Review By Emily White
Fog, booze, and mismatched limbs filled the iconic Forum last Friday night as the homegrown rock superstars, Slowly Slowly, took to the stage. Returning less than a year after their previous headlining tour, fans gathered to celebrate the release of the band’s fourth studio album Daisy Chain. Supported by some of Australia’s best indie rock bands, it is no wonder the building was packed shoulder-to-shoulder; the perfect storm for a resurgence of some 90s style moshing.
Those who made it to the venue early were in for quite the appetiser. Australian indie rock band CLEWS opened the night gorgeously; an absolute standout being the sister duo, Lily and Grace Richardson’s dreamy harmonies. Backed by heavy drums and cleverly placed bass licks, the band boasts a vintage sound with a face of modern glamour.
Kicking off with recent single Everything Is Heavy, the group laid down their signature sound. Melodic guitar paired with angsty vocals pay homage to their early-rock influences, including The Beatles and Oasis. Being introduced as ‘the juicy heartbroken one’, Love Prank made its debut. Beginning slow and ballad-like, the track steadily builds momentum towards a highly emotive, heavily crashing bridge. Lyrically, CLEWS walks a narrow line between specific and relatable – stunning poetry written from the heart. The relationship between the sisters crafted what was an impressively personal set, capturing the unwavering attention of the audience in only a few songs. I was left pondering on the lack of blatant femininity in rock music, as CLEWS displayed what was the perfect dichotomy.
Cocky and confident; the second support of the night, Between You & Me put on what felt like a headlining show in the span of only forty minutes. The Melbourne-based indie pop-punk band resurrects the sound of the late 90s/early 2000s punk scene, whilst delivering the stage presence of an international supergroup.
‘Are you ready to fucking rock with us tonight?’, frontman Jake Wilson abruptly addressed the crowd, giving them no choice but to be obedient to his every word. From this point Between You & Me demanded to be seen – blinding strobe lights paired with heavy metal drumming and aggressive, yet superb vocals. Showcasing only a slice of their impressive discography, tracks such as Supervillain, Nevermind, and Pleased to Meet You had the venue shaking, heads banging, and bodies flying. The band has truly nailed their sound, with each song being full-bodied and layered to the brink of insanity.
It is hard not to fall in love with the image of an angsty punk band; grown out hair and low hung guitars. Between You & Me provide a relatability for their audiences, and an outlet for chaos and rage. ‘This could be the last show we ever play!’ Jake exclaimed. Possibly a slight dramatization, but this man has the rockstar persona nailed down. Making a simple gesture with his hand, the crowd surged into one synchronous pit circle before the singer threw himself from the stage; surfing over what was until now, a group of strangers. Leaving nothing but a cluster of sweaty bodies behind, The Forum was adequately prepared for Slowly Slowly to work their magic.
The room darkened as anticipation grew – silhouettes of the four band members flashed rapidly, obscured behind a thin white sheet. Familiar sounds of tuning instruments rung out through the venue. You could feel the chaos that was about to unfold. In the blink of an eye the curtain dropped – and the familiar rhythm of title track, Daisy Chain, shook the wooden floor beneath. For the next two hours there was not a second of stillness or silence as front man, Ben Stewart, took the crowd into his world.
It is not often that you get to experience the thrill of a classic live rock band. There is something so magical about the unwritten relationship between artist and audience that builds up to such chaos, and tonight was the perfect storm. Within the first five minutes, Slowly Slowly had the mosh pit in shambles, crowd surfers appearing one after another. ‘How self-indulgent to play an album in full’ Ben exclaimed… unexpectedly, Melbourne was in for a one-night-only special.
Iconic rock jams including Alchemy and Hold My Breath saw fans reciting every word. Emotionally heavy lyricism delivered in a high-energy package is a consistent theme throughout the album; and is evidently a shared outlet for both the band and avid listeners.
Throwing in a few ‘relics’ of the past, the 2015 single Empty Lungs saw the band’s fourth wall completely shatter, the frontman letting his hair down both physically and figuratively. Spitting lines with incredible speed, Achilles’ Heel dips its toes into the rap genre, a back-and-forth battle between the voices on stage and in the crowd. Moving Trains and Race Car Blues concluded the first sequence of the night, being followed by an unexpectedly dreamy piano interlude. As if the previous musically anarchy hadn’t been enough to throw the crowd off balance, Ben suddenly appeared in the centre of the venue. Confidently making his way over banisters and through the crowd he eventually found stillness, standing over one of the booths full of fans.
The gorgeous three-song hiatus from Slowly Slowly’s typical rock persona was a window into something far more personal. Suicidal Evangelist, Papier-Mâché and Medicine were performed in an acoustic style, showing vulnerability through lyrics such as, ‘I can tell you how I'm feeling, but only when I'm on stage’. Constantly checking in with the crowd, ‘are you losing focus?’, it was clear that the band were eager to return to the high-energy routine they are known for.
The night played out as one extensive, high-energy rock masterpiece – ingeniously retaining the attention of the entire sold-out venue. Reminding us that ‘we’re not gonna be back for a while’, the crowd collectively discarded any reservations, generating an impressively wild mosh pit. Classic pop-rock tune Blueprint closed out the show – but not before one final menacing stage dive.
The collective exhale of the crowd as they departed the venue was that of pure joy; ringing ears and pounding hearts remained as a reminder of the memories made. With an unbeatable stage presence and absolute raw talent, it is clear to see why Slowly Slowly has been returning to Australian stages year after year. Daisy Chain is an album so profound in its lyricism yet unhinged in its delivery. An age-old contrast proven to leave rock enthusiasts thirsting for more.