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[Review] Knotfest @ Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne 24/03/2023

Review by Cassandra Hale

It has been a long time coming, we have been waiting patiently, and now the inaugural Knotfest was upon us. The Maggots were festering and ready to burst, the excitement was palpable, the hoards were bouncing on the balls of their feet waiting for those magical gates to swing open and let them the hell in.  The colour of the day was black, it came in every possible version with only the odd orange boiler suit thrown in for good measure. Masks were plentiful strapped on with precision in various arrays which were laboriously removed for the id checks on arrival. I bet the owners weren’t quite expecting that!  Eager to go hunting for all the hidden gems and scope the lay of the land before Malevolence kicked off the proceedings I set off, and man oh man what a huge area to explore. The trek to the Slipknot Museum and other offerings such as flash tattoos and a cheeky haircut felt like walking between suburbs, the area was vast but did not take long to fill. With plenty to keep you entertained and a massive amount of food options it was a great place to come and chill for those seeking some down time.  There was even a tent complete with a wrestling ring which held some pretty feisty matches over the course of the day if you were that way inclined. But for now it was time to get the party started.

Hailing from South Yorkshire, Malevolence hit the stage running, wowing the masses from the first song. I was blown away by these guys. They were super tight and extremely entertaining to watch, and I did not seem to be alone as they amassed people as far as the eye could see. The circle pit made its first appearance and it was rabid, punters so happy to get amongst it. From the outside it looked to be moving at warp speed with people riding on shoulders while making the crazy annulus. A few that caught my attention were Still Waters Run Deep and Self Supremacy, and I will be looking into their back catalogue pronto, these guys were worthy of a spot much higher up the order and set the bar very, very high for the rest of the day.

Malevolence @ Knotfest Melbourne

Melbourne’s Void Of Vision took their place on Stage 2 and I could not believe the early turn out of people, no one wanting to miss one band. They had thousands in front of them as they blasted out their thirty minute set with, singer Jack Bergin pulling out all the stops. With blackened eyes and studded collar, he led the boys as they opened with Into The Dark and I pondered how far they had come since I last saw them. They crammed a lot into their set including HELL HELL HELL and DOMINATRIX and closing out with THE LONELY PEOPLE.

The weather remained favourable after a brief shower early on, but it did not deter a single person as they flowed back to stage one for Melbourne based superstars Alpha Wolf. Opening the pit up instantaneously the boys flew through their set with Hotel Underground being a standout. I could see how overcome they were with the turn out and they seemed humbled on many occasions during their time on stage.  Sabian Lynch even taking to the speaker tower to get a bird’s eye view of the crowd. Nearing the end of their stage time they punched orange and white Alpha Wolf beach balls into the pit which were happily pounded around for the duration of the set.  I was left well impressed by these guys and if you are yet to check them out get on it stat!

Alpha Wolf @ Knotfest Melbourne 2023

Making a dash to try and find a shortened line at any of the four merch counters proved impossible, they were one hundred deep at every one, disheartened I vowed to try again later and headed back to catch the end of Knocked Loose. This Kentucky based five-piece had a huge crowd in front of them as they ploughed through their set including Dead Ringer and Counting Worms. After being around for ten years they have certainly earned their spot and were eager to entertain, singer Bryan Garris bringing his energy to the forefront.  One that definitely took me by surprise was Spiritbox, this Canadian outfit instantly grabbed your attention and held it for the duration of their set. Singer and founding member Courtney LePlante engaging with fans as they powered through with a set of eight including Yellowjacket, Rule of Nines and Hysteria. I can see why their sideshows sold out in minutes; these guys kicked serious arse.

Story Of The Year were earning their spot on stage 2 as the sets grew slightly longer and they threw in a quickfire 9 songs. The mosh was piping up and fans were surfing across the top with vigour. Hailing from Missouri these guys have been around a while and knew how to entertain the swelling masses treating us to We Don’t Care Anymore, Tear Me To Pieces and In The Shadows to name a few. Closing out he set with Until The Day I Die leaving the fans fully satisfied and ready to mix it up with InFlames. Hot off their sideshow with Megadeth these Swedish megastars had the punters in a frenzy, the mosh circling like their life depended on it.  With a terrific span of songs on their setlist the fans were awash with happiness and had their heads banging in approval as Cloud Connected, Only For The Weak and State of Slow Decay were among the treats provided. The punters more like the walking wounded as they slammed over the barrier, many hobbling for help as they were dragged and dumped. But that is the nature of the beast and if you can’t handle the heat get out of the damn kitchen. It was at this point that a wheelchair was raised in the crowd much to singer Anders surprise, but hell, this is Knotfest so anything goes! It would be a sin not to mention Chris Broderick who was shredding up a storm, it was so awesome to see him having so much fun onstage and engaging with the fans, and while I may have been distracted briefly by his bulging biceps I tried to stay focused as they closed out with Take This Life.

Viking heavyweights Amon Amarth have a following like no other and it would be a sin to miss their set for the spectacle alone. It takes you on a historical journey, their songs forged in time, flying Thor’s flag as they navigated through passages of history with vigour and conviction. Guardians Of Asgaard, Deceiver Of The Gods and The Pursuit Of Vikings turning up the heat. As expected, Put You Back Into The Oar saw the heathen army take a seat and ‘row, row, row’ if you are yet to see this in action please add it to your bucket list it is quite the spectacle. The masses raised cardboard swords and shields which did not go unnoticed by singer Johan Hegg, their dedication unwavering. I did see one man in full Viking regalia complete with fur and I was impressed by his enthusiasm.

Northlane really did bring the heat as they turned it up to 11, our own Aussie bands stacking up with the international superstars with ease. The mania had well and truly descended as they opened with Clarity and Plenty. The stage set with LED screens from which the drum riser nestled in between, creating a terrific stage dynamic. The hoards not messing around as a wall of death was quickly established, leaving the weak to fend for themselves as the craziness arrived. Cypher, Clockwork and Bloodline all worthy additions as these boys from Blacktown were overwhelmed by the scene in front of them. Closing out with Talking Heads the boys were well spent and had earned a cold refreshment, but there was none of that for the punters who were back to it with the mighty Trivium. Anyone who has seen these guys in action knows exactly what is in store, these guys play hard and instantly turned the heat metre to 100. Matt Heafy had a smile for miles, his face ever expressive as they worked through an impressive set including Rain, Feast of Fire and Down From The Sky. The pits were intensifying which each band and they took on a pulse of their own as Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr rang out, it was Trivium’s fourteenth trip to Australia and gauging the crowd response it definitely won’t be the last.

Stalwarts of thrash metal and members of The Big Four, the highly anticipated Megadeth’s time had come. The chants of ‘Megadeth’ started long before they hit the stage, the thrash army pumped and ready to mosh. The intro to Prince Of Darkness got the juices flowing as the band unleashed with Hangar 18, Dread And The Fugitive Mind and Angry Again. Dave Mustaine in peak form and smashing out all the hits with ease. Kiko Loureiro working the stage with ease his guitar shredding exemplary, it was such a joy to watch him at work, he owned the stage and boy can he play a guitar! Their stage also came complete with LED screens and an elevated drum riser giving a terrific view of Dirk Verbeuren as he smashed the skins to within an inch of his life. James LoMenzo is the god of bass and so much fun to watch on stage, his crowd engagement is undying giving every fan an up-close experience. Symphony Of Destruction with its signature intro set fans into a frenzy and made them hungry for more. But would any Megadeth show be complete without a quick appearance from Vic Rattlehead, of course not. Peace Sells was the song when he staggered out and the punters went crazy, taking the mosh up a level and saluting this iconic mascot.  There was only one song the fans wanted to finish out the set and it had to be Holy Wars, a Megadeth classic and one that left an air of contentment across the smiling faces of the pit.

Parkway Drive is a household name worldwide these days, the boys have worked ridiculously hard to forge their place in the music industry and it is now paying off in spades.  Their show is a spectacle to behold and I can not begin to describe the size of the crowd that had amassed, there was literally thousands upon thousands as far as the eye could see.  A sea of people moving as one so eager to regain their lost years of music and soak up every minute on offer. They don’t get much bigger in Australia than Parkway Drive and they delivered a show with every bell and whistle and then some. It had flames, it had pryo, it had smoke, it even had a drone taking in all the action. Winston McCall a born entertainer, had the crowd eating out of his hand as the band worked through their hour and a quarter set, including Glitch, Carrion and Vice Grip to name a few, his graciousness was unending to the fans and his face showed his happiness all night. The addition of strings lifted the show to new heights, the violin and cello setting a sunning scene as the sun set over Flemington Racecourse. Winston returned shirtless to start a few hearts racing as they finished out with Crushed and Wild Eyes, flames blasting off every place possible and warming up the quickly cooling venue.

The time had come to honour the name’s sake of the festival itself, Slipknot. The build-up had been one of gargantuan proportions, selling out every show in Australia, the fans voting with their hard earned desperate to see their musical heroes. It has been a long wait six years in fact, the maggot family reunited and ready to raise hell.  Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 played briefly before the AC/DC classic For Those About To Rock stilled the fans, tension was palpable the giant Slipknot banner waving in the wind across the stage, as it dropped Flemington Racecourse exploded. Disasterpiece, Wait And Bleed, and All Out Life got pulses racing and the collective mosh bouncing. Corey Taylor demanded your attention and every eye was on him as fan fave, Sulfur rang out, the stage a mass of impressive screens and lighting, flame throwers rocking the night sky. The show briefly halted while one bozo tried his luck climbing a speaker tower, but the problem was quickly rectified, and the show went on without a hitch. The stage having the trademark Slipknot drum set up on either side raised high to give everyone a perfect viewing platform while the main kit took pride of place. Psychosocial left the hoards panting along with Duality and Custer which just formed a small part of the blistering setlist.  Spit It Out took the show to new levels as we all got ready to get low and hold until our preacher Corey ‘mother fucking’ Taylor told us to ‘jump the fuck up’ it was surreal moment and one that always brings the chills with it. The hold he had over the thousands was masterful to watch, the power he held in his hands mind blowing.  After a quick trip off stage the night was complete with People = Shit and Surfacing what a way to finish of the most amazing day, Corey constantly thanking the fans for their unwavering support, his appreciation paramount all night.

As the war-wounded and weary made their way from the stage, their faces tired, their bodies feeling every bit their age I know with all certainty they would jump back in the pit to do it all again without a moment’s hesitation. The sound, the lighting and effects made the festival what it was, kudos to all involved your dedication and attention to detail made for a wonderful experience and it did not go unnoticed.

Knotfest Australia 2023 was a resounding success, congratulations to each and every person involved, you brought so much joy to the fans and gave them memories to cherish for a lifetime. Now we wait with bated breath until next time……

Amon Amarth, Trivium & Malevolence will be back on stage at the very first KNOTFEST AUSTRALIA kicking off today in Melbourne!

KNOTFEST AUSTRALIA 2023
LINE UP:
 
Slipknot | Parkway Drive | Megadeth | Trivium | Northlane | Amon Amarth
 In Flames Knocked Loose | Spiritbox | Story Of The Year | Alpha Wolf
 Void Of Vision | Bad Omens | Malevolence

DATES AND VENUES:
Friday 24 March 2023 – Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne SOLD OUT
Saturday 25 March 2023 – Centennial Park, Sydney
SOLD OUT
Sunday 26 March 2023 – RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane 
SOLD OUT

Information available at destroyalllines.com

March 24th, 2023 – Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne

Saturday 25 March 2023 – Centennial Park, Sydney

Sunday 26 March 2023 – RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane 

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[Review] Rod Stewart / Cyndi Lauper @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne 14/03/2023

Rod Laver Arena was fit to bursting with many getting the memo that the nights proceedings would make an early start kicking off at 6.30pm. The crowds were filing in at a rapid rate everyone keen to not miss one second of this exhilarating night of live music ahead.

Jon Stevens has been a household name for decades, whether it is for his solo work, Noiseworks or his time in INXS, so it was well worth turning up early to catch his set. He gave us a quick fire 30 minutes with all the fans favourites. Opening with Touch he was off and running instantly engaging the rapidly filling venue. His normally raspy voice sounding even more so tonight but it did not hinder his singing ability one bit. Never Tear Us Apart, No Lies, Hot Chilli Woman, the hits were flying, his awesome band delivering the goods. It was the perfect warm up and the receptive audience loved the INXS classic, Don’t Change followed by the mega hit Take Me Back which had phone torches out and Rod Laver shining bright. Thanks Jon it is always a pleasure to watch you in action.

My love and adoration for Cyndi Lauper is no secret so I was overjoyed to see her again, this is her first tour since 2019, and I felt privileged that she had chosen Australia to ignite the fire again. Opening with Hole In My Heart, Cyndi exploded onto the stage with her technicolour suit and mauve mohawk, traditional in her eclectic style. With so many huge hits to choose from they came thick and fast with lots of entertaining banter in between, The Goonies ‘r’ Good Enough had the nostalgia levels high and happened to coincide with Ke Huy Quan (Data in The Goonies) taking out and Academy Award. Cyndi had her trademark jumps on point hands thrown wayward, still launching up on speakers and rolling on the stage, never missing a beat, a very impressive feat. Time After Time dazzled as torches lit up the room, the song so deserving of its stunning reception. I Drove All Night and Money Changes Everything two of my favourites, the massive screens showing a supersized Cyndi in full flight still hitting those long notes with precision and leaving the fans speechless.

There was not a microphone stand that was safe as Cyndi strutted the stage, whacking them into submission with every pass, one of her specialities that never grows old, she commands your attention and holds it for the duration. A stella performer and one who will stand up for her fundamental rights, a perfect segway to Sally’s Pigeons, her 1993 abortion rights song which has been re-recorded to coincide with troubling times in America. Girls Just Want To Have Fun saw everyone up and dancing, singing along as Cyndi held out the mic for us to take over the lyrics, which we happily obliged. True Colours saw out the set, this masterpiece raising the hairs on my arms, such a beautiful song and one we should all take onboard. Be yourself and don’t be afraid to let those ‘true colours’ show, very wise words indeed. As Cyndi left the stage with her amazing band to a standing ovation, I felt fully satisfied and Rod Stewart was yet to even grace the stage!

After a brief interlude it was time for the man himself, Rocking Rod Stewart. It has been quite the time since he has done the long haul to Australia, so we were champing at the bit to get a piece of Hot Rod action. Let me tell you from the minute that glorious man took the stage I was mesmerised. Opening with a crafty cover of Addicted To Love, Rod owned that stage his cohort of musicians and singers were of the highest calibre, crossing every t and dotting every i. The screens were enormous making sure not one person missed any piece of the action, wrapped around every inch of the stage, this show had every bell and whistle so I settled in and prepared to be wowed. And wowed I was, a blistering two hours with ALL the hits this show knew no boundaries and Rod outstanding in his delivery. You Wear It Well, the Faces classic Oh La La and Some Guys Have All the Luck just for starters.  Rod joking that “it wasn’t a bad turn our for a Tuesday night” and that “it’s been a long time and we are going to fu*king enjoy ourselves” his banter and cheeky wit were unending and gave us plenty of laughs between songs.

Looking much younger and fresher than his years Rod oozed charisma and charm, still wiggling his butt with the best of them. His energy was infectious, and it spread across Rod Laver Arena as the floor seats were empty their patrons on their feet from start to finish. Twisting The Night Away, It Takes Two and a killer Muddy Waters cover of Rollin’and Tumblin’ were next on the hit list and Rod’s band were blisteringly hot in their hot pink suit jackets, their skills exemplary. I know I did not give them the time they deserved but I only had eyes for one man, and he was holding my attention. Rod had an accompaniment of five of the most talented women I have ever seen, no instrument was off limits, no song unachievable, these girls were mind-blowingly good, and full credit to them they kept the show running during costume changes for Rod of which were many, and added another layer to this already packed to the brim show.

Forever Young, The First Cut Is The Deepest and the glorious Maggie May were next to tick off the list and had the arena singing along with gusto. The huge screens overloaded with wonderful accompaniments all night as Rod worked the stage with the ease of a well oiled machine, knowing exactly how to reel you in and keep you in the palm of his hand for the entirety of the show. The opening bars of Young Turks rang out after Rod joking yet again that the Perth crowd didn’t know this one. It was flawless in its delivery and had everyone’s adrenaline pumping, how many more hits could be left was the question. Followed closely by Rhythm of my Heart which saw Rod donning a blue shirt and yellow jacket in a show of solidarity with the Ukraine, this antiwar song hitting the mark perfectly.

Leaving the girls to give us a red-hot cover of Hot Stuff, Rod returning in full leopard print from head to toe as they took it down a notch with a set of five acoustics. People Get Ready, The Killing Of Georgie Part 1, Tonight’s The Night, You’re in My Heart (dedicated to his beloved Celtic soccer club) and Have I Told You Lately. This brief reprieve gave everyone a chance to catch their breath and revel in the brilliance before the last run of rocking tunes. Baby Jane, Stay With Me and Da Ya Think I’m Sexy nearly brought the house down to wild applause. The big screen alight with some questionable emojis that gave me a giggle, but it wouldn’t be Rod Stewart without a bit of sauciness. After a brief absence from the stage Rod returns to finish out the night with the sublime Sailing, it was a moment to cherish, and I will hold it with me for a long time to come.

There was so much more to this show but of course I can’t reveal everything, you MUST go and see it for yourselves. It will take you on a journey across the decades that have formed the man that is Sir Rod Stewart, and you will love every bloody minute!

You can still catch Sir Rod Stewart and Cyndi Lauper at the following shows:

Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne – March 15,2023
A Day On The Green, Geelong – March 18, 2023
AEC Arena, Adelaide – March 21, 2023
A Day On The Green, Mount Cotton – March 25, 2023
A Day On The Green, Mount Cotton – March 26, 2023
Qudos Arena, Sydney – March 29, 2023
Roche Estate, HUnter Valley – April 1, 2023
A Day On The Green, Bowral – April 2nd, 2023

For complete tour, ticket and VIP Experience information, visit: livenation.com.au for A Day On The Green shows please visit www.adayonthegreen.com.au

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Album InterviewsInterviews

Interview with Conrad Sewell

Conrad Sewell may have the down-to-earth candor of a pub singer, but his voice belongs in stadiums. “I still get butterflies just before going on,” Sewell says with a glint in his eye, his golden hair peeking under a wide-brimmed black hat. “It’s like jumping out of a plane. I love it.”

The acclaimed Brisbane-born singer and songwriter, 34, has been singing professionally since age 12, long enough to appreciate the effect his voice has on people. Case in point, 2015’s “Start Again,” a spare piano ballad showcasing Sewell’s powerhouse range, went to Number One in Australia from his debut studio album, LIFE.

So when it came to recording his long-awaited follow-up, PRECIOUS (out March 3 via Sony Music Entertainment Australia) Sewell was adamant: it needed to sound raw. “I’ve never sounded as good on a record as I do in person,” he says. “There’s just a power there that doesn’t come across any other way.”

Sewell started with a personal playlist of 60s, 70s and 80s soul pop and rock greats—Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart, George Michael, and more—as his musical north star. Then he spent six weeks in Jackson Browne’s Santa Monica studio, where he wrote, produced, and cut all of the new material the old-fashioned way: in-person and with a cadre of like-minded soul addicts, including John Mayer guitarist Zane Carney and Black Crowes’ keyboardist Adam MacDougall.

“There were definitely those moments where we’re thinking, ‘Are people going to get it? Are these slick enough for radio?’” Sewell says. “But then we were like, you know what, we need to make this the album we’ve been dreaming of. There’s a lot of heart in this music, and it’s important for the world to hear some stuff like that now.”

The stripped down approach with PRECIOUS represented personal unburdening for Sewell—of all the expectations he never felt he was meeting in the music industry. Sewell signed his first major label deal at age 17. Sewell had the whole package: boy-band good looks, endless charisma, and a pliable soprano that conveyed the emotional depth of someone twice his age.

He spent years touring the world and finetuning his sound, first in the pop band The Frets, then the rock band Sons of Midnight. Sewell rebranded as a solo act after his song with the Norwegian DJ/producer Kygo, “Firestone,” ignited the charts across Europe. Before long, Sewell was opening arenas for superstars like Ed Sheeran, Maroon 5, and Jess Glynne.

But in retrospect, Sewell questioned whether he was artistically ready to walk through the doors that kept opening for him. “I was like a puppet,” Sewell says. “I loved to write, so when someone would tell me to write an album like Calvin Harris, or Sam Smith, or whatever, I did it. But when it didn’t connect, I questioned everything. Is it me? Am I not good enough? What am I missing?”

After a long period of disillusionment, Sewell made it to the other side. PRECIOUS tells that intensely personal story, scars and all, from a sweeping array of musical vantage points: there are orchestral swells, Houses of the Holy guitar solos, Daptone-style blues, and even bagpipes.

“Ego,” Sewell says, is the song that encapsulates the album. The bluesy track begins with hushed brass and syncopation that slaps you across the face. Sewell enters the confessional and holds nothing back. “I’m the ultimate people pleaser,” Sewell says, “And this song is really about me getting over those tendencies, letting go of my ego, and having an honest look at myself.”

PRECIOUS kicks off with the vibrant punch of “God Save The Queen,” a Stones-y party jam about shaking off the invisible chains holding you down. “Ferris Wheel” is Sewell’s ode to big, harmonica-blessed heartland rock. It’s hard not to think of John Mellencamp or Bruce Springsteen as Sewell sings of flashbacks and fairgrounds over a sun-dappled southern guitar. Similarly, “Believer” thrums the electric intensity of chasing an unrequited love. “Said you would leave me for dead, but I woke up in your bed,” Sewell purrs.

Many of the songs find Sewell channeling his pain into the desire for romantic redemption that may never come, as on the spectral power ballad “Rolling Thunder. “Just know that we’re broken/ So many words left unspoken,” he sings.

“Caroline” offers the colder side of “Ferris Wheel.” It’s a gorgeous string and acoustic-guitar ode to the long drives and glistening night skies of young love. “Slipping Away” follows that nostalgic thread (“If I could hold you again, I would/ Gotta lay down my pride”) but with a sensual, ‘70s flair. Here, Sewell’s falsetto reaches Bee Gee altitudes, as he basks in the glow of a ripping saxophone.

On “Blood Sugar” Sewell wields his heart like a ten-pound hammer. “Losing you was not my plan,” he sings. “It’s safe to say/ It comes in waves.”

All of this emotionality builds to “Precious,” the album’s undeniable tour de force. The song was originally a ballad until Adam suggested doing a take that was faster, rougher around the edges. “I swear to God, it was like Joe Cocker came into the room and took over my body for six minutes,” Sewell says, still incredulous. “I started singing in this different voice, freestyling all the verses and everything that came out of my mouth just made perfect sense.”

Just as Sewell said when he set out to make this record, the final version is nearly identical to that raw cut. And with all due respect to the ghost of Joe Cocker, Sewell wasn’t possessed in that take. He was experiencing, maybe for the first time, what it is to be truly free.

“My gut’s always right but I never trusted it,” Sewell says in his gentle, self-deprecating way. “It took hitting fucking rock bottom for me to realize my music depends on me believing in myself.”

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[Review] Stryper @ 170 Russell, Melbourne 05/03/2023

The yellow and black attack are back after last gracing out shores in 2018, they have made their return and the fans couldn’t be happier, the unending line snaking up and around 170 Russell in Melbourne a testament to the numbers waiting to get in.  As I made my way down the stairs it was clear there was a b-line for merch knowing it sold out last time Stryper were in town. So after a quick stop there I got my spot up close to the stage so I didn’t miss a minute of the action.

Opening the nights proceeding were Crosson, delivering a set almost reminiscent of a theatre show, complete with dancers, costume changes and a few rocking tunes in-between. They have been around for quite a while so it must be working for them, and they had the crowd starting to warm up by the end of their set. Followed closely by Sydney’s Panik who gave a flat-out thrash set, for a threesome these guys packed a punch and had 170 rocking with big riffs and high kicks. They left the punters well and truly ready and left me well impressed.

The heavy metal tunes were pumping from the speakers, the fans were singing along getting their voices warmed up, could any compete with Michael Sweet? definitely not, but we all like to think we could. The Marshall amps were stacked across the stage ready to be put to the test with Robert’s kit perched on top in his trademark sideways style. The lights dimmed the tension palpable, we have been waiting out the last few years to have Stryper back in Australia, and we were more than ready to rock out with them.

After touring as a trio last time due to Oz’s ill health I am happy to report that all four members were here and looking sharp. As they took the stage the fans erupted, it was clear they had brought their singing voices and weren’t afraid to use them. In God We Trust got the party started followed by Revalation and More Than A Man. Constantly engaging with the crowd Michael Sweet exuded happiness to be touring again and to be back in Australia. After having his own health issues of late we were delighted to have him here as well. While the set list wasn’t as extensive as Stryper’s last visit there was lots to love as Surrender and Calling On You rang out.  Free was up next, the boys smashing out the songs with gusto,

Oz and Michael shredding skills both exemplary, as always the solos were hit to perfection showing the room just how it is done. The booming drum intro to Sorry from the ripping album God Damn Evil had everyone up and about, and while it was apparent Robert had been having a few technical issues with his kit he didn’t let this stop him hitting the gritty depths of the wicked groove. The hits keep coming with All For One, Always There For You and the amazing Divider which was explosive in its delivery and had the fans singing along.

The Valley ripped the venue a new one, it was loud, and it was heavy, just how we like them, then followed by the one we all wanted to hear Yahweh! Styper bibles were at the ready, randomly thrown out to the crowd over the course of the evening. While one grazed my hand, sadly I didn’t get the coveted keepsake, maybe next time, as Michael promised they would keeping coming back for as long as we would have them. Perry Richardson was magnificent, dazzling us all night, his smile as wide as the stage, loving every minute. The fans loved right back as Soldiers Under Command rang out, the punters losing their minds as this epic song played and 170 sang along in loud voices keeping them primed for To Hell With The Devil a classic Stryper hit and one we all happy made the cut.

As the night drew to its conclusion, we were hopeful for just one more song and through the higher powers our prayers were answered with the boys returning for Sing-Along Song. This took the crowd to celestial heights, we were drained nothing left in the tank but we screamed out hearts out as they boys came to the forefront giving them the applause they so deserved. Robert threw not drumsticks but his stack of bibles to the hungry crowd, and still they remained elusive to me. Next time I will have my bible catching hand on point!  Final waves and thanks were given, and we were left to recover from a night of hot sweaty, godly rock, that can only be described as angelic. 

Stryper were the preachers, and we were their congregation, spellbound by their words, captivated by their songs, we were disciples schooled in the church of heavy metal, and didn’t we love it! 

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[Review] Backstreet Boys @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne 28/02/2023

There is no doubt The Backstreet Boys DNA Tour has been highly awaited, with fans patiently biding their time amongst rescheduling and postponements. But the time is upon us, and boy am I excited and gauging the amount of people heading to Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne I am not alone. It is night one of two in this wonderful city, and the fans are coming out in force, keen as mustard to get amongst some long awaited boy band action.

Samantha Jade, winner of 2012 Australian X Factor had a wonderful time warming up the packed Rod Laver Arena. She bought a few friends along for added harmonies and delivered lots of classic covers that helped settle the nervous excitement if only for a short period. Samantha was well received by the expanding crowd and had them singing loudly along by the conclusion of her set. Her 30 mins was packed with hits perfectly picked to get the party started, and Samantha showed she can still deliver the goods.

The stage was set and it was impressive to say the least, a diamond shaped catwalk host to the most beloved fans, perched happily in the middle, and a fractured ribcage of framework over the main stage which was set in several levels. Huge screens hung from the ceiling forming a triangle the perfect additional for the fans who weren’t up close. I just knew right from the get-go this show would deliver with all the bells and whistles and the ripples of excitement were growing by the second.  The screams were electric as the lights dropped and the enormous screen behind the stage came to life, with lots of glitz the ensuing intro was enough to rouse the venue to its feet as the word UNBREAKLABLE flashed up followed by BSB. Images of the Boys appeared and amidst it all smoke cannon erupted as the Backstreet Boys made their first appearance.

Opening with I Wanna Be With You the show was off and running, It was an amazing two hours packed with four 30 minute sets, each accompanied by a costume change. Each set a different member having a chat, ever gracious and thankful for the fans who have stuck with them for 30 years. Tonight’s Melbourne show was number 200 in the DNA tour, which is no mean feat considering the size of its production, with three of the BSB team hailing from Australia it was lovely for them to have some time at home while still on tour with these big guns. The hits were unstoppable The Call, Don’t Want You Back and Get Down a few to make Set 1. The dance moves still as polished as back in the day, the BSB cut an amazing form as they strutted not just the stage but around the catwalk. Happily trading hand slaps with the fans in and around the inner sanctum, Brian nearly dragged into the pit on several occasions. His cheeky demeaner ever present as he works the stage giving plenty to the eager fans and loving every minute, his interaction so genuine it shone.

All of the BSB were so humbled by the fans all taking time to talk to them, hold hands and acknowledge them, it was lovely to see they are still so invested in what has made them who they are. Set 2 was launched with Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely, Incomplete and Undone. The stage backdrops constantly changing to suit the next song, visually it was a fest for your eyes and at times overwhelming with its Backstreet goodness. The Boys singing voices primed and just as good if not better than I imagined, the harmonies still quite magical and smooth as silk. The Shape of My Heart and Drowning another two fan favourites, the boy band moves melting the hearts of many.

Set three saw two large boxes appear on stage one with BSB and one with DNA which Kevin and AJ jumped into after being left onstage. It was time to give a bit back to the screaming girls that in another life threw their underwear on stage, now the boys would change in the boxes and throw THEIR underwear to the fans. It was a fun aspect and gave lots of giggles as the boys changed their threads and emerged looking fresh and ready to melt hearts. Quit Playing Games With My Heart saw the boys take a seat at the front of the catwalk as the stage raised to greet them. Nick and Howie facing the fans in the inner sanctum, happily chatting and signing autographs, could these guys be any sweeter?! As Long As You Love Me saw glowing mic stands arise from the stage floor and caused many a girl to swoon. No Place from the DNA album had a wonderful addition, the huge screens above us showing footage of all the Boys and their families singing the song and doing their day to day things. It was such a beautiful moment to match this stunning song, family is everything and while they are away they are bringing a little bit of home with them.  Then it’s time to head to the sky, the stage they had been sitting on raised up towards the roof and the Boys played a lovely A Capella tune showing they have the good even without music. The large screens above them descended until they swapped places and were actually on top of the screens singing from the rooftops. Quite the spectacle, but there was no time for rest as they hightailed it back to the mainstage for All I Have To Give, seeing out set three.

Tension was mounting, Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) had to being coming in hot and as the big screens came to life with another stunning intro the floor opened and the Boys appeared all donned in white, rising to the familiar tune we had been waiting for. Let me tell you, it DID NOT disappoint. The moves hit in stunning brilliance the stage awash with electric candy skulls in shocks of colour and laser lights. Rod Laver was on its collective feet and overwrought with happiness reliving this song of our youth. This last set packed a punch with hit after hit, We’ve Got It Going On, The One and I Want It That Way to name few. As the boys took their bows we were certain there was a few left in the tank and after a brief stage absence they were back to finish out the night. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart set pulses racing, and then the mega hit Larger Than Life which saw the smoke cannons explode and the dance moves hit celestial heights. Confetti rained down and streamers launched from the stage, a truly fitting end to a phenomenal show and one I will remember for years to come.

The Backstreet Boys really separate the wheat from the chaff, and they have been sowing golden fields uninterrupted for over 30 years. If there is one show you need to see in your lifetime it is this one, and while Backstreets Back, for many they never left!

REMINING DATES FOR THE BACKSTREET BOYS: The DNA World Tour – Australia 2023

  • ROD LAVER ARENA, MELBOURNE WEDNESDAY MARCH 1
  • QUDOS BANK ARENA, SYDNEY SATURDAY MARCH 4
  • QUDOS BANK ARENA, SYDNEY SUNDAY MARCH 5
  • BRISBANE ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE WEDNESDAY MARCH 8

ALL TICKETS ON SALE NOW.

For complete tour, ticket and VIP Experience information, visit: backstreetboys.com & livenation.com.au

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InterviewsTour Interview

Interview with Tim King (SOiL)

From the moment Wisconsin Death Trip was released to an unsuspecting world, Static-X stood above. Their industrial alt-rock hybrid “Evil Disco” shook metal from its stagnant state and redefined what can be done with heavy music. 

Each subsequent album enhanced and cemented the band's well earned reputation.  

In 2019, founding members Tony Campos, Koichi Fukuda and Ken Jay recruited an unidentified mask wearing enigma on vocals known as Xer0 and hit the road to celebrate the band's legacy, the anniversary of Wisconsin Death Trip and as a memorial to fallen frontman Wayne Static.

 The love, esteem and respect for the band that give so much at every live show was reflected back to them from fans, critics and peers alike.

“After witnessing the band’s set in NYC’s Sony Hall, you can leave all preconceived notions at the door. Static-X is a wild and crazy good time to be had. An impassioned and unforgettable performance.  If you have the opportunity to see Static-X, GO. Don’t hesitate, just GO!” – Music Existence
 

This May, Static-X return to Australia to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their highly acclaimed album Machine with a setlist that includes a slew of songs from their expansive career; from their iconic debut, Wisconsin Death Trip, through to their latest and aptly titled 
Project:Regeneration Vol 1

“We are so excited to finally get back to Australia. We plan to play most of the songs off of both Machine and Wisconsin Death Trip as well a number of nice surprises. It’s going to be one for the ages and we can’t wait to get out there and celebrate 20 years of our Machine record while we continue to remember all of the good times that we had with Wayne and to share it live and loud with all of our Aussie fans. It’s going to be awesome!” Tony Campos 

Joining Static-X for the tour are SOiL; pioneers of a sound that gave the world bands such as Godsmack, Spineshank and Mudvayne, SOiL’s influence goes deep. Frontman Ryan McCombs powerful vocals spawned a thousand imitators and they were one of leading acts to modernise rock at the turn of the century…The band will be performing their groundbreaking album. Scars, in full as well as other favourites.

TOURING MAY 2023
Friday 19: Northcote Theatre, Melbourne
Saturday 20: The Metro, Sydney
Sunday 21: Eatons Hill, Brisbane

TICKETS ON SALE FRIDAY, JANUARY 27 

Details & Ticketing Links @
thephoenix.au

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Gig ReviewsReviews

[Review] Harry Styles @ Marvel Stadium, Melbourne 24/02/2023

Melbourne was awash with Harry Styles mania as this postponed, rescheduled and pandemic interrupted Love On Tour show finally made it to our Aussie shores. Marvel Stadium was host to this phenomenon and if you missed the memo, you could easily think Marvel was holding the world’s biggest hen’s night! There was feather boas and sequins for miles as every man, woman and their dog donned a cowboy hat (preferably pink) and hightailed it to get a piece of Harry fandom.

The merch room, yes it had its own room, was pumping with long lines for those who didn’t take advantage of the cheeky opening a day before showtime. But needless to say, it was a very popular place and undoubtedly the weekly wage of many will be done and dusted. As I took my seat in Harry’s House it was a spectacle to behold, with over 50,000 people filling Marvel Stadium to the rafters. No mean feat and to think it was only night one!

Opening the nights proceedings was British indie outfit Wet Leg. Relatively new to the scene, forming in 2019, they have raced to fame and have a massive following in their own right. They gave us a forty-minute set with plenty to like. Bring In Love, Wet Dream, Angelica to name a few, finishing out with their debut single Chaise Lounge. They were warmly received and thoroughly enjoyed by the packed house, founding members Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers quite mesmerising bringing the boho feels to a warm Friday night. I am sure they will have gained a new Australian following after their fab performance.

Preshow songs started pumping from the PA and the crowd was instantly up and about, and when Bohemian Rhapsody rang out the phone torches were out and the stadium sang in one voice, adrenaline and nervous excitement radiating from every corner, and to think the show had not yet begun.  There was a quiet lull for just a moment as the entire mass took a collective breath and launched into what would be almost two hours of non-stop rollercoaster ride that is Harry Styles.  Opening with Music for A Sushi Restaurant the screams were ear piercing, the venue exploding in long pent-up emotions and love for their idol as he took centre stage. His sparkly striped polo and leather pants setting the scene amongst his enormous stage set up, complete with huge screens to give eyes to the people in the back bedrooms. A flood lit runway brought Harry up close to the fans and he used it all night, reading signs and catching almost everything that was thrown his way, hats, balls and boas included.

Golden, Adore You, Keep Driving bringing out all the feels, as Harry weaved his magic working through all his hits keeping the fans captivated every step of the way. Daylight, Woman and then one that is very special to Harry, Matilda. Instantly Marvel lit up with phone torches setting a stunning backdrop as Harry sung from the catwalk stage. A feeling of love overwhelming as the whole stadium harmonised along. A stunning scene and one that will stick with me for a long while. Harry was very gracious to his fans, taking time to banter and chat, helping one girl to come out after reading her sign, and singing happy birthday to another. Those little things that mean the world and are literally a life changing moment for them. Nice one Harry, what an all-round great guy!

Smashing through hit after hit, Little Freak, Satellite and Cinema the crowd here hungry for more and Harry delivered song after glorious song. Treat People With Kindness a lovely addition and really what the night was about, loving everyone no matter who you are, where you come from, your sexuality or your ethnicity. None of that matters, just love openly, acceptingly and be kind to one another. There was no better way to bring the love to the room than with a One Direction favourite and boy did Marvel erupt as the opening chords of What Makes You Beautiful rang out. Everyone’s inner tween bursting out with pride singing next level loud, such a fun song that has stood the test of time and was quite the nostalgia trip for many.

With Harry’s disclaimer that he would not being doing a shoey nor would he ever do it again, it came down to Pauli Lovejoy his percussionist, who happily jumped in and took one for the team. Cheers ringing out as he downed the tainted bevy, clearly not enjoying the experience at all but giving the fans what they wanted. Speaking of the band, they are absolutely fabulous, it is hard to give them your full attention when Harry is upfront, but they are super tight and sounded amazing. Kudos to you all, you kept the night running like clockwork and we cannot thank you enough.

Then a public service announcement from Harry, it’s time to dance and its ok if you haven’t been doing it so far, but now is the time as he launches into Late Night Talking and then the mega hit Watermelon Sugar HighLove Of My Life seeing out the set but of course we knew there were a few mega hits still to come so we sat tight and started the chants and foot stomping to draw Harry back to centre stage.

Harry returned to mind bending screams but took it down just a notch as Sign Of The Times played out, it was sublime and I was momentarily breathless as Marvel lit up, voices united singing this spectacular song as one. The Aussie flag making an appearance several time over the course of the night, Harry draping it around his shoulders, so grateful to his fans, thank you’s coming on autopilot. Clearly overwhelmed by all the love in the room, Harry at one stage stated, “I feel Emotional”. If there is one thing us Aussies can do it is turn up to a party, and I had a feeling we were just about to flip the lid on Marvel Stadium. As the familiar intro to As It Was rang out the fans exploded to life again, singing voices primed just for this moment, and while the show could have ended right there I was hoping for just once little green fruit to pop up to see out the show.  Queue Kiwi, and if Marvel had a roof, it would have been raised, the energy was off the charts, the fans overloaded with Harry not wanting the night to end. But nothing can last forever and exhausted, drained of every last bit of energy we lovingly waved goodbye but I am sure many will be back to do it all again tomorrow night.

Tonight’s Love On Tour show was an easy one to sum up, we didn’t just get the Watermelon or the Kiwi we got the whole damn fruit bowl and it was a glorious healthy feast for the mind, body and spirit! Thank you, Harry Styles, for bringing the love and uniting thousands in their pursuit of acceptance and happiness, it was monumental show and one I was so happy to be part of.

You can still catch Harry Styles' Love On Tour at the below dates:

Tuesday, 28th February – Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast QLD
Friday, 3rd March – Accor Stadium, Sydney NSW
Saturday, 4th March – Accor Stadium, Sydney NSW

Tickets available at Live Nation Australia

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[Review] Geoff Tate @ Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne 08/02/2023

It is a perfect Melbourne night as hundreds of punters stream into The Croxton Bandroom to see the most recognisable voice in progressive metal – Geoff Tate. It has been a few years since Geoff was here performing what is arguably the greatest concept album of all, Operation Mindcrime, in its entirety. Tonight’s offering was, Rage for Order and Empire, back-to-back which would be a sin to miss. The fans certainly voted with their hard earned, coming along for a night that knew no musical boundaries. Melbourne is the first stop for the tour and what a privilege to be the first to get our live music deprived ears acquainted with Mr Tate yet again. I took my spot front and centre and settled in for what would be a mind-blowing assault on the senses and God damn was I ready!  

Opening the nights proceedings were Melbourne four-piece metal outfit, Demonhead. After playing with Geoff in Europe late last year it was a given that they would get the coveted opening slot. I was instantly impressed with their ripping riffs and arse-kicking sound. They gave us a quick fire set of seven songs, each delivered with a new gut punch. It was clear from the moment they started they had fans in the crowd, lots of heads nodding in approval and singing along. Lead singer Dave was engaging with the crowd and certainly held their attention. Their sound is a good mix of thrash and your traditional metal, so if that is your thing go check them out. I picked up the vinyl edition of their latest offering Black Devil Lies on my way home and cannot wait to give it a spin!

The Croxton Bandroom was now buzzing with electricity, the voices were a little louder, the people a little sweatier as we counted the minutes until show time. The stage awash with a huge backdrop baring the name of the man himself Geoff Tate. As the house lights dropped the roar was deafening as the band took to the stage. It was the same line up as the Mindcrime show with only one new addition, Danny Laverde on Drums, who kept the show running like clockwork, never missing a beat. Let’s explore the rest of the band, they may be young, but they are seasoned professionals and have Geoff’s sound down to perfection. James Brown was on lead guitar shredding up a storm, Kieran Robertson, hailing from Glasgow, Scotland was a pocket rocket, he looked like a rock star and worked the stage like one. With funky hair, tattoos, and tight pants he was the epitome of cool and left no corner of the stage uncovered. My goodness, Jack Ross, also from Scotland, lit up the stage with his smile. Thoroughly enjoying every minute of his live time slapping his bass to within an inch of its life.  Nothing was overlooked on this tour, the lighting was top notch, the sound impeccable, kudos to all involved.

Enter the man, the myth, the legend, Geoff Tate, jumping straight into Rage for Order in its entirety. I asked Geoff ‘why Rage?’ in our last interview and his answer was “because I really wanted to” and I cannot think of a better reason. He worked through this dark album with such gusto and feeling, his voice in phenomenal form, never faltering all night, still hitting the high notes as he did in his prime. Stand outs for me from this album were Walk In The Shadows, Gonna Get Close to You, Surgical Strike and Screaming In Digital, but who am I kidding, every song was a stand out! To hear it from start to finish was a once in a lifetime experience and I am so glad I was a part of making history in Melbourne.  Geoff looked the epitome of cool in his patterned gold jacket, glasses and black Fedora, the hat coming on and off unlike the glasses which stayed tightly affixed all night.

After a short interval Geoff and the band were back, looking refreshed, sporting new threads and a new attitude. You could sense the darkness of Rage for Order had been checked at the door and the uplifting sounds of Empire were coming in hot. Geoff had a spring in his step as he launched into Best I Can, the crowd were lifting, and I could feel them creeping into my space, adrenaline pushing them forward wanting to get closer to their idol. Jet City Woman had the punters raising their voices to greet Geoff with a proper Melbourne sing-a-long and it did not go unnoticed. With no setlists needed Geoff joked when it was time to play Empire that he couldn’t remember the next song and asked us to remind him. We happily obliged as Geoff launched into the title track that set The Croxton alight. The masterpiece that is Silent Lucidity saw phone torches out and fans swaying while they sang, Geoff’s voice absolute perfection. Hand on Heart, One and Only and the amazing Anybody Listening? saw out Empire but still left us wanting more, all hungry for just ‘one more song’.

It didn’t take much chanting to bring the stage back to life and the familiar intro of Eyes of a Stranger had the band room in a frenzy. My singing voice was diminishing more by the second, could there be one more in the tank, we are all hopeful as screams rang out, and after a quick convo with the band they dive into Queen of The Reich almost raising the roof in the process, a definite fan favourite and perfect choice to finish out the night. Geoff’s screams hit with precision, each one delivered with chilling satisfaction, there was no place I would rather be, and I soaked up every second letting the songs of my youth wash over me feeling contentment radiating from within.   

With bows and waves goodbye from all, we were left to contemplate the enormity of what we had just witnessed, and I for one was already contemplating what albums might be next when we see Mr Tate return to our Australian shores.

You can still catch Geoff Tate one more time for this tour in Adelaide.

Thursday 10th Feb 2023 @ The Gov, Adelaide

Tickets available here

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InterviewsTour Interview

Interview with Geoff Tate (2023)

Legendary vocalist GEOFF TATE is coming back to Australia after his highly successful shows performing OPERATION MINDCRIME in its entirety back in pre-Covid 2020.

This time, Aussie fans are in for a real treat, GEOFF TATE and band will perform two classic QUEENSRŸCHE albums in their entirety, RAGE FOR ORDER and EMPIRE!

RAGE FOR ORDER:

RAGE FOR ORDER was more progressive than the band's previous releases, with a layered and complex musical structure that employed a two-guitar approach, but also brought keyboards forward in the mix. Lyrically, the album explored social/personal, political and technological themes, among others highlighting the dangers of artificial intelligence and government intrusion.

You will get to hear, live, classics like Walk In The Shadows, I Dream In Infrared, Killing Words, Surgical Strike, every song from the album… ALL classics!!!!

Then after a short break, you will hear QUEENSRŸCHE's most commercially successful release to date, the multi-platinum worldwide smash, EMPIRE.

EMPIRE:

EMPIRE is the fourth full-length studio album by QUEENSRŸCHE, released on August 20, 1990. The album stands as QUEENSRŸCHE‘s most commercially successful release, reaching triple-platinum status and the primary single, the power ballad Silent Lucidity, which reached number 1 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks and number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. Silent Lucidity was also nominated for the Grammy Awards of 1992 in the categories Best Rock Song and Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.

Also hear other timeless tracks live such as Jet City Woman, Empire, Anybody Listening… the whole album, start to finish.

This will be a once in a lifetime experience for Australian fans… this won’t happen again. This will sell fast!

 

GEOFF TATE February 2023 Australian Tour Dates

Wednesday 8 February – MELBOURNE – Croxton

Thursday 9 February – SYDNEY – Manning

Friday 10 February – ADELAIDE – The Gov

 

LIMITED VIP MEET & GREET WITH GEOFF TATE, includes:

– Early access to the show and merch stand

– Get a photo on your phone/device with Geoff Tate

– Australian tour poster to get signed by Geoff Tate

– Exclusive VIP lanyard/laminate

– Bring along 2 personal items to get signed

VIP TICKET INCLUDES ENTRY TO THE SHOW

Don’t miss seeing one of the most iconic voices of our Metal/Rock generation – Mr Geoff Tate.

TICKETS AND INFO:

WWW.HARDLINEMEDIA.NET

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