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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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[Review] Wednesday 13 plays Murderdolls, Max Watts, Melbourne 04/02/2024

Melbourne had delivered us our first scorcher of summer, the heat radiating from every building and footpath as I made my way to Max Watts Melbourne. The lines were in full force, the colours predominantly red and black, classic Gothic attire reigned supreme. The punters had been on the countdown to Wednesday 13 playing Murderdolls and of course in true Melbourne style it was a sold-out show. Paying tribute to former members Joey Jordison and Ben Graves, touring this show in their honour.

The merch line was at least 50 deep, stretching way back to the stage, everyone keen to nab a memento. So I took the chance to find some air conditioning in a prime position for the night ahead. Death of Art was our opener, and they got the fans well and truly warmed up. With a quickfire set of 30 minutes their dark electronic rock won over the floor. Singer Erin Blackie peppering each song with accessories including a neon whip, ropes, and even donning horns for the final song. Their Gothic costumes and feel suited the night and they were well received by the expanding crowd. If goth is your thing go check them out, you will be glad you did.

The stage was flooded with red and the Wednesday 13 banner firmly in place, it was as if Max Watts had grown its own pulse, the atmosphere was electric. The roar almost deafening as the lights dropped and the red runway lights flashed up and down the roof signalling the craziness was about to take flight.

With the force of 1000 cannons Wednesday 13 blasted onto the stage, an assault on every sense all at once, my adrenaline was instantly racing as Chapel of Blood rang out. It was all fishnet and leather and of course a bit of make-up here and there to complete the look, Wednesday 13 looking the epitome of cool as his gothic persona came to the forefront. Death Valley Superstars had the fans rabid, pulsing as one unit, the excitement at seeing Murderdolls brought to life in front of their eyes more than some could take. Wednesday worked the stage and the fans with vigour only coming up for breath on the briefest of occasion, 197666 took things up another notch and we were only three songs deep.

I knew it was going to be huge but the enormity of this show was only just hitting as Slit My Wrists and Love At First Fright whacked us in the face. Guitarist Roman Surman graced my side of the stage, and holy shit can he shred the shit our of his guitar! He was a pleasure to watch as he enveloped each and every song with every fibre of his being, so invested and so damn cool. She Was A Teenage Zombie, Die My Bride, Blood Stained Valentine, the songs kept coming as Wednesday and his cohorts smashed us from pillar to post, fists pumping on autopilot, clapping on command and the frenzied flipping of birds. This show had an energy force I have not felt at a gig for a long time, it was evident from the get-go the punters have been waiting for this one for a long long time. We came ready to rock and rock we did, as Pieces Of You, and Drug Me To Hell had the sweat dripping. Wednesday on his knees taking advantage of his strategically placed fan as Max Watts became a veritable melting pot, glasses of water hungrily grabbed as quick as the security could pass them out.

As the band left the stage it was time to be educated in the art of drumming as Mike Dupke took charge of the skins and showcased what was one of the finest drum solos I have witnessed. His sticks becoming an extension of his body as he entered beast mode for the duration. Flooded with red light as he played to whoops and cheers, leaving Max Watts in awe of his precision behind the kit. The song list kept coming but Nowhere was when things became emotional, it was dedicated to Joey and chants instantly erupted in his honour, Wednesday looking sky bound with pause for the loss of his dear friend. But this was not a time for sadness it was a time to celebrate Joey and his music so that is what we did. Summertime Suicide set the joint alight, our voices now as raspy as the man himself as we sang ourselves hoarse.  I must also give mention to guitarist Jack Tankersley, what an absolute legend, not only is he an A class musician but so engaging every time he visited my side of the stage. This band is a well-oiled machine and tight as fuck! Wednesday had us under his command from the minute he walked on stage, we were his congregation, he was our preacher, and we were all schooled in Murderdolls by the master himself.

With a quick detour off stage it was not long before the chants of ‘Wednesday’ began and we were rewarded with a return of the band. Wednesday sporting his trademark ‘encore’ hat and red leather jacket, offering us 1-3 songs depending on how loud we were, needless to say the roof was well and truly raised and 3 songs it was. Opening the final trifecta with the mind-blowing cover of Billy Idol’s White Wedding, Troy Doebbler was slapping his bass to within an inch of his life, this guy is a four-string assassin, and the hidden weapon of the band. With his ‘Fuck You’ Umbrella in hand Wednesday had us priming our middle fingers as I Love To Say Fuck blew our hair back and the war cry ‘fuck’ was thrown around with delight. The only way to finish out this mind-bending night was of course with Dead In Hollywood, everyone just hanging on by a thread but still bouncing not willing to relent for one minute. With thanks and waves goodbye it was over and the sore and spent bodies dragged themselves to the water jugs and made the hot sweaty pilgrimage back to the real world.

Joey and Ben would have smiles as wide as the stage after witnessing the show of a lifetime in Melbourne, Australia. If there was a place to forget the outside world existed it was Max Watts last night, thank you to Wednesday 13 for bringing us Murderdolls revisited, you came, you saw and you kicked out mother fucking arses!!

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[Review] The Darkness, Festival Hall Melbourne 03/02/2024

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of their debut album Permission to Land sees The Darkness back on Australian soil for an impressive string of dates. With singer Justin Hawkins going down with illness just before their arrival we have all been waiting with bated breath, but never fear The Darkness are here and ready to rock. They are no strangers to Australia being greedily lapped up with every visit, now it was my turn to see what all the fuss is about.

The iconic Melbourne stalwart Festival Hall is back up and running after a dubious period in no mans land, and I for one was glad to get back down to Dudley Street and rock out where so many music legends have graced the stage. The openers were plentiful giving punters great value for money, as Melbourne’s Cry Club and Brisbane’s DZ Deathrays got the party started. It was then up to Sydney lunatics You Am I to give the final warm up session. Treating us to a Spinal Tap set that opened up a world of nostalgic memories from the quintessential piece of fictional history. Tim Rogers was the perfect fit to pull off the The Majesty of Tap, he enveloped the role to perfection along with the perfect accompaniment in You Am I. Their musicianship and theatrics were the key to this set going next level, add to this Tim wearing silver flares and a black hooded cape it really set the tone. Stonehenge was delivered with faux stone appearing from the roof, keeping with the theme of the movie, it certainly enveloped the mocumentary with gusto. Hell Hole was another welcome additional and had the crowd up and about as Tim said “Open you cheeks to the sight and smell of the Tap!” as only he could. A wonderful addition to the show and a perfect fit for The Darkness.

The atmosphere was electric to say the least, green lights resembling a landing strip flashing down each side of the stage as The Darkness took full flight to an erupting Festival Hall. This show was their biggest in Australia to date and Melbourne music fans turned out in droves to witness this most prestigious celebration. Justin donning a red and black jumpsuit in his trademark fashion as they jumped into Black Shuck to get the party started. Working through the album in no particular order the fans were 100 per cent committed to making the show one for the memory banks with phones put away and everyone living in the moment. It felt like stepping back in time just people going nuts, hands in the air, clapping on command, dancing, singing and have a bloody awesome night.  Get Your Hands Of My Woman, Growing On Me, Givin’ Up were all slotted in as they worked through this cracker of an album. The punters singing the ‘oh, oh’s’ and ‘Givin Up, Givin Up Givin a Fuck’ with unabashed enthusiasm. Justin had now stripped the top half of his jumpsuit down saying “I didn’t think it would be this hot up here!”  But we all knew it wasn’t called ‘Festy Hall’ for nothing. Crowd engagement was second to none as Love Is Only A feeling and Stuck In A Rut played out, Rufus Tiger Taylor was smashing the skins to within an inch of their life and kept the set running like clockwork.

Dan Hawkins is really a jack of all trades when it comes to musical instruments, his guitar work is of the highest calibre as he strutted his stuff and worked the stage like a true professional.  Frankie Poullain kept pace with the bass, this four-string slayer did not miss a beat, so at home on the big stage as Friday Night saw the fans ready to sing. A sneaky little snippet of Led Zeps Immigrant Song was a worthy addition as super shredder Justin even noodled the intro of AC/Dc’s Thunderstruck before he launched into I Believe In A Thing Called Love. With Melbourne finally throwing up a summer day, good old Festy Hall started to really feel the heat, living up to its nickname in spades as the sweat drenched punters screamed for the one they had been waiting for. Arms aloft clapping in time it really was a sight to behold, Justin still hitting the high notes with faultless precision of a man many years his junior. With the roof well and truly raised the boys left the stage to cool their jets for five minutes but the Melbourne maniacs were having none of it as they stomped and clapped, and if you have been to Festival Hall before you would know those timber floor do love a good feet hammering. It was no surprise when The Darkness returned that Justin said he could hear the stomping from downstairs. With their outfits changed to bedroom attire, all four sporting silk robes or PJ’s of choice, even guitar tech extraordinaire Ian Norfolk sporting a robe. With Justin having more guitar changes than I have had hot dinners he was certainly kept on his toes, and he did not miss a beat. I can see why they call him the fifth member of the band.  Speaking of the band, Justin went on to do introductions to the tune of In The Air Tonight made famous by Phil Collins, with his brother Dan on the drums, mixing things up a bit. Once again I reiterate, super talented musicians!!

Justin launched into I Love You 5 Times, almost a cappella with the fans singing along until he strapped on his guitar and ramped it up a level or two.  Love On The Rocks With No Ice saw out the show and had the rabid crowd in a right frenzy as Justin took to the shoulders of one of his team and made his way in and around the floor of Festival Hall. All while shredding up a storm and not missing a single note, fans very respectful of him with the odd pat on the back as he made his way from one side to the other. After being delivered back on stage he showcased his skills again playing, jumping and even hopping on one leg as he played like his life depended on it.  Forever the showman and a moment forever etched in our hearts. The Darkness really are the complete package and if are yet to see them do not delay, with just a few shows left on this Australian tour it would be a cardinal sin to miss out.

Celebrating 20 years in the biz is no small feat but here’s hoping there will be many more years in the tank for The Darkness. Gauging on tonight’s performance Melbourne Airport will not just grant permission to land but dedicate a runway in their honour. Thanks for the thrills boys, here’s to seeing you back in Aus real soon!

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InterviewsTour Interview

Interview with Wednesday 13

Press play above to see Cass killer chat with Wednesday 13 recently about the Australian Tour!

WEDNESDAY 13 and his current band – which features former MURDERDOLLS alumni Roman Surman and Jack Tankersley – will be performing a full set of MURDERDOLLS songs, taken from the band’s celebrated 2002 debut album, ‘Beyond The Valley Of The Murderdolls’ and their triumphant 2010 return, ‘Women And Children Last’, which won them the Revolver Golden Gods Comeback Of The Year Award.

Amid a 2002 musical landscape full of baggy pants, backwards caps and tracksuit pants rose a metallic glam punk band that defied the prevailing trends and brought back hard and fast rock ’n roll. Murderdolls dug up the corpse of rock, defiled it and injected pure unadulterated undead life back into it. And it was glorious! 

'Beyond the Valley of the Murderdolls’ and its successor, 'Women and Children Last' were like nothing else. Fast and dirty, raw and macabre. Drawing lyrical inspiration from classic horror, each tracks is full of tongue-in-cheek horror done to perfection. Led by horror-punk icon, Wednesday 13 and the late great Joey Jordison, Murderdolls slithered their way to the top of the horrendous heights of rock amassing a colossal cult-following along the way. 

The sinister, sneering vocals, huge hooks, gang vocal choruses, pounding rhythms and some of the best riffs ever penned, the Murderdolls wrote songs for arenas and played them in theatres, making their adrenaline-fuelled odes to darkness that much more thrilling. 

For the first time in well over a decade, Murderdolls' frontman and songwriter, Wednesday 13, will resurrect his songs from the twisted depths of their dual album discography and unleash an unforgettable set when they descend on Australia, breathing fire into the raucous anthems that have defined an entire subculture. 
 

“After 21 years since its release, and the recent sad and premature passing of Joey, it only feels right to go out and celebrate these songs. We made two amazing albums that I was very proud of, and unfortunately much of the world didn’t get a chance to hear the songs live. In 2018, we all got together at Joey’s house and discussed plans and possibilities for the future, but we both had other immediate plans, We will be performing tracks from both MURDERDOLLS albums on this upcoming tour and celebrating the legacy of the band.” – Wednesday 13
 

TOUR DATES
Friday, Feb 2: The Triffid, Brisbane
Sat, Feb 3: The Metro, Sydney
Sun, Feb 4: Max Watts, Melbourne
Tues, Feb 6: Lion Arts Factory, Adelaide
Wed, Feb 7: Rosemount Hotel, Perth

Tickets on sale Thurs, July 27 @ 9.00am Local Time
ThePhoenix.au

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[Review] Metal Church @ The Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne 14/12/2023

It has been a few years since Metal Church have graced our shores last travelling here in 2019 and quite a few things have changed since then. With the tragic loss of their frontman Mike Howe, which was a massive loss to the music industry and devastating to fans worldwide. After the initial shock Metal Church regrouped and came together with new singer Marc Lopes and a killer new album Congregation of Annihilation in 2023. Fans have welcomed Marc with open arms and embraced the new album excited for the band to be on the road celebrating the new songs and singer. 

It was no surprise to see black t-shirts lined up awaiting entry to The Croxton Bandroom. It has become a stalwart for old school heavy metal gigs and always has a terrific vibe as you are waiting to nab prime position. With lots of excited band banter being had as we counted down to doors, it is always a fun time to reminisce with like minded fans. With a steady stream of people finding their way to the front and beers flowing across the bar opening act Firing Squad started to warm up the crowd. They gave us a quick fire 25 mins of thrash metal, engaging the crowd and getting heads nodding in approval. Some fans wearing their merch and head banging on the barrier with gusto, it was great to see an early turn out and support for them. They had a substantial crowd by the end of their set and one of the guitarists even joined the punters on the floor to shred out the last minute or so.

Next up were thrash five piece Nothing Sacred, a name well known in the scene, these guys have been plugging away for 30 years and their experience showed. They powered through a thirty-minute set delivering some tasty tunes and wicked riffs. Singer Chris Stark has a most powerful set of pipes and I was left in awe just watching. With punters up and about they had a massive audience and the vibes were nothing but positive. Ending the set with Deathwish we were more than warmed up and ready for Metal Church.

The merch desk was kept busy with lots of cool stuff on offer, and things started heating up as the sea of black T-shirts congregated up close to the front. The odd peppering of red or white tops stood out like a sore thumb as the old school rock brigade brought out their finest thrash metal regalia, battle jackets worn with pride and every man and his dog wearing a Metal Church t-shirt.  The demographic was a much older crowd, diehard fans still showing their loyalty to their old thrash favourites.  As the lights dropped a roar rang out as the band took to the stage opening with the blinder Ton of Bricks from The Dark album. It was one of four from the album and was definitely a great way to get the night off and running. Marc Lopes was in fine form belting out the songs with his trademark long screeching on point all night.

Start The Fire did just that as the crowd were up and about, fists punching the air, singing word for word back to Lopes. Kurdt Vanderhoof has shredding up a storm along with Rick Van Zandt, both keeping the big riffs coming all night. Gods of Wrath really got the bandroom pulsing, with a few of the younger attendees on the barrier head banging with fury. The punters chanting back ‘Gods of Wrath’ for the duration. Pick a God and Pray and Congregation of Annihilation followed both off the latest release of the same name. Stet Howland was a machine on the drums, being a part of the band since 2017 he was right at home, providing backing vocals and vicious hitting of skins, on many occasions playing while standing up showcasing his skills. His spanking DW kit was a shining light in the middle of the stage and he used every piece to his advantage, he really was joy to watch.

Burial at Sea, Watch The Children Play and Fake Healer were welcome additions to the setlist and got the crowd up and about. Steve Unger on bass also added backing vocals and looked all parts the rock star in his leather and studs. He had the bass line covered and worked the stage with the ease of a true professional. Badlands is a loved Metal Church song from the album Blessing In Disguise and the punters enjoyed every minute. As the night was coming towards its end you would usually see the odd grogged up wannabe rockstar try and crowd surf over the top, but the seniority of the crowd put that to rest. All in attendance happy to just head bang on the spot and even that was done with reserved spurts to save the chiropractic bill the next day.

Beyond The Black and Metal Church saw out this killer night of thrash metal finery, Lopes digging deep and giving it everything he had.  As he returned with his phone to capture the crowd, arms quickly were held skyward to showcase the love in the room. A quick photo with the crowd and that was it, the show was over with Steve and Rick handing out guitar picks and Lopes pulling up a setlist for one lucky fan. I think many were expecting and encore but at 11pm on a weeknight I was more than happy with the killer performance we had.

Metal Church were so appreciative of their fans with Kurdt taking the time to thank us all for our undying support and I for one would be more that happy to bow down at the altar of Metal Church should they decide to come our way again.

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[Review] Sam Smith @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne 31/10/2023

All Hallows Eve is always a magical night in Melbourne, and tonight sees Sam Smith play night one of two capacity shows of their Gloria World Tour at Rod Laver Arena. The walk to our entertainment precinct along the mighty Yarra river was one peppered with spooky revellers, many dressed to impress on the night where even the most diverse could feel right at home. As I drew closer to Rod Laver the sights became much more impressive, many taking advantage of seeing Sam Smith on Halloween to indulge in their wildest fantasies. Knowing they could safely be who or what they wanted without fear or judgement was so refreshing, the vibe was one of unity and joy and was like a breath of fresh air.

As I joined the rapidly expanding floor Meg Mac was taking to the stage. What a lovely performance to watch, Meg’s voice had so many layers and her music was engaging from start to finish. Her soulful tunes resonated with all, having her sister Hannah on backing vocals and her friend Danielle complete the stella line up. When Meg sang Letter she was solo with just her keyboardist for company, it was a standout track and showcased her stunning voice, a real showstopper! While the set was only 30 minutes she packed in plenty and I will gladly go and see her again in the future.

After a brief break the stage came to life with a stunning giant gold statuette laying across the entire length. The drums and piano elevated behind the mass of gold with a staircase just under the butt to facilitate easy access to all areas of the stage. Glowing devil horns dotted every corner of Rod Laver, the perfect Halloween adornment which set a stunning view from every angle. As the lights went down Rod Laver came to life, the screams of excitement and joy bounced from the roof as Sam Smith made their way across the statue complete with flowing gold cape and corset. Their confidence from the first moment on stage as they strutted was joyous to watch and I could not wait to see what the night delivered. Broken into four sections beginning with Prelude we were taken on a Sam Smith journey through time, Stay With Me, I’m Not The Only One and Like I Can perfect additions to the opening set. Sam adorned in gold from head to feet as were their musicians and backing vocalists.

Part l: Love was up next, and the hits kept coming with Perfect, Diamonds, How Do You Sleep and Dancing With A Stranger which Sam made sure had everyone on their feet dancing. The enjoyment radiating from the fans was overwhelming with glowing fans waving in the air, people swaying with arms aloft, the unity was incredible, and Rod Laver felt awash with inclusion. There was never a doubt of Sam’s love for Australia and the support they have been shown here, they were overwhelmed with affection and quite emotional at times.

Part ll: Beauty Sam appeared in the most spectacular of frocks to which they called ‘How do you like my dress? It’s really fucking heavy’ this was met with peals of laughter as they made their way into I’m Kissing You and Lay Me Down which had phone torches on maximum setting a stunning accompaniment for this beautiful song. It was now that lightness met darkness and the show took on a mind of its own as pulsing lights surrounded the stage and Sam appeared in yet another costume change. Draped in black from head to toe with top hat adorned with silver devil horns, Gimme rang out. The stage awash with sexy dancers which Sam joined and mixed it with the best of them as they strutted all the moves to perfection. Lose You, Promises, I’m Not Here To Make Friends were welcome additions to the setlist, and saw Sam in a luxurious pink layered floor length extravaganza of a jacket. The stage was charged with laser lights flashing in overdrive, the venue was humming with infectious happiness, what a delight it was to witness.  A rainbow of lasers and lighting lit up the stage for the Donna Summer cover of I Feel Love as Sam made his departure and left it to the dancers to see out part ll with their spectacular moves.

Part lll: Sex took Rod Laver to new heights as Sam appeared in a sheer full body covering complete with crown. It covered their face and with their arms held wide it felt like the we were in the church of Gloria and Sam Smith was our preacher. It was about now that the junior members of the night’s congregation needed to cover their eyes as the raunchy metre hit 11.  Sam was unveiled to be wearing not a lot, a black thong and cobweb pasties, fishnets and thigh high black boots pretty much sums it up as they launch into a cover of Madonna’s Human Nature. The stage then turned red with Sam dressed in yet another corset and devil top hat, I was mesmerised as they slid, ground and wove around the stage accompanied by the scintillating dancers. It was sexy, it was saucy, and it was bloody extraordinary. With once last addition to the wardrobe Sam returned with a red flowing robe de chambre and a glittering pitchfork, as the final strains of Unholy rang out.

If there was one place I would have wanted to spend Halloween it was at Rod Laver Arena with the one and only Sam Smith. They brought so much joy to so many people in a loving, united environment and it was absolutely delightful to be a part of it.

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[Review] Punk Rock Factory @ Stay Gold 23/09/2023

A beautiful Melbourne day saw the punters turning out early for a night of wicked punked up covers with UK’s Punk Rock Factory. With the line snaking around to Sydney Road, Melbourne Music haunt Stay Gold was going to be pumping, so I jumped in line quickly to ensure I saw all the nights entertainment. Melbourne five piece Among The Restless opened the proceedings to a rapidly filling room. It was fantastic to see so many people coming early to take in all the bands and enjoy a bevie or two.

Among The Restless are no strangers to Stay Gold and it was evident from the get-go that they felt right at home. Giving us a quick-fire set of five they had heads nodding and people dancing from their opening song Torn. They are an energetic lot, instantly engaging, quicky winning over the crowd as they worked through their set. Lucy seemed to hit the spot as people progressed towards the stage keen to see a bit more of what Among The Restless had to offer. Finishing out with Someone Else their first single from back in 2020, they certainly made some new fans along with the ones I saw singing throughout their time on stage. Definitely one to check for an exciting live performance.

Also based in Melbourne are alt/pop punk group PAPERWEIGHT. Offering a red hot thirty-minute set, they left nothing in the tank as they got sweaty with the swiftly expanding dance floor of punk rock fans. Once again, these guys are regulars at Stay Gold having played their first gig there just a few years ago. With many fans in their own right, they had the room jumping as they ploughed through their set. Scapegoat was one I really enjoyed, PAPERWEIGHT’s refreshing take on pop punk created a terrific vibe in Stay Gold and set the scene for the headliners. Another appealing local band that I would recommend you check out. We are so flush with amazing music here in Melbourne please go out and find some new bands to support.

It has been a long wait to get Punk Rock Factory here to Australia, but we have been patient, knowing the day would finally come. So on this mild September evening with footy finals in the air the hoards still swarmed to get a piece of punk rock action. With almost 10 years under their belts pumping out punk rock covers of our childhood memories along with other favourites PRF have built a huge following. While I am not so ofay with Tik Tok I’m told that’s the place to be for PRF fans. So it was time to see what all they hype was about, hold on to your hats as I take you through a night with UK’s finest, Punk Rock Factory.

Stay Gold was fit to bulging with punk rock lovers, there was multi-coloured mohawks, there was plenty of tartan and leather but there was also a feeling of unity. People finding their tribe for a night, feeling comfortable in their own skin and dropping their inhibitions and losing themselves to the music. Opening with Pokémon to cheers and screams PRF were off and running, Under The Sea and Power Rangers was a ripping trifecta too get the fans warmed up, keen to see what other delights would make an appearance.  Vocalist Peej kept up cheeky banter across the night, the friendship between these guys is apparent from the minute they set foot on stage. Offering up a $200 merch voucher to one lucky fan which quickly had people jumping on their phones to be in with a chance. Mamma Mia had everyone singing in their finest musical voices and You’re Welcome saw guitarist Ryan take to the crowd armed with two mobile phones filming the shenanigans. Of course the sing offs were many and the collective voices were loud and proud trying to claim their side of the room being the loudest.

With so many hits to choose from in their repertoire it was exciting to see what would come next, Thundercat filled that slot followed closely by Can You Feel The Love Tonight. The Farnsy classic You’re The Voice was up next and had everyone in the room raising their vocal range a cog or two, Kob smashing the drumkit to within an inch of its life. SpongeBob Square Pants, Defying Gravity and the Hamilton banger You’ll Be Back had hands waving in their air as they jumped into Running Up That Hill. Benj had the bass covered as We Don’t Talk About Bruno took it up a level, punters singing every word. Let It Go the Frozen classic that took the world by storm was up next, this punked up version was a standout of the night, even the punkest of punks singing with gusto. While the crowd was jammed packed they remained respectful all night, just there to enjoy the music and have a lot of fun. It was really encouraging to see such an eclectic group come together as one after years of missing out on the live music scene.  Many would have been happy to end the night there, but I had a feeling they could pull a few more from their punk covers pot. After a brief exit they retuned with a fitting finisher in Down Under. This certainly got the blood pumping and our patriotic chests puffed out. Add to this the Moana ripper How far I’ll Go and it was a setlist of dreams.  

Their set flew by in what seemed like minutes but after the warm welcome we afforded them we can only hope that Punk Rock Factory will be back Down Under again very soon. Bringing joy to our ears with the songs of our youth, slung with a modern twist made for an exceptional night of fun. I for one will welcome them back with my punk rock arms wide open.

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[Review] Culture Club @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne 09/09/2023

Review By Cassandra Hale

It was a sight fit for a King or a Queen if you are that way inclined, as I made my way to Rod Laver Arena for a night of 80’s inspired tunes.  Many decked out in full Culture Club regalia, some just happy in their own skin, and if that meant hairy legs with high heels, so be it.  If you asked me to describe the devoted fans flocking in my answer would be extravagantly colourful!

Celebrating 47 years as a band, we were honoured to have Berlin opening the nights proceedings. It was a huge bucket list tick for me to see them after having their faces grace my wall as a teenager. From the get-go they were red hot, Terri Nunn looking smashing in a red layered corset arrangement showing she still had the goods. Opening with Masquerade they were off and running, well maybe not running as Terri had ‘done a hami’ when she ventured too deep in the splits at a previous show. But you get my drift, No More Words had me up and about as it was a personal favourite and it seemed I was not alone.  The screens behind the band flashing with pictures and film clips for the duration of the set as the worked their way through Metro and Animal. Another fan favourite was Dancing In Berlin, this saw Terri take to the crowd for a dance, what a wonderful and welcome surprise getting such an up-close experience. Dancing with Terri as she nabs your mobile phone and makes it a ‘live in the moment’ experience for one lucky fan was such a fun element to the set.

Touching on her mother’s passing and the song she wrote about her experience was Transcendance, what a beautiful song and the big screens radiated family photos of her mum over her life. The 2019 album of the same name is a real belter and one I suggest you check out.  It was time for the one every person in Rod Laver was waiting for, made famous by Top Gun back in 1986, Take My Breath Away. Starting with a surreal a cappella intro Berlin literally did take our breath away with this stunning rendition of the mega hit. Terri still hitting the high notes with ease and replicating the classic to perfection, accompanied on vocals by Dave Diamond who was sensational all night.

A ripping cover of their favourite Aussie band AC/DC’s Highway To Hell saw Rod Laver come to life as the punters sang with appreciation. Did they do it justice, a big hell yes, they were rocking it from start to finish, Terri’s big voice never wavering. Sex saw out the set and I was left completely satisfied; I just hope they make the trip down under again, they will be welcomed with open arms.

Calling Australia his second home it was no surprise that we were being spoilt with another live concert by Boy George and Culture Club. The buzz was electric as the lights went down, screaming fans waiting for their first glimpse of their 80’s idols, Rod Laver erupted as they took to the stage.  Looking fabulous in his trademark hat and ensemble of blue, black and white Picasso-ish jacket Boy George wowed us right from the start, add to this Mickey and Roy and you have Culture Club in all their glory. Opening with a cheeky cover of Sympathy For The Devil, and then the iconic It’s A Miracle, it was pure joy for the fans, immediately swept up in memories that are evoked by Culture Club’s amazing music. I’ll Tumble 4 Ya, and Move Away all sublime with some lovely images flooding the screen from film clips and photos from across the years.

Featuring in Culture Club’s last three show was another cover and one that Boy George has certainly put his stamp on, Everything I Own, it had the fans singing along as the coloured lights lit up the arena. Eyeliner Voodoo was a terrific addition, George talking of his early days when he was the only one who wore eyeliner, “and look at you now!”  he chuckled. Then they backed it up with one of Culture Club’s biggest hits, Do You Really Want To Hurt Me.  A song that the boys didn’t want to put out as a single but lucky for them the record label had other ideas and it sent them flying to stardom with number ones all over the world.  

The musicians and backup singers all amazing and with backing vocalist Roxy Yarnold celebrating her birthday Boy George dedicated That’s The Way from the iconic Colour By Numbers to her. They sang in tandem with Roxy hitting all the high notes with gusto, what a talent she is. The band faultless all night bringing endless energy and Boy George had his usual free spirit shining. You could feel the love and devotion so many have for Boy George, a man who has walked the hard road to be accepted so in turn others can feel free to express themselves openly. George’s 1000 kilowatt smile was infectious, he was so happy to be performing with his friends for life Roy and Mikey, with lots of cheeky banter and laughter constantly ringing out.

Letting Things Go, Angel Of Mercy and Melodrama were all well received the later being co written with Vangelis Polydorou who strutted the stage in a cloud of glitter and platform boots all night. Being wrangled by Boy George from the UK version of The Voice he had the pipes of an angel and was a fabulous addition to the band.  It was then time to ramp up the hits with Church Of The Poison Mind which had a delicious mash up of Wham!’s I’m your Man dropped straight in the middle, Time and Miss Me Blind the perfect trifecta to see out the set. We all knew there would be just a few more and waited patiently with a bit of cheering and feet stomping to get George’s attention.

Culture Club return with Boy George now sporting a yellow hat, and polka dot shirt in black and yellow to match, ever the fashionista!  Get It On opened the encore and this was one that Culture Club have refined to suit their sound and is always a welcome addition to the set list.

As Roy took to the keyboard I knew Victims would be next, it is my personal favourite and a song that I hold very close to my heart. I held back tears as Boy George delivered this beautiful song, a definite standout for me. The booming drums were an absolute showstopper, the sound resonating around the arena having a huge impact on all.  Karma Chameleon was the one we were all waiting for, the crowd were singing and dancing not wanting it to end, but they certainly had made enough memories in this one evening to last a lifetime.  

Culture Club really is the gift that keeps on giving, with every tour we get to unwrap another layer. Hopefully they will be back again, it really would be the best present one could ask for.

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[Review] Extreme & Living Colour @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 04/09/2023

Review By Cassandra Hale

It was a cold Monday night in Melbourne as I joined the masses lined up in the on again off again rain. With Extreme last gracing our shores in 2019 the fans were hyped, the wait has been long for a double header of this magnitude and we answered by selling out night one as only the Melbourne fans can do.  So this being the second show but coming first on the Thicker Than Blood tour schedule I was keen to get inside and stake my claim for a night of musical magic.

Living Colour have been strutting their stuff since 1984, but it was my first time seeing them and god damn I was excited. Being a show with two huge acts the Forum was packed early everyone eagerly awaiting the first song of the night. With glasses charged and the floor packed with die hard fans Living Colour burst on to the stage. Opening with a cheeky cover of the famous Rock and Roll by Led Zepplin it was evident they had a huge fan base as the Forum quickly came to life. Singer Corey Glover looked cool as cat shit in his salmon coloured suit and tie finished off with white trainers. His multicoloured dreadlocks and dark shades the perfect addition to complete his look. But looks aside his voice was an absolute showstopper!! Working through Leave it Alone, Middle Man and Funny Vibe the show was off and running at spectacular pace. Guitarist Vernon Reid showed everyone how it was done as he shredded up a storm, his faultless skills not going unnoticed. Living Colour had the fans bobbing as a collective, heads nodding and bodies grooving, it was such a chill vibe and one I loved being a part of.

With their sound covering many genres of music, bass player Doug Wimbish played homage to 50 years of hip hop with a quick-fire medley which included a snippet of The Message which had everyone singing along. Hip Hop aside you could have been lead to believe you were at a full on metal gig as drummer Will Calhoun unleashed on the skins. While he was hard to see, surrounded by a huge array of cymbals you could certainly hear him! Nothing Compares to You was another fabulous cover with Corey once again showing his vocal range then we were treated to hits such as Glamour Boys, Ignorance is Bliss and Times Up.  Of course, there is one song that Living Colour is famous for and if you don’t know it, what rock have you been hiding under! Cult of Personality had the crowd up and about and it also saw Corey take to the crowd for a sing. Finishing it out from the stands of The Forum the punters respectfully watched as he jumped up high and gave everyone further back the up-close experience. He then stayed on to finish out the night with the classic Clash cover Should I Stay Or Should I Go singing from the crowd with gusto. Living Colour left me well impressed, and I would certainly be lining up to see them if they make the journey to Australia again.

The magnificent Forum Theatre had swelled as Extreme fans turned out in force. The wait has been long but it was worth every day of every year to finally have them back in Melbourne. It was a very respectful fan base, all happy for the opportunity to see this awesome foursome live, it was smiles all round as we waited for the lights to drop. The back of the stage covered in the latest album’s mascot a fierce gorilla glowing under red lights that graces the cover of SIX. Taking their places under the cover of darkness Extreme exploded from the shadows in a wash of lights and colour with the massive opener It(‘s a Monster) followed by Decadence Dance. Everyone was losing their minds as #REBEL rang out, totally in awe of what was unfolding before us. With an opening trifecta of that stature it was going to be one hell of a night!

What can I say about Gary Cherone, his energy is effervescent, bouncing from the drum riser to cover every millimetre of the stage with ease. He delivered some very cheeky poses to the photographers and I swear he was a Cirque De Soleil performer in a past life. His fluidity was mind blowing, his stamina undying, he is the quintessential front man that any band would kill to call their own. Oh and let’s not forget, he can really belt out a tune, sounding as good today as he did twenty-five years ago. 

The hits (and there are many) kept flying out, Rest In Peace, Hip Today and Play With Me next on the list, I am still gobsmacked at how Gary delivered Play With Me live, the lyrics lightning quick and yet he does not miss a beat.  Kevin Figueiredo, affectionally known as KFig gave us a sample of his drumming as he moved up close to the fans as a small drum kit magically appeared in front of my eyes.  The punters singing loud, awash with happiness to have all four members up close and personal. Getting yet another song from the new album SIX with OTHER SIDE OF THE RAINBOW which was exquisite followed by the banger Hole Hearted which had everyone singing along.

Cupid’s Dead was amazing and had the crowd rocking out. Then the needle on my fangirl meter flew to red at warp speed as Nuno Bettencourt took to a stool for Midnight Express. His jokes and banter with the crowd were sensational and, in all honesty, I don’t think it was just the girls who were fangirling! The man-love for Nuno was obvious by the crowd that swelled around his microphone, was it for his astonishing guitar skills or his sexy good looks who knows. His shredding skills are exemplary, his guitar an extension of his body, never showy just musical perfection at its finest. Add to this a voice as smooth as honey and Nuno really is the complete package. A second stool appeared for More Than Words, Gary and Nuno not required to sing, we knew all the words and we sang them loud and proud. It was a special moment, driven with emotion and passion by all in attendance.

Now time to talk Pat Badger, as far as bass players go he is the glue holding this tight knit unit together. Pat is the backbone of Extreme, he is an unbelievably talented musician and has stage presence like no other, not to mention his outstanding vocals. He feeds off the crowd and his enjoyment in performing was evident all night. KFig was a joy to watch, his fluidity on the kit was mesmerising at times. He was born to play drums, a king on his throne, such a talented musician and a master of the skin hitting. We were then rocketed into the stratosphere as BANSHEE was unleashed, this song was next level and a testament to the 13 year wait between albums.  Am I Ever Gonna Change and Take Us Alive/That’s All Right were also welcome additions to the setlist.

Flight Of The Wounded Bumblebee saw Nuno’s hands possessed with the spirit of rock and roll, the fans transfixed as he blew as all away with his blistering speed and precision. Then the sensational Get The Funk Out, the punters losing their minds singing with fervour as the night was winding up in huge fashion. I would have been happy to end the night there feeling completely satisfied, but I felt there were a few left in the tank. After the boys left the stage, they were quickly drawn back by chanting and feet stomping to deliver not one but two more from the new album SIX.  SMALL TOWN BEAUTIFUL which merged into Song For Love and the extraordinary RISE. Holy shit the new stuff sounded amazing, and one would think it was part of the setlist for years, so refined and delivered with perfection. The band waved goodbye and slapped hands across the pit as HERES TO THE LOSERS played out over speakers. Just another taste of SIX to see out the night.

The Thicker Than Blood tour was a show of gargantuan proportions I speak for everyone who was there last night when I say get the FUNK back here real soon, we will be waiting with open arms. I of course will be back there Sunday night for the sold-out show to do it all again, see you in the pit boys!!

You can still catch this great show!

AUSTRALIAN TOUR 2023

THE FORUM, MELBOURNE
Monday, 4 September – NEW SHOW!
Sunday, 10 September – SOLD OUT
Tickets thru Ticketek

THE REGAL THEATRE, PERTH
Wednesday, 6 September
Tickets thru Ticketek

HINDLEY STREET MUSIC HALL, ADELAIDE
Friday, 8 September
Tickets thru Moshtix

ENMORE THEATRE, SYDNEY
Tuesday, 12 September
Tickets thru Ticketek

FORTITUDE MUSIC HALL, BRISBANE
Wednesday, 13 September
Tickets thru Ticketmaster

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