Featured Gig Reviews, Gig Reviews, Reviews 2019, ANBERLIN, antiskeptic, Australian Tour, SBM Presents, Vanessa Jarvis, Wendy Smith
I consider myself fairly well rounded musically, especially when it comes to radio-friendly American rock which is my genre of choice, but Anberlin had completely passed me by. I turned to Spotify to educate me a bit before this gig and there was not a single “aaahhh, I know this song” moment. Nothing, nada, niet. I had literally, never heard of them. But turning up to the Forum last night, I find the floor already packed for the start of the support band. Anberlin must be a guy band. I’d reckon it’s at least a 3:1 ratio. A mix of checked shirts, beanies, beards (of course) with the occasional top knot, a few with girlfriends on tow, but mostly groups of guys. I’m intrigued.
Opening for Anberlin is Melbourne’s own Antiskeptic. Singer and guitarist Andrew Kitchen, tells us that they toured with Anberlin on their first tour of Australia in 2005. “They’re like the American Us.” He says. “Brothers from another mother.” Antiskeptic plays guitar-based, atmospheric rock. Performing tonight as a 3 piece with original members Andrew Kitchen and Nick Coppin, joined by Sean Daly on bass. Sean dressed in 3 piece suit with his beard in a ponytail (is that a beardytail?), he looked more suited to System of a Down and Download than the Forum. Being the Aussie version of Anberlin meant there was a lot of fan crossover and their set was very well received.
The lights dim and the crowd got loud. Anberlin opens with the upbeat Godspeed followed by Never Take Friendship Personal (the grammar nazi in me struggles with that one). It is clear after just these first 2 songs, but also from listening to a live album on Spotify, that a staple in Anberlin’s live show is plenty of singalong and crowd response opportunities. And the all-male pit obliged enthusiastically with a heartfelt “I really don’t care” during the bridge of this song. Lead singer and founding member, Stephen Christian is up on the rail, pumping the crowd up.
This is the 13th time that Anberlin have toured Australia since 2005, their last outing being 5 years ago on their “farewell” tour. They have even written a song about Australia entitled Adelaide. Apparently, at the Brisbane gig, they even found someone in the audience called Adelaide that they could sing too. There was much audience participation. Stephen commenced an impromptu Q & A session inviting questions from members of the audience (although he declined the request to show his tattoo). He also made a point of calling out people he’d met at the meet and greet sessions that had travelled and been to multiple shows. Including the girl from Tassie who had quit her job as they wouldn’t give her the time off. Now that’s dedication and I love it when bands acknowledge this dedication and don’t take it for granted.
The middle of the set slowed the pace a bit with a number of more balladic (new word, I just made it up) songs including Inevitable, The Unwinding Cable Car and (The Symphony of) Blasé. Before picking up the pace again towards the end of their 20 song main set. The encore was the appropriately named Fin.
So last night, I went from completely ignorant, to a fan. With wordy verses and hella catchy choruses, Anberlin ticks a lot of musical checklists. They gave an energetic, engaging performance with good patter from Stephen Christian, and I just love a band that has fans that love them. It’s the difference between going to a gig not knowing a single song and still having a great time, and being bored stiff. I’ll be sure to go along on their next farewell tour.
Review Contributed by Wendy Smith
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Featured Gig Reviews, Gig Reviews, Reviews 2019, Australian Tour, Cassandra Hale, Chugg Entertainment, Hozier, Melbourne, Vanessa Jarvis
The 25th of April marks ANZAC day, a time to remember those who bravely fought for the freedom we enjoy today. So after paying my respects at my local RSL service, I made my way to the iconic Palais Theatre to take in the soulful music of Hozier. Thursday night is the first of two sold-out shows in Melbourne, a testament to the huge following that he has amassed since his enormous hit Take Me To Church.
Opening the night’s proceedings was local musician Didirri, who has gone from being a Melbourne street busker three years ago to a full-time musician today. His 30-minute set was definitely not long enough, his onstage charm and beautifully written songs wowed the audience, he held them in the palm of his hand over the duration of his stage time. Didirri delivered black comedy as good as anyone who just performed at the Comedy Festival, add to that his rich voice and luscious locks and he really is the whole package. While he may have been just a guy and his guitar, he didn’t require anything more, captivating from his opening note Dirirri is one to check out sooner rather than later with all of his music available from the usual streaming outlets. I guarantee you will be keeping his soothing tunes on high rotation.
Talking about luscious locks, it was time for the main event and the man of the moment, Hozier. With a sell-out night one, the Palais was packed to the brim and calling the fans vocal would be the understatement of the year. The screaming was deafening as he and his band took to the stage, opening with the captivating Would That I. Dinner & Diatribes was next, followed by Nina Cried Power, which had quite a gospel feel to it. The extensive band were multi-instrumentalists and their singing complimented Hozier perfectly. It was then that Hozier suggested to the audience that the wooden things they were sitting on were “just a suggestion” and with that, the floor arose as one and happily stayed that way for the duration of the show.
With guitar changes a plenty, Hozier powered through his set including Someone New, which had the fans, myself included grooving like no one was watching. Nobody and From Eden slotted in nicely and Wasteland, Baby! saw Hozier take to the stage solo, just a perfectly placed light and his acoustic guitar. The addition of light poles at the rear of the stage projected well, along with a myriad of smoke machines which added depth to the performance. The band brought along their clapping hands and were not afraid to use them! They had us clapping on autopilot by nights end, even serving us up some pretty tricky rhythm changes which did have a few of the audience stumped with random claps ringing out from time to time, for future reference, never clap on one and three!
The light poles worked intricately with the bass drum and the impact was sensational from my vantage point. All the musicians and singers were brilliant, talented artists keeping the show running like clockwork and sounding sensational. The rear screen projected huge windows which changed colours over the course of the evening, something so simple, yet so powerful, as No Plan, To Be Alone and Almost (Sweet Music) played out. Movement saw the most magical of lighting play out with ribbons of white flooding the theatre and smoke billowing across the stage it was like a wonderland and quite stunning for the spellbound fans.
The song that needed no introduction was, of course, Take Me To Church, Hozier’s vocals sublime as we swayed in time, feeling like part of a congregation. He preached his music and we were the worthiest of receivers, hanging on every word. Leaving us hungry for more I was saddened as goodbyes were said, but we stomped and clapped hopeful of just a few more. The screams reached fever pitch as Hozier returned to the stage solo, delivering the most beautiful of songs, Cherry Wine, the fans singing so loud it sent tingles up the spine of even the most hardened. Once again just his guitar and a spotlight, stunningly sung and a highlight of the evening.
The band returned to the stage to play out the night with Work Song, the clapping was regimented but perfect, the singing taking it to celestial heights, the fans so invested some even welling up from the sheer loveliness. An exceptional choice to close out a most magnificent night.
Hozier’s music was food for the soul and the evening left me feeling like I just finished a delicious banquet, completely content and satisfied. A must see show of the highest order, you will laugh, sing and cry and you will love every minute!
Review Contributed by Cassandra Hale
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JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS
THE LIVING END
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