When confronted with a lineup featuring Incubus and Live, I definitely thought that Incubus would have the bigger Australian fan base, having been regular visitors to our shores over the last 15 years or so (this is my 4th go round with Incubus).  So I was surprised to see Incubus coming on first and having the slightly shorter set of the two.  There is a lot to be said for a dual headlining show – all thriller, no filler and I was excited to be seeing 2 excellent bands on the one bill.

Incubus appeared just a couple of minutes after the prescribed time and there was no mistaking when charismatic frontman/heart throb Brandon Boyd took the stage as the cheer was a loud one.  Sporting long hair these days and a seriously dodgy 70’s porn star mustache which should be shaved off immediately, he nonetheless cuts a fine figure at the front of the stage.  The VIP setup for this gig was a strange one.  On each side of the stage was a little fenced off area where 20 or so excited die-hards stood awkwardly waiting for the show to start – well I guess you can’t get much closer than that for your money. 

After a short instrumental introduction, the familiar scratchy scratchy intro to Nice to Know You began with Brandon adding his breathy beat box over the top.  I love this song and from the enthusiastic singing of the assembled, I am not alone – Goodbye, nice to know you.  Following along on the all thriller, no filler theme, next up was the incomprehensible Anna Molly.  I swear I have only just discovered as I write this, that this was the song title.  For years, I thought it was Indubitably.  En-unc-iat-ion, please.

Sick Sad Little World was next featuring a long instrumental interlude which gave Brandon a chance to shake his skinny booty and brought Chris Kilmore out from behind his decks to spin what must be 30+ years of dreads in a circle headbang.   Speaking of Circles, this song from the wonderful Morning View album of 2002 was up next and gave new girl, bassist Nicole Row a chance to show her chops.

Is it my imagination or did it suddenly get very hot in here?  To the strains of The Beatles’ Come Together, Brandon shed his t-shirt and I had to remind myself that I was here for the music.  Come Together was not the only cover of this set.  Are You In morphed midway and seamlessly into Riders on the Storm from the Doors, and back again without skipping a beat.  They also did a short, sexy cover of Glory Box by Portishead, and one of my faves, Let’s Dance by David Bowie.

After a hit packed, but all too short set, Incubus finished on a definite high with the singalong favourite – Drive.  This brought Brandon and guitarist Mike Einziger down to the front of the stage for an acoustic intro.  The audience singing could be heard clearly over the music – Would you choose water over wine, hold the wheel and drive.  It was a given that the set would end with Wish You Were Here.

I Googled Live yesterday and a live version of all the music my husband and I watch on Youtube on a Saturday night over the pool table came up, but no Live the band.  I had to delve way deeper down the Google wormhole to find Live the band.  Probably a poor choice of a band name in this digital age but as they have been going in one form or another since the early 80’s when the world wide web was just a concept in an English computer lab, you can’t blame them. 

My experience with Live begins and ends with the hits.  I love me some post grunge, alternative rock (as Wikipedia describes their style) but some Live songs skirt just a wee bit close to country for my liking.  And tonight, Ed Kowalczyk explained why that is.  Hailing from York, a town in Southern Pennsylvania, an area that is known as Pennsyltucky as it shares a border with West Virginia and there to the Southern states of Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama and explains why “I talk funny” says Ed.  And yes, there is a definite southern twang in his voice.  “I hope all y’all are having a good time.” 

If anything, the floor of MCA is more tightly packed for Live than it was for Incubus.  Their set started with the radio friendly Hold Me Up, followed by the very recognizable All Over You which brought a massive singalong from the packed house which continued for Selling the Drama whose lyrics read like a passage from the bible.  Although not known as a Christian band, Christian themes seem to appear regularly in Ed’s lyrics. 

The Dolphin’s Cry was up next and has there ever been a more melodramatic song title in all of rock?!  I think not.  The mullet in a flanny sitting in front of me was in raptures and much fist pumping and finger pointing accompanied this song. 

The next song Ed says was a new one, Leave the Radio On.  It began innocently enough but after a few bars, I heard a sound that made my heart drop and my jaw clench – slide guitar.  You’ve just crossed the line.  The hits of Live with a grungy feel had always made me think that Ed Kowalczyk was more Billy Corgan than Billy Ray Cyrus but I may have been mistaken. 

The main set finished with the wonderful Lakini’s Juice.  A constant on the Triple M playlist and a masterpiece of post grunge angst.  Ed was winning me back and the 2 song encore featuring I Alone and Lightning Crashes had the mullet in a flanny, AND me leaving MCA with a smile on our faces (not together….EEEEWWW).

So my takeaways from this gig is that co-headlining tours are awesome.  Great value for money (and let’s face it, concert tickets in Australia are getting RIDICULOUSLY expensive) and shorter sets are guaranteed to be packed to the gunnels with hits and the songs the fans want to hear.  Promoters of Aus – More Please!