when Jessica recalled how her father used to drive Jessica and her siblings around in the family ute, with all of the children sitting in the back. The crowd was told that Jessica’s mother tended to be the DJ, and often gravitated toward playing ‘Cold Chisel’ with all of the children singing along loudly to the songs from the back of the ute… and sure enough, Jessica, accompanied by just one acoustic guitarist blended straight into Cold Chisel’s ‘Flame Trees’ which again, had the crowd singing along in unison… a very special moment indeed.
And on the stories went, beautiful stories that not only touched Jessica, however they also seemed to touch the hearts of the large crowd.
There was the time when Jessica, at the age of thirteen or fourteen, travelled with her family to Tamworth to perform, the first time she ever played with a full band. After arriving in Tamworth, Jessica’s mother disappeared for a short while and returned with a key, when asked what the key was for the children were told that it was for a house that Jessica’s mother had arranged for the whole family to stay in whilst in town. The problem was that the house was completely empty, no furniture, no bedding, no fridge etc, then Jessica’s mother left again, only to return with inflatable mattresses for everyone to sleep on.
All the while Jessica radiated as she relayed these strong and very fond memories of the family’s adventures, and the crowd absolutely loved it.
Jessica went on to say that it was that very first time in Tamworth performing with a full band that seemed to become a life changing moment for her, a moment where she thought that this could really be her calling, to be able to perform professionally and do what she is truly passionate about.
The crowd then watched a short piece of footage from Jessica’s first appearance on Australian Idol as she exited the stage for one of her several costume changes on the night.
When Jessica returned to the stage, she began to relay to the crowd just what her mother truly meant to her, and then, as she tried to hold back tears, she performed a stunning ballad with just Jessica on vocals and piano… this one folks had the large section of the crowd toward the front standing and cheering, and clearly Jessica was very appreciative of that.
Another costume change and it was time for the performance to change tempo again, no rest for the wicked. As Jessica was changing costume, the crowd was treated to footage of Jessica’s appearance in the movie ‘The Sapphires’ and then, when Jessica returned to the stage she and the band launched into several Motown classics, and by now the crowd was pumping, singing and dancing along in a highly energised surrounding.
As the show drew closer to the end, Jessica announced that it was time to pop a bottle, and so the band launched into her hit ‘Pop A Bottle (Fill Me Up)’ which almost tore the roof of this amazing venue!
And so, just like that this amazing performance of just over two hours concluded, with a buzz and energy which you only associate with high level acts that bring together performances that leave you breathless, and appreciative of the artist and their entourage for the show that they bring to you – real entertainment.
This show is a rollercoaster filled with emotional twists and turns, with beautiful tales of Jessica’s upbringing and warm family nature, with uplifting stories of Jessica’s passion for music and performing at a very young age, and her subsequent rise to fame doing what she truly loves to do.
This show is for pretty much everyone, a perfect environment for a great night out shared with family and friends, because that what Jessica brings to the party, not just her magnificent voice accompanied by a fantastic band, but also through her warming and heartfelt recollections of a life thus far filled with joy and hope… we can all learn from Jessica’s wonderful approach to everything she does, I did, and it feels great!
Review Cassandra Hale
It was evident the bedazzlers had been in overdrive leading up to the Dixie Chicks sold out shows at Rod Laver Arena. With no rhinestone left unturned the hoards boot scooted their way down Batman Avenue for a night of country tunes with this terrific trio.
Avalanche City hailing from New Zealand was the warm up to get the nights proceedings underway. Dave Baxter has had huge success in his homeland and showed us why he has several number one hits in the New Zealand charts with songs such as Love, Love, Love and Inside Out. A solid 45 minute set was enjoyed by all. I don’t think he had the lighting he deserved, and I found it difficult to see the band for quite a bit of their performance.
A disclaimer was read several times on entry to Rod Laver Arena stating the show was being filmed for a DVD, which answered a few questions as to why the roadies were wearing surgical booties, clearly they were keeping the stage super clean for the DVD footage. Michael Chugg even graced the stage reminding us yet again that we were being recorded. With all the housekeeping taken care of it was time to get on with the show.
Due to the filming the house lights were not dropped which I did not like, but it didn’t seem to worry the fans too much. Let’s Go Crazy by Prince rang out which built the anticipation a notch or two until it was finally time for the Dixie Chicks to take the stage.
Opening with The Long Way Around to thunderous applause the Dixie Chicks were off and running in what would be a huge two hour show filled with plenty of hits to keep everyone satisfied. Some Days You Gotta Dance did just that and everyone was on there feet enjoying the spectacle. With a stage of all black and white and outfits to match the Chicks looked pristine and all class as they played their hearts out to the adoring fans. A beautiful tribute to Prince with Nothing Compares to You brought tears to many an eye, the man himself would have been proud, they did an amazing job.
Taking the show down to stools and minimal instruments in front of a curtain at the front of the stage was a nice touch, it gave an intimacy that we are not often shown in big stage shows. The girls had changed their clothes from ‘black and white’ to ‘white and black’ keeping in the theme of the night. Their bluegrass roots shone through during this set and it was a part of the show I really enjoyed. Travelin’ Soldier, Don’t Let Me Die in Florida and Daddy Lessons were a few played before the girls did a cracker of a bluegrass instrumental. The musical talent these three have is evident in every song they played and Natalie’s voice was pitch perfect in every word she sang. It was wonderful to see that three of the backing band hail from Australia, a real credit to them, and not too shabby to put on your resume.
Back to the main stage and the floor that was black was now white, still fitting in with the colour free theme. Ready to Run was fabulous and clearly a fan favourite, finishing with confetti cannons from all corners of Rod Laver Arena. The variety of cowboy boots on display was fascinating, fringes adorned every second person in some way shape or form, as did the cowboy hats and I think there might have been a sale on pink ones as they were the choice of many.
The Fleetwood Mac cover of Landslide was beautifully performed, backed up with Cowboy Take Me Away, Wide Open Spaces and Sin Wagon to finish out the set.
I can’t recall exactly what song it was but I believe it may have been Sin Wagon when the square dancing ensued on the floor, the camera man made a mad dash to film it, so there is no doubt it will make the DVD. Well done to the participants you dosey doe’d quite unlike anyone I have seen before!
A brief moment or two and it was into the encore, Not Ready to Make Nice had this country loving crowd kicking up their heels and eager for one more. A cover of Ben Harper’s Better Way rained out giving the fans the chant they had been waiting for. They sang back with gusto, loving every minute. The two hours flew by but I am sure many will be back for the second show on Sunday night.
While my hat may not be of the cowboy variety, I would still take it off and say job well done, a very entertaining show!
Review Anita Bergamin
Alter Bridge are no strangers to Australian shores, and the growing anticipation in the lead up to the Australian leg of The Last Hero tour only solidified the fact that this band has a dedicated fan base down under. Bringing previous tour mates, US-based Kiwi foursome, Like A Storm to fill the supporting slot on their respective first ever Australian tour and the first hometown shows across the ditch in a decade, their presence was certainly well received by the near sell-out crowd.
The self-proclaimed didgeridoo metallers, made up of multi-talented vocalist, rhythm guitarist and didgeridoo player Chris Brooks, his brothers Kent and Matt Brooks on the bass and lead guitar respectively, and rounded out by drummer Zach Wood, Quickly won the crowd over with their one of a kind stage presence and unmistakable passion for performing live. Performing a range of songs off both of their studio releases, including Chaos, Never Surrender and Become The Enemy, before Chris stepped back allowing Matt to showcase his impressive vocal talents on somber track Break Free.
If there was anybody in the room not yet convinced of Like A Storm’s extensive abilities, they were very quickly sold when they powered into a cover of AC/DC’s T.N.T, before rounding out their nine-track set with Pure Evil and Love The Way You Hate Me.
Before long, streams of lights began sweeping over the crowd for what felt like minutes, as if headliners Alter Bridge were cautiously attempting to scope out what kind of crowd they would be up against… before saying ‘eff it’ and diving in head first, straight into The Writing On The Wall, Come To Life and Farther Than The Sun, much to the delight of everybody in the room, who had the entire floor bouncing – as if being on a trampoline with a couple of thousand other people.
By Addicted To Pain it was clear that Alter Bridge are nothing if not a well-oiled machine, playing together as one collective unit with ease, almost as if by muscle memory, making even the guitar solos from both main axeman Mark Tremonti and frontman Myles Kennedy appear effortless. Myles, who has in the past admitted to ‘hiding behind his guitar,’ seeming to have grown as a performer in recent years, now interacting with the crowd and letting his quirks and on-stage antics shine through more than ever. Bassist Brian Marshall and Scott Phillips on the drums held down the rhythm section faultlessly. These boys were having a blast and they weren’t afraid to show it, with Myles, Mark and Brian spending the majority of the set up close and personal with their fans.
Rounding out the first half of their impressive 20 song set, Cry Of Achilles, Crows On A Wire and Ties That Bind certainly proved that the crowd was well and truly warmed up, easily surpassing Myles in the volume stakes. My Champion was received enthusiastically, despite the crowd seemingly hitting a wall halfway through, most likely worn out after giving their all in the predeceasing tracks.
Stopping to talk to the crowd properly for the first time, a heartfelt moment quickly falling to the gutter when Myles, explaining why he shouldn’t be allowed to talk because he “says a lot of stupid shit,” seconds later proves his point telling a story about how much long black he’d had. (Coffee, people! He was talking about coffee!) Before cutting off the laughter by launching into acoustic renditions of Wonderful Life and Watch Over You, these tracks couldn’t have come at a better time.
The last fee songs of the set saw the crowd much more mellow appearing to be feeling the groove of the guitars, a stark contrast to earlier on in the set, although clearly not deterring the band who were rocking as hard as ever. The night ending on a high with fan favourites Show Me A Leader and Rise Today, with the highlight of the encore without a doubt being the duelling guitar solos between Mark and Myles from opposite sides of the stage, Myles standing back watching Mark shred away with a grin on his face that can only be described as the look of a proud father.
Alter Bridge proving once again that they are at the top of their game and still loving every second of what they do. They are as tight as ever and show no signs of slowing down, with Myles Kennedy clearly enjoying being able to nurture his main band again for a while. These guys are in a place where they can only push their own boundaries and just keep getting better and better. And better.
ALL PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED ROGER BROOKS PHOTOGRAPHY
ALL PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED ROGER BROOKS PHOTOGRAPHY
Review Cassandra Hale
Last night it was back to 170 Russell, a great intimate venue to get up close with your favourite bands. I do enjoy gigs at 170 Russell but it is not known for its ventilation and Melbourne had dealt us another hot day so we all knew what to expect. I really must point out that I think the lack of lighting is bordering on dangerous, my point was definitely proven when I entered the ladies only to find a man walking out, he looked as confused as I did, it was so dark you could not see the men from the women. Not that there were many women, we seemed to be outnumbered 100 to 1. I found a nice spot a little distance from the stage under an industrial fan which served to keep me cool all night
Thy Art is Murder played a short set of 45 minutes to an enthusiastically brutal fan base, this deathcore band hailing from Sydney relished in the craziness their fans brought to the floor, the singer even taking to the crowd for a surf. While deathcore is not necessarily a genre I enjoy I can see that the black t-shirt clan that turned out definitely did. Singer, Chris McMahon had a few chats with the audience stating his struggles with drugs over the past year and advising everyone to be sensible, and enjoy life, hopefully his words were taken on board, you never know it might save someone’s life.
Swedish extreme metal band Meshuggah have a massive following in Melbourne, with tonight being one of two shows at 170 Russell, if merchandise was anything to go by there were plenty of t-shirts getting a run! An hour and a half set comprising of 14 songs played out to intense moshing and head banging. Clockworks, Born in Dissonance and Sane a terrific opening trifecta to set the tone for how the evening would play out. The sound was sharp and the lighting and laser shows were a spectacle worthy of White Night! The top twelve songs finished up with Bleed a definite crowd favourite. Heads were nodding on auto pilot, all totally consumed in the music, some even with eyes closed completed absorbed in sound enjoying every last second, or maybe just giving their retinas a rest from the fierce light show.
Lead vocalist Jens Kidman was a man of very few words, just a quick hello and thanks for your support, I would have liked to see a little bit more interaction with the crowd but clearly it didn’t seem to worry them much. A never ending steam of bodies surfed over the top during the course of the night, many coming down to earth with a mighty thud, and maybe a broken rib or two. Security was working overtime and it is one profession I definitely do not envy. I watched the sweaty bodies bouncing around from the comfort of my breezy position and was very happy with my fore thinking.
An encore of two comprising Demiurge and Future Breed Machine got fists pumping and sweat flying for the final few minutes, the moshers not wasting a single note of the Swedish metal machine that is Meshuggah in full flight.
The army of spent fans filtered out onto Russell Street another awesome gig under their belts, and I am sure a large portion will be back again tomorrow to do it all again.