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Album ReviewReviews

[Album Review] 10,000 Volts – Ace Frehley

10,000 Volts is launched into the stratosphere February 23 so mark your calendar you will not want to miss this!

The Spaceman is back, but for many he never left! As a dedicated follower of Ace Frehley I was beyond excited to wrap my listening gear around his latest release and give you my thoughts.

The opening track 10,000 Volts is instantly stuck in your head, that trademark Ace opening is right there from the get-go with riffs galore and a catchy chorus. Of course, Ace never strays far from his outer space roots and this album is not exception, with song two aptly named Walking On The Moon. While this one is a bit slower it still has lots to love, with the Frehley sound stamped heavily on it.

Cosmic Heart sees a mind-bending solo and Ace really showcases his shredding skills. Every song has a memorable moment that makes you instantly know this is Ace’s handiwork at play. Produced by Ace himself along with Steve Brown you can see the 50 plus years’ experience from Ace being poured into each and every song.

Cherry Medicine opens with another heavy riff and one synonymous with Ace, it is raw and rugged and I love it. While the album screams Ace Frehley from every pore, I still believe there has been a little bit of explorative work done to expand and change his sound to keep things interesting. Another stinging solo popped in the middle keeps you bopping along and singing ‘Cherry Medicine’ out loud by the song’s conclusion. Back Into My Arms Again slows down the pace and reminds us that Ace can write a little love ditty if he needs to. Then we are back to the punchier tracks with Fighting For Life. This song holds it place on the album with vigour, it instantly had my foot tapping with its catchy hooks and snappy lyrics.

I know there has been a lot of correlation to Ace’s solo Kiss album, and while I can see it reflected here it has its own feel and I would not be one to set them side by side. Blinded and Constantly Cute lift the second half of this album and keep you engaged to listen to the last few tracks. I know at times the second half of albums can lag but this is not the case with 10,000 Volts.  It seems to pick up the pace as the album comes to its conclusion with Life Of A Stranger pulling on the blues vibe which I really enjoy.  It isn’t often we see Ace experiment with these different genres and I like it.

Up In The Sky gives me instant New York Groove feels and I bloody love it, Kiss fans will eat this one up. Even his vocal tone brings out the nostalgic 70’s Kiss energy. It is placed well on the album sitting close to the finish line and ingraining on your memory as you take in the last song Stratosphere. Another theme fitting song, Stratosphere is an instrumental that ties everything on 10,000 Volts together. With some lovely guitar work it has a relaxed feel and is very easy to listen too. It showcases Ace’s skills and rounds the album out perfectly.

Fans of Ace will gobble this album up with wild abandon and it may even just swing those who are on the fence. All in all 10,000 Volts is a very solid delivery of new material and will recharge the batteries of those waiting for some new tunes.  It is clear that Ace is going nowhere and is still smashing out some cool material that rivals anything else that is flooding the market currently. I will be adding it to my playlist immediately and I recommend you do the same.

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Album InterviewsInterviews

Interview with Sainthill (Q & A)

Drawing you into a world of dreamy shoegaze and pulsating charm, the new single The Black Bull out today from Melbourne-based artist Sainthill is a lush and evocative journey taken from the talented artist’s impending new album Dream Animal, set for release on Friday March 1. A track many years in the making, The Black Bull also arrives today accompanied by an aptly whimsical music video.

(STM) Tell us about your new single The Black Bull?

All the songs on my upcoming album originated from dreams, and for this song it was (unsurprisingly) one about a black bull. I took that for its obvious metaphor (a black animal as depression) and told the story of someone taking matters into their own hands – in this case to train as a matador and overcome it (as grotesque as bullfighting is). Production-wise, I was inspired by the textures and sounds of bands like Slowdive and The Cure who often weave pulsing bass with shoegaze elements along with a bittersweet, melancholic atmosphere.

Dream Animal is your new album out on March 1, tell us about your creative process of putting an album together?  Has it been different to the way you’ve approached your other three albums?

I dream a lot and have hundreds of dream journal entries. I noticed an exceptional (or perhaps disturbing?) amount of animal appearances, and these encounters became the basis for the album’s lyrics – moralistic tales and reflections on the subconscious involving lost cats, vulnerable horses, and sinister bulls. I intentionally made sure each song had a chorus – my previous work was often meandering – this time there are hooks in every track! Production-wise, I leant into dreampop, shoegaze and indie folk sounds, with lots of guitar, synth and vocal layers.

If you could change something about the music industry what would change?

Some of my friends are my favourite musicians, and I think they make some of the best music around. It’s a real shame there isn’t more exposure for indie and underground Australian music I guess, and I don’t know many folks who are able to support themselves financially on music alone. So, if I could wave my magic wand and fix that, I would! It also upsets me when venues end up having to close and/or get turned into a gastropub, however the way the Melbourne music scene rallies around and supports when venues are in strife is really inspiring.

What do you think life would be like for you if you didn’t have music/visual art as an outlet?

I’d probably spend more time outdoors – I love camping and hiking but don’t get out there often enough. I’d get into a sport of some kind, maybe an amateur basketball team or pick up fencing again (I used to fence as a teen). In general, I’d have much, much more spare time!

Is there anyone you would like to collaborate with?

I’d love to write a suite of songs (with heaps of strings and synths) and have someone with an ethereal voice do all the vocals. So, with that in mind, my dream (but highly unlikely) collaboration would be with the great Elizabeth Fraser from Cocteau Twins.

What’s your advice to young people who want to make a career for themselves in the industry?

It’s fairly common advice, but always, always just be yourself. Musicians chasing fame and writing music that attempts to be popular or adhere to trends/algorithms will always come across as fairly soulless. If it’s in your heart to make weird music, do that. At the end of the day it’s the creativity and authenticity that draws people in.

What’s your favourite song to perform?

There’s a song off an older album of mine called ‘The Skelton Castle (1806)’ – it’s a loop of three chords with multiple lead guitar lines layered over, so it’s fun to play. The lyrics are based off letters an ancestor of mine wrote to his mother while on board the Skelton Castle ship in 1806. Sadly, the ship sunk and my ancestor drowned, though the meaningful exchanges between this son and mother live on through the song.

Got any secret hobbies that we might be surprised by?

I love to draw. For a while in my 20s I was actually a freelance illustrator, but that life wasn’t for me. When I’m not recording or releasing music, I do more of it, generally my pictures are surreal cartoon landscapes with an array of fantastical creatures (think 80s dark puppet movies!)

You’re set to perform at The Gaso next month, what can fans expect from your show?

I don’t play live all that much, so when I do I like it to be really special. I like to play as much as the new album as possible and throw in a sprinkling of older songs (for my long term fans haha). I get some musical mates to fill out the sound – drums, bass, keys etc. I also like arvo gigs so my friends with kids can come and I can get to bed on time.  

 New single ‘The Black Bull’ from forthcoming album ‘Dream Animal’ out March 1

Album launch at The Gaso Upstairs on Sunday April 14.

https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/sainthill/dream-animal-3

Listen: THE BLACK BULL

Watch: THE BLACK BULL

Stream: THE BLACK BULL

SAINTHILL – THE BLACK BULL – Official single artwork

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[Review] Mudvayne @ Hordern Pavillion, Sydney 16/02/2024

After 18 long years between Australian tours, a 12 year hiatus and no new music since 2009 you cannot tell a single person in this venue that the masters of math metal, Mudvayne, are no longer relevant. With the loco ones, Coal Chamber in tow this is a neat little package of nu metal goodness we could only dream of.

After a sold out kick off in Brisbane two nights ago, tonight’s performance in Sydney takes place at the Hordern Pavilion. A line begins to build early, as bars nearby overflow with friends recounting memories of seeing these bands countless years ago. Many old school band shirts came out of the back of the drawer as I spot shirts from Mudvayne tours of the past. Most no longer black, fading to the lighter shade of grey, still adorned proudly.

Before we knew it the lights dimmed, Coal Chambers neon colourful lights shone menacingly around their amps as Mr Sandman plays over the PA, turning into the Halloween theme when the band enters the stage.

From the first note we are treated to a meticulously selected set list from their near 30 year catalogue.

Who ever decided on opening with Loco into Fiend into Big Truck obviously knows what fans want. Each track going harder, louder and more energetic.

We were last treated to fresh Coal Chamber in 2015, the stand out track being IOU Nothing which goes down very well with the crowd mostly here for the early 00s hits.

Dez Fafara proved yet again that he is a in a class of his own, he commands the stage while connecting with the crowd often.

The energy remains strong throughout their set, packed to the brim with hits such as Rowboat, Dark Days and Something Told Me. Drummer Mikey propped up moving like a wind up animal, is difficult to take your eyes off.

The energy reached its peak as Dez asks the crowd to sing along, ‘the roof, the roof, the roof is on fire’ with him. Beckoning in the staple Coal Chamber hit, Sway.

Luckily tonight we had an hour set from Coal Chamber, treated to 14 songs. This paring proved to be perfect, as the nostalgic moments have only begun.

The half an hour between sets, much shorter than anticipated as every turn had an old friend saying hello, still in disbelief that this tour is a reality.

We weren’t sure if Mudvayne would ever reunite, little alone tour Australia, and with Coal Chamber!

Mudvayne come running out of the gate right on 9.30 opening their time with Not Falling. As vocalist Chad Gray kicks things off with his iconic scream, bass player Ryan Martinie takes a tumble. We hope he wasn’t injured! It does not stop him from giving 100% for the rest of the show.

If you asked most Mudvayne fan their seminal album, you’ll more than likely get the answer of 2001’s LD50. It was an incredibly important album of its time and influentials and plethora of bands.

For the next few songs, fans of LD50 were beyond ecstatic with Internal Primates Forever, -1, Severed and Death Blooms were all met with monstrous screams.

Mudvayne have been this reviewers favourite band for more than half her life, hearing these songs tonight is truly special and hearing ones almost 25 years old is a treat!

Chad takes centre stage and asks the crowd to light up the venue for World so Cold. A beautiful song, despite his demonic stage make up! A few tears were shed by myself and those around me during this song.

The New Game was a favourite amongst fans as it was the first Mudvayne album released after the formation of HellYeah, in which both Chad and Greg were part of.

Title track, Fish out of Water and Dull Boy had many singing along although the energy in the room sky rocketed from the first note of Under My Skin from LD50, as we all jump to the sky like we are 18 again.

A glaringly obvious favourite for many came in the form of Nothing to Gein, an iconic track from Mudvaynes history detailing some horrific moments of serial killer Ed Gein.

Towards the end of the song, Chad crouches down at the front of the stage on his riser with minimal music as he shakes, rocks and screams ‘soiled dirty boy’ over and over before the band join back in louder again until Chad is screaming at the top of his lungs and drummer Matt McDonough couldn’t possibly hit those skins any harder. The emotion portrayed by Chad Gray on stage is unlike any other artist. He leaves every last ounce on stage, and gives his heavy metal family all he can.

Mudvayne are no longer the band to make their crowd wait for encores, there are only two more questions left for the evening.

The first, ‘are you happy?’ To summon in the chart topper Happy? from 2005’s Lost and Found. Many friends throw their arms around one another as they sing the chorus loud! Guitarist Greg Tribbett looms over with his red and black spiked hair and matching make up, remaining still, staring into the crowd although with black goggles you can’t quite make out where he is looking. This may make it even scarier!!

The final track can only be one, and this is where the second and final question remains. Chad waltzes over to the right side of the venue and asks the crowd if they can dig it, doing the same to the left before asking everyone ‘can you dig it’?

My smile reaches my ears (or so it feels) hearing the crowd sing Dig as loud as they possibly can until the final note.

Although it is abundantly clear the show is over, it doesn’t stop the ‘one more song’ or ‘10 more songs’ chants at different points of the venue, all joining into one.

As an avid music fan we all have a few stand out concerts in your life time, tonight will go down as a moment I’ll never forget. Coal Chamber were the perfect addition to this tour and made many happy tonight, with their powerful performance and astounding set list.

Though the headliners left their mark on each person in attendance tonight. Mudvayne have not toured here since 2006, tonight had been a long time coming. All in attendance made sure to embrace every moment and even selling out the merch table! Monitor and sound issues may have dampened a few moments but the band members never let that get in their way of delivering a spellbinding performances

This may very well be the last time we ever see Mudvayne in Australia, and as the only country outside of North America who has seen this reunited Mudvayne for that we are truly lucky.

Thank you to the team at Phoenix for making this tour a reality, I thought it would remain in my dreams.

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[Review] Taylor Swift @ Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne 16/02/2024

Review By Tess

Hello, my name is Taylor, and I will be your hostess for this evening’s Era concert.” What an understatement; there are concerts, and then there are Taylor Swift concerts.

When Taylor Swift’s Eras Australian tour was announced last June, it created a buzz on social media and among fan communities. Fans eagerly marked their calendars and set reminders for when tickets would go on sale. They then began planning their outfits, choosing themes that matched their favorite Taylor Swift era. This frenzy, reminiscent of Beatlemania, is fueled by a combination of excitement, nostalgia, and the thrill of witnessing Taylor’s storytelling in person.

Strolling through the Treasury Gardens on our way to the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground, we found ourselves amidst a sea of cowboy hats, sequins, and friendship bracelets, with white boots in abundance. It appeared that when it came to glitter and sparkle, the more, the merrier.

Tonight, is the largest crowd she has ever played to, with attendance ticking over at 96,000 people. The atmosphere inside the MCG was electric as the clock face appeared with a timer, letting us know the arrival of Miss Swift was imminent. The Swifties’ excitement was intense, filling the air with a buzz that was almost overwhelming. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… The roar of the crowd created a wall of sound that, I am sure, shook the very foundation of the mighty G. It was inside this wall that the outside world fades away, leaving nothing but the shared experience of the music and the storytelling that was about to unfold. It was hard to hear yourself think, but I took the opportunity to look around and take in the faces around me, old and young. I noticed the one element that united them all: sheer joy. There is nowhere else they would rather be than here, in Taylor’s universe, ready to sing, scream, cry, dance, and rejoice to their favorite Taylor tune.

As Taylor takes the stage, the energy shifts to a level I didn’t think was possible. Opening with Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince and Cruel Summer from her Lover Era, the stage exploded into a burst of colors and movement. The crowd echoed her every word; this is what they had been eagerly awaiting. A wave of pure bliss enveloped the stadium. “Well, hi!” The 14-time Grammy Award winner, donning the first of many outfits of the night, a custom Versace bodysuit and Louboutin boots with striking red soles which you catch a glimpse of during The Man. This song also saw a matching blazer being donned. The Lover Era wrapped up with You Need to Calm Down, Lover, and an extended version of The Archer.

Gold fireworks cascade from the top of the backdrop while the screens are filled with what looks like falling embers. It is here we get a proper visual of The Agency (her band) and backing vocalists.  Guitarists Paul Sidoti and Michael Meadows, both who have been with Taylor since Fearless, took a stroll down the catwalk to showcase their skills as if summoning the portal for us all to be transported into the Fearless Era. Taylor appears, with gold-fringed Roberto Cavalli couture mini-dress, she teamed with a pair of shimmering cowboy boots and matching acoustic guitar. Joining her on stage was the rest of The Agency, bassist Amos Heller, guitarist/keyboard Max Bernstein and drummer Matt Billingslea, as we were treated with Fearless, You Belong to Me and crowd favorite Love Story.

With a visual intro of melting ice and forestry, we enter the evermore era. Taylor stands alone in an orange flowing dress with embroidered ruffled bodice – Enchanting. Opening with tis the damn season, as night descends in the forest and seems to bust into flames, she dons a green velvet hooded cloak, as her cloaked coven members join her in a ritual, as if trying to summon her true love during an extended version of willow. Sitting elegantly at a moss covered piano for the first time this evening, she explained the backstory of the conception of the Eras Tour. Taylors ability to connect and work the audience is nothing short of amazing. She weaves her songs into narratives sharing stories and moments that resonate deeply with her fans, making each person feel seen and understood. Her setlist is a clever blend of old hits from Lover to her 2022 album Midnights ensuring every fan, no matter which era they adore, finds a piece of their heart in her performance. Champagne problems rang out as her fingers danced across the keys; she really wanted to experience 96,000 people singing this song, and they did not disappoint. It was about this time my Apple Watch alerted me of being in a loud environment, ha! As almost a thank you to Taylor the crowd raised their voice, Taylor seemed overwhelmed with emotion as tears sprung to her eyes, showing her amazement, and absorbing the love that was being directed her way, loudly, very Loudly…. For nearly 3 mins. The obvious gratitude she has for her fanbase is honest and emotional; if one doesn’t “get” the Taylor-mania, (and a lot don’t), this is where it is. I get it now, and this long-time rock chick had her heart won over. And while I will never be a “Swifty” (are there applications being taken?), I will wear my Eras t-shirt with pride as an avid fan.

The production is nothing short of breathtaking, with dazzling visuals, elaborate modular staging, and quick costume changes that mirror each Era. Next up was one of my favourite parts of the evening as the blackened backscreen revealed a black snake slithering across the screen, fading in and out to the footsteps of determined heels seeming to walk our way. Are you ready for it…? HECK YEAH! I was ready for it. Taylor appeared in a Roberto Cavalli one-legged jumpsuit. The black material glittering with a three-dimensional embroidered ruby red snake, winding from the bottom of her leg to the top of her neck. Sidenote: I was excited to see, Paul Sidoti wielding a EVH Kramer, hats off to you sir!! Delicate, Don’t Blame Me and the ever-popular Look What You Made Me Do round out this rock pop era of Taylors expansive career.

Without a chance to catch my breath the MCG was bathed in purple. Light up bracelets we were all given glowed purple, alternating throughout the stands creating a sparkling effect. But it is not just the spectacle that captivated, it is the raw and genuine and unrelenting energy that Taylor brings to the solid 3 and half hour concert. Dipping into her passion for story telling through music transforms the concert into what feels like an intimate gathering, despite the grand scale. Each song, from the anthemic to the acoustic, is delivered with such sincerity that it’s impossible not to be moved. A short visit to the Speak Now Era, performing just 2 songs, Enchanted and Long Live in a beautiful lilac ballgown, which thanks to its crystal-embellished skirt captured the light beautifully.

As Taylor transitions into the Red Era, starting with the spirited anthem 22, the stage lights up primarily in red, reflecting the song’s lively energy. In what has become as no surprise to diehard fans but was certainly a surprise for young Swiftie, Milana Bruno. To the delight of die-hard fans and the surprise of young Swiftie, Milana Bruno, one fan at each show is chosen to receive the hat worn by Miss Taylor herself. Milana won everyone’s hearts as she beamed, holding back tears while Taylor approached her at the end of the catwalk to place the signed, coveted ’22’ hat on her young fan’s head, and gave her a big hug after Milano gave Miss Swift a friendship bracelet.  Core memory activated.

Shedding her white t-shirt, which incidentally read “a lot going on right now” — the opposite of her Instagram post during the pandemic, which said “not a lot going on right now” — she revealed a red sequined bodice and black sequined shorts. Miss Swift and her posse of very talented dancers broke into We Are Never Getting Back Together. In what seemed to be an affectionate nod to a popular Australian idiom, she turned the mic to one of her talented dancers during the bridge:

Ugh, so he calls me up and he’s like, ‘I still love you,’

And I’m like, ‘I just, I mean, this is exhausting, you know?

Like, we are never getting back together, ……… and Kameron Saunders pulled off ‘YEAAAH, NAAAAHHH’ perfectly.” On ya, Kman, I LOVE IT!

After a lively but shortened version of I Knew You Were Trouble, Miss Swift now back on guitar gave us a gorgeous 10 min rendition of All Too Well. I am completely astounded by her dedication to her craft, she has now been going solidly for just shy of 2 hours.

Just when you think you can sit for a minute, Taylors voice rings out across the darkness. A spoken poem, lyrics taken from Wildest Dreams and Seven, setting the tone for what’s to come. The Folklore cabin appeared on stage, creating an intimate and enchanting atmosphere that transported the audience into the heart of the Folklore album. The production’s ability to transport you into another world is truly astounding.

Taylor, perched on the cabin’s roof in a stunning green chiffon gown by Alberta Ferretti, with a deep neckline and flowing sleeves adorned with embroidered leaf detailing, sings a beautiful rendition of The 1. This gown, perfectly complementing the Folklore theme, enhances the magical setting. The mood shifts as Taylor, with her guitar, introduces betty and provides context, delving into the song’s narrative of youthful regret and redemption, bringing the story to life with a vividness unique to Taylor.  This was the longest era, rounding out at 8 songs including last great american dynasty (about the socialite Rebekah Harkness who previously owned Taylors Rhode Island mansion), august (summer love that was never meant to last), and illicit affairs (complexity and secrecy of forbidden love)

my tears ricochet was a hauntingly beautiful performance. Easily one of the saddest songs of the 17-song album. A song about betrayal, an end of a relationship and the aftermath of a deep personal conflict. The lyrics And if I’m dead to you, why are you at the wake? echo through the air and hit home on a personal level. Is this what it feels like? Taylors voice coupled with the atmosphere and the staging is truly immersive and a testament to her ability to connect with her audience through her music and storytelling.

The Folklore Era concludes with cardigan, a popular song that feels like a warm embrace amidst the cold, forested world of Folklore. It’s a tender reminder of love’s enduring presence, closing this segment like a journey through a forgotten forest of stories and shadows.

However, the enchantment of Folklore is quickly replaced by a vibrant pop explosion as we transition to the 1989 era with Style. Taylor appears with her dancers from underneath the stage and treating delighted fans to the ultimate party look – an orange shimmering two-piece by Roberto Cavalli. Blank Space, and the super fun Shake It Off, made sure we were well and truly out of the whimsy of folklore and ready to party Taylor style. Taylors energy is infectious, inviting everyone present to be a little more self-accepting, learn to laugh at yourself and letting yourself just dance. One of my favorites rounded up this fun era. Bad Blood, with a beat that demands attention and lyrics about betrayal and conflict, its all brought to life on stage with a passion that matches it perfectly. Intense lighting, visuals and choreography adds to the intensity that is slowly building, and as Taylor belts out the final chorus, pyro canons erupt bringing a literal explosive ending to the 1989 era.

At the 2 and ¾ hour mark, I find myself wondering, how does Taylor Swift do this? And to think, she’s doing it again for two more nights in Melbourne! The excited whispers around me gain momentum, with hushed conversations about “surprise songs.” It seems Taylor Swift includes a couple of surprise songs in every performance, and they’re always different. What’s in store for us tonight? Earlier, there was talk of her new album dropping… No, surely not. But as Taylor makes her way down the catwalk in a yellow ruffled dress, looking as fresh as when she started, we’re about to find out. She picks up her guitar and welcomes us to the acoustic section. The crowd inhales deeply, collectively holding their breath in anticipation. “Loving him is like…” That’s all they needed to hear, and for a moment, that’s all I could hear, confirming the gift of Taylor’s version of Red.

Taylor takes her place at a flowery piano to make a surprise announcement “I think more than any of albums that I’ve ever made. I needed to make it. It was really a lifeline for me. Just the things I was going through and the things I was writing about. It kind of reminded me of why songwriting was something that actually gets me through my life.”, and it was with this that she unveiled the new alternate album cover of The Tortured Poets Department, due out April 19. It’s on this new album she announced that there is an exclusive song called The Bolter. Thinking she was about to show us this new song, I started wondering why the Swifties seems to know it already?! And swiftly (pun intended) realised it was in fact a debut live rendition of a fan favourite, You’re Losing Me. Although some were singing every word back at Taylor, many were quiet, hanging onto every word, as Taylor poured her heart into the keys, generating a sense of shared heartache and nostalgia.

Interacting with the crowd and posing for photos, the sounds of water wash over the venue, and the catwalk transforms into a pool. Taylor surveys her fans before “diving in” and swimming back to the stage, leading us into the to our final destination for the evening, The Midnights Era. Donning yet another sparkly purple dress with a matching faux fur crystal dripping jacket. Lavender Haze, and the ever-popular Anti-Hero kick off the section and I started to feel the tug of disappointment as the end was heading towards us like a freight train. Using the ever-evolving modular stage to her advantage, Midnight Rain showed the final costume change, a beautiful beaded fringed midnight-blue leotard designed by Oscar de la Renta, paired with matching glittery boots and garter to top the ensemble. Taylor delivered with unwavering emotion before seamlessly transitioning into the darker and more dramatic, Vigilante Shit. Edgy lyrics and bass heavy beats that showcases empowerment, revenge and taking control of one’s narrative. The production was very noir-esque, stark moody lighting and minimal yet effective visuals that match the songs’ theme perfectly. Taylor oozed confidence and ferocity, making each lyric a strike and a swipe at those who have ever wronged her. Bejeweled and Mastermind lead us by the hand to the finale, and we went although unwillingly, not wanting to end. Karma was simply put, a high-energy visual spectacle, infectious rhythms and an atmosphere of pure celebration. Taylor gave as much energy as she had 3 and ½ hours ago. She took a moment while extending the outro to ask everyone in the audience to thank everyone on stage performing with her. There were fireworks above the stage and stadium, confetti aplenty, there was not one person sitting there was happiness everywhere. Taylor, the last to leave the stage, took a final wave and a bow and disappeared into the stage.

The crowd, including myself is left feeling exhilarated. The collective feeling in the crowd exiting the MCG is one of connection and appreciation. For the uninitiated Swifties, like myself, the energy, the storytelling, the vision – it all boils down to a revitalised and enhanced respect for Taylor Swift – not just as a pop star, but as a songwriter, a storyteller and a performer. Taylor invites us to find a piece of our story within hers, creating a lasting bond that transcends even the mighty Melbourne Cricket Ground.

For anyone who has even questioned, or doubted the magic of Taylor Swift, the Eras concert is a compelling and immersive argument that can transform scepticism into admiration. I personally have been to my fair share of concerts, and this, ladies and gentlemen, was no concert; it is a journey through the career of one of the most influential and successful artists of our time. I get it now; I do feel that deep down, I do get the phenomenon that is Taylor Swift.

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[Review] Klash of the Titans @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 14/02/2024

Picture a legion of heavy metal enthusiasts converging upon our Forum, each adorned in the battle armour of their favourite bands. The air spewing with anticipation as they assemble, a sea of black shirts emblazoned with all the metal bands you could think of and their logos. Some shirts are worn with the pride of a veteran, faded and worn from countless gigs, while others are brand new, freshly acquired for this sacred occasion. Me in my Killers Tee, charged and ready to go.

Opening with an electrifying surge of energy, In Flames and Kreator brought an unforgettable night of metal mastery to an eager Forum packed crowd, awaiting the eruption of metal madness to consume them in a frenzy of sonic ecstasy on a steamy Valentine’s day. With a blend of melodic finesse and raw aggression, these two iconic bands left the audience in awe with their relentless performance.

In Flames, known for their innovative fusion of melodic death metal and modern metalcore, took the stage with an explosive presence. From the moment the first riff resonated through the venue, it was evident that this was going to be a night. A night due to how cranked the bass mix was that my wobbly bits were going to wobble. Lead vocalist Anders Fridén commanded the stage with ferocious intensity, his vocals soaring over the intricate guitar melodies and thunderous drumming. Tracks like Deliver Us and The Quiet Place captivated the crowd with a frenzy of screaming guitars and a sea of fans screaming into the night.

As the stage was bathed in an eerie red glow, Kreator emerged with a sonic assault that was nothing short of relentless. With their blistering thrash metal sound, the German titans delivered a performance that commanded your attention. Frontman Mille Petrozza’s guttural vocals cut through the air like a razor, while the precision of Sami Yli-Sirniö’s guitar solos left jaws dropping in amazement. From tracks like Hate Uber Alles to tracks like Enemy of God, Kreator’s set was a masterclass in thrash metal excellence.

In Flames and Kreator proved once again why they are two of the most revered bands in the metal scene. With their unparalleled musicianship, commanding stage presence, and unwavering dedication to their craft, they delivered a performance that will be remembered for years to come. As the final notes faded into the night, it was awesome to be amidst the sea of raised devil horns, there’s a sense of camaraderie, a shared bond forged through a mutual love for the music. Strangers become friends in the pit, united by the primal energy coursing through the air.

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[Review] Charley Crockett @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 13/02/2024

Tuesday saw just another classic Summer day in Melbourne – 37 degrees, damaging storms, torrential rain, flooding, gale force winds, power outages, all the usual stuff – however none of this deterred a bunch of keen music lovers who ventured out to see the talented Charley Crockett. The Texan country singer has been touring Australia with his band for the past few weeks, with his final show set for Perth on 14th February. 

Knowing very little about him and only a couple of his songs, I was interested to see the demographic of his fan base. Based on my last hectic country music experience at the Forum, I was well prepared for what potentially may lay ahead for me. If you’ve been reading my previous reviews then you’ll know I love people watching, especially at gigs. The fans that rolled out to this gig were a lot more sedate than my previous experience, and proved a solid point that you can’t always stereotype the fans a musician or band may attract. Given the thick, traditional country sound to his music, I was surprised to find only a handful of Stetson hats wandering through the crowd and a limited amount of plaid shirts and cowboy boots adorning the punters. From the ages of early 20’s to late 80’s and everything in between, it really was the ultimate mixed bag of people. 

As I settled into position in the historically beautiful Forum theatre, I managed to catch the last few songs of the first support act, Sweet Talk. The local Melbourne 6 piece outfit have got a damn fine sound, and I was disappointed I didn’t get to catch their full set(Thanks public transport delays). Country, soul, blues, with slight funk undertones and hint of honky tonk, these guys have got a dash of everything in their music, and lead singer Tane Walker’s voice has got an awesome soul quality to it. This is a band I’ll definitely be looking out for in the future – I need more of them in my life! 

Next up were Sydney country band Caitlin Harnett & the Pony Boys. With their solid country sound and Caitlin’s distinct soaring vocals, they proved to be a big hit with the crowd despite Caitlin joking at times “You don’t even know who we are”. Their recently released album All Night Long is sure to be a hit with fans old and new, and the song Sidelines – which Caitlin wrote for her sister- is definitely a stand-out track. 

There was an excited buzz travelling throughout the audience now, and I could tell everyone was gearing up for the main event. Well our appetites were about to be fed, as Charley’s band entered stage left followed by the man himself, decked out in his crisp Ten Gallon hat and acoustic guitar strapped firmly to his front. They opened the show with $10 Cowboy, and the crowd were absolutely thrilled! 

Charley then greeted us with a “good evening Melbourne”, which was met with a rowdy applause. Bass player Colin Colby then switched out his electric bass for a classic upright double bass which gave the next track, Black Sedan, a really deep and rich sound. 

Just Like Honey and Lies and Regret followed which the crowd really got into, and the latter was a real toe tappin’ boot scootin’ affair. Charley was flying through the songs back to back with minimal audience interaction in between, and amongst those were some James ‘Slim’ Hand covers including In The Corner. Into the mix he also threw in Hard Luck & Circumstances, Odessa and Look What You Done To Me, which had slight hints of New Orleans Jazz vibes with it’s arrangement. 

It was then we went to Welcome Hard Times, before it sounded like we were headed into a Mexican stand-off when the moody intro to The Man From Waco rang out and had the crowd singing along to the chorus. After a few more songs, including a Jerry Reed cover of I Feel For You, Charley then thanked and praised his wonderfully talented band and said that “they make a $10 cowboy look pretty good”. He then said he had to ask us something, and asked if we were having a good time? This was met with deafening cheers and applause, in which Charley then summoned a big Hallelujah from everyone in the room. 

It was then into another cover, this time Tom T. Hall’s That’s How I Got to Memphis, before we got down with the funky blues tune Travelin’ Blues. Charley then picked up his banjo for the first time that night and proceeded to play the bluegrass sounding track Darlin’ Six Months Ain’t Long, promptly followed up with Lily My Dear. Trinity River was a hit with the crowd, and once again this track with its upbeat jazz feel makes you feel like you’re marching down Bourbon Street in New Orleans in a Second Line Parade. 

It really amazes me how a song can make you feel an experience that you’ve never encountered before, and during Run Horse Run I truly felt like a cowboy in the Wild West riding in the saddle of my faithful steed. After finishing the ode to his home state Goin’ Back to Texas, he cheekily told us that because this was his second Melbourne show he was twice as good as he was the night before, money back guaranteed. His set then drew to a close with Midnight Run and a huge and thunderous applause from the crowd who were hungry for more. When I say the crowd were hungry, they were bloody starving for more once Charley had departed the stage. The cheering and stomping from the audience would’ve put the hyena stampede from The Lion King to shame, and the sound was deafening as the crowd were trying to summon him back to the stage for an encore. There was a long delay where it looked as if that was it and a few concert goers started to disperse, but their ravenous calls were met with Charley reappearing with his acoustic guitar and singing a solo version of Lonesome As a Shadow. It was then one last song with the full band before the night drew to a close and a lot of happy souls were left to venture out into the night for their journey home. 

Charley’s voice is a deep, smooth salve for the soul and at times reminds me a lot of the late great Johnny Cash. I am far from a country music aficionado by any means, however I feel his style of country music is a lot different to what you hear commercially released these days. His old school country sound pulls from influences like Hank Williams and George Jones, and made me feel like I was back in the 1950’s sitting in some little honky tonk bar in the depths of the Deep South. Charley is certainly a talented performer, not just vocally, but musically and with his cute little dance moves and dashing cowboy looks, he really is the whole country meal deal. I really enjoyed my night with Charley, and can now officially call myself a fan! 

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