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[Review] Neck Deep @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 05/09/2023

Review By Nikki Eenink

As I left to see Welsh emo heavyweights Neck Deep rock the house at The Forum, my housemate said to me, shocked; “You’re going to a gig? On a Tuesday?” I shrugged. If there’s one thing you can rely on, it’s that the emo, punk and hardcore community will come out in full force any day of the week. This midweek feast for the senses was no exception.

Hailing from the tiny town of Wrexham, in Wales. Neck Deep have been a staple in any emo playlist since their foundation in 2012. Front-man Ben Barlow’s energy is the stuff of legend. He’s known for big jumps, shooeys and general shenanigans. The videos of him performing are insane; whole stadiums alive with energy, screaming and crowd surfing and ready to riot. I had measured my expectations, there’s no way he can do that every time. But when I tell you, it was all of that and more – it was all of that and more.

From the literal jump, Barlow leaps onstage and is a whirling dervish of limbs and sweat drops. His energy is infectious. Instantly, there is so much space at the back of the room as everyone lunges forward, hands held high, drinks sloshing onto the shortest of us. It’s mayhem. The definition of organised chaos. Never disrespectful, we happily collide and tangle ourselves in the bodies of strangers as we are thrown into Sonderland. The lights on the stage are amazing. Swinging spotlights in brilliant blues and purple flash into our eyes and reflect off the fearsome foursome onstage. It’s magical.

As their first number draws to a close, Barlow pulls the microphone in close. “What’s up my fucking low lives? Oh it’s been too long” We show our approval by wolf calling and a chorus of happy screams. And instantly, we are thrown back into the frenzy with Low Life. And what a bunch of degenerates we are. “Something is cooking, I smell some kush!” Barlow chuckles into the mic. And he’s right. The room smells of beer and weed and a little sweat. But looking around, everyone’s beaming stretched ear to stretched ear. There’s nowhere we’d rather be. “We never thought we’d come to the other side of the world and play for all these people”. And what an eclectic bunch we are. Skater chic, goths, guys in denim jackets. All of us move together as we push forward and give ourselves over to Kali Ma, screaming the lyrics that hit extra hard in this brutal Melbourne winter.

Count my blessings on one hand and my curses on the other / Let you slip between my fingers, hide away until the summer.

As this number draws to a close, Barlow addresses us again, in a speech that highlights the band’s blue-collar origins. “I don’t know much about Australian politics, but I do know you have a billionaire problem. You have the spawn of Satan himself, Rupert fucking Murdoch.” The entire crowd let’s out an animalistic: BOOOO. He winds on, commenting on capitalism and sexism and the issues facing us as a society. “Women have been talking about this shit for ages, and now it’s finally coming to a head. Things back on our Little Piece of Shit Island (couldn’t have described the UK better myself if I tried) are bleak. We’re fucking over it. If you’re fucking over it, I wanna feel that for this next song.” The next song, Citizens of Earth, goes off. We feel his words, and his rage, and we lean into that – letting it all out. Even as the crowd gets rougher, we take care of each other. Yelling “heads!” when the next person got up to crowd surf (seriously – so much crowd surfing), or holding the back of someone’s head so they don’t hit anything while they headbang. Right before the high energy bridge, Barlow screams into the mic:


And we all cheer for the brief moment we can, before launching back into the song.

As it ends, Barlow is back. We hang on his every word, rapt. “I can see you’re pretty pissed off, that’s good.” We are all red-faced, with heaving chests and throats already raspy from singing (shouting) along. Pissed off, but ecstatic. “It’s important to remember; the billionaires might be out to get you, but life is not.” It’s then I notice the couple’s holding hands, the guy next to me with full neck and arms tattooed wiping away tears. This is joy. Life must be alright, because life’s got Neck Deep.

They wind through some more of the set, playing old and new songs. Teasing that there’s a new album to be released imminently. It just finished recording. I REPEAT, THERE IS A NEW ALBUM COMING.

Guitarists Sam Bowden and original member Matt West are unbelievable. These tracks have a newfound depth when you hear them live. The guitar zips around the room, perfectly nesting in my ears. Never too loud, or too soft. They play in perfect harmony. Nailing intricate riffs, unconventional time signatures, and the road-bumps that can come from playing live – they must be some of the best out there. Truly they never falter. On top of playing stunning melodies, and heavenly rhythm sections, they also manage to completely match Barlow’s energy. Jumping and swinging their guitars. They often motion for us to get more hyped up. It seems like they don’t even break a sweat. It’s absolutely spellbinding.

Of course, there’s the obligatory shooey. It’s an artist touring Australia right of passage. But I’m nervous for Barlow – this is very early in the set to be offering up a shooey. He’s opening Pandora’s Box.

“Are there any heartbroken people out there?” I scream, but I can’t hear myself. Everyone’s yelling. Even those with a partner next to them. Heartbreak takes many forms. Heartbreak of the Century is fresh off the press. A 2023 release, one half of their Take Me With You EP. “This one’s fresh out of the oven. We’re talking March 2023. But don’t worry, I have a gorgeous fiancé, I’m fine.” Barlow smirks. A girl behind me let’s out a guttural, devastated “Nooo!!!!!” This song could have been an earlier release, we know every word. It just rolls of the tongue. Lines like

“But my love aint enough. Maybe that’s ok. I was thinking about fucking myself anyway.”

Demand to be screamed. We all think we’ve gone through The World’s Worst Heartbreak. And even as we scream along, there isn’t a bad vibe in the room. We’re all just so happy to be here together. Heartbreak is a distant memory.

We hit some technical difficulties, so as they try to go into the second half of their Take Me With You EP – aptly named, Take Me With You. There’s an issue with the sound and lighting. Something techy. I was honestly too caught up in the vibe to realise. Barlow goes into, as he calls it, “A stand-up routine”. “This song is about aliens coming down, and wanting to go with them. I for one welcome our new alien overlords. But they don’t want us to play.” Turning to their drummer, Barlow says. “Take it away! Give us a drum solo!” Turning back to us, “This will be his first ever drum solo”.  We are treated to a delightful 30 seconds of bass and snare, and for the first time, we’re all quiet. Once he’s done, we all cheer and hoot and holler. The new addition to the band blushes. Barlow has been shifting foot to foot, looking down. “One of my fucking shoes is wet, I might do another shooey.” He immediately regrets teasing us with that. The crowd is ablaze with frantic cheers of “SHOOEY SHOOEY SHOOEY”.

Barlow relaxes into the technical difficulties; the band is confident in their ability to just keep playing. “Sometimes fan’s hear us play our more emotional stuff, or a love song, and go ‘waa waa, you guys have gone soft.’ Motherfuckers, we’ve always been soft. You guys remember Part of Me? That was maybe our first big hit, and it’s soft as fuck. We won’t be playing it. It’s had its time. Sorry guys. But we will play these next two for you.” And they don’t just play, they demolish Smooth Seas Don’t Make Good Sailors and then, personal fave, She’s a God.

For the latter, I move my way back into the middle of the crowd to scream along and happily bounce as I catch glimpses of Barlow and his merry misery crew, my vision obstructed by old-skool vans floating over people’s heads as 3 or 4 people at once crowd surf. The people clamber over themselves to grab Barlow as he sings into the crowd, or if he gets close. He smiles at them. “Let’s get this going! Let’s spin a little.” And the middle of the floor turns into a whirlwind. If a mosh pit could be loving, this one sure was.

Finally, the guys can play Take Me With You. And it was so worth the wait. It’s fun and sounds unreal over The Forum’s speaker system.

As the night is drawing to a close, Barlow says into the mic, “This is our last song.” We all try to get our breath, but don’t give him the reaction he wants. “If only there was some kind of performative bullshit you could do to get us to come back out, if only.” We laugh and humour him, a sea of “Nooo!” “One more song!” Smirking back at us. “I told you you’d get one more, easy.” And what better song to “finish” with than December (Again). It’s a Neck Deep classic. “This song is about being really sad in winter, but I guess here you’ll just be miserable on the beach.” And we all cheer. I think I ascended during this song. I’ve never had so much fun. I make friends, I nearly cry, I let it out. Un-fucking-believable.

They walk offstage, and we launch into a heavy chorus of “Noo!!” “One more!!” And, of course, as promised, they come right back.

“Alright! Let’s end this properly!” And we are thrown into Motion Sickness. I don’t know where we all suddenly got the energy, but it’s like the night is starting again. We all move with a renewed vigour, determined to make this night last. “Firstly a few thank-you’s. Thank you to our fucking unbelievable crew. We’re just some idiots who show up and play, they’re the reason this is all possible, all the hard work is them. They’re our best friends. They’re amazing. Thank you to all of you. Who came when we started touring down here, God, maybe a decade ago?” A few cheers. “We love Melbourne! We have so many friends here. The only person I know for sure who was here was a very young John Floreani.” As a good Novocastrian, I cheer until my vocal cords rip. I love you, Trophy Eyes. “And a special thank you to our all-round tech, Danny. It was his birthday yesterday.” Danny comes out and offers himself willingly to do a Shooey. He sacrifices himself on the Altar of Australian Tradition for his birthday. And we are so grateful. We go mental. “What a fucking legend!!!”

Then, they really do have two songs left. “This one’s for all the small-town heroes. But you can all get involved.” I cheer, the guys in front of me cheer, and the whole crowd starts to headbang as Can’t Kick Up the Roots pummels through the speakers. “We’re so grateful to have been from a small town, and to have never forgotten that, and not changed too much. But even more than that, we are so grateful we were given the opportunity to perform for, what? A couple thousand of you? It just doesn’t seem possible. Thank you. If you’re going to buy merch tonight, buy merch from our support act; Yours Truly. Give those smaller, local bands some love. It means more than you know.”

Yours Truly are a Sydney pop-punk band, keeping up with the OG-greats. If you’re a fan of Avril Lavigne, Paramore, or any of those 2000s gems – they’ll be right up your alley. The way High Hopes absolutely rocked the crowd at The Forum is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Female-led and unbelievably tight, they are taking that baton and running with it. Barlow puts it best. “Put them on during your next car ride, you just might find your new favourite band.” Even only catching the tail end of their set was other worldly. It just makes you want to dance, to let loose, to live the sort of teenager-dom they show in the movies. Let’s go, Australia, you’ve got something good here, let’s show them the love they so deserve.

Finishing with In Bloom, is just perfection. Not only is it one of my favourite, not just Neck Deep songs, but emo songs in general, it winds us down perfectly. It’s walked me down from my worst breakups, and it’s hyped me up on bus rides, keen for whatever comes next in life.

“I can try, but sometimes that is not enough. No, that is not enough.”

A singular chorus of screams, tangled bodies. Trying on our own is not enough, we need to lean on each other.

“You’re the only voice I want to hear in my head.”

All I want to hear, forever and ever, is Barlow’s insane vocals, the squeals of joy from the pop-punkers next to me, and our Anthems of Perseverance.

This song offers some of the best breakup advice there is.

“We’re never going to put the pieces back together, if you won’t let me get better.”

We need the time to heal, from life, from Rupert Murdoch, from being hit in the back of the head by some girl in platform Doc’s who just tried her hand at crowd surfing. We heal better together. We heal better moshing. We heal better screaming. We heal better with Neck Deep.

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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!


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

Wednesday, 6 September
Tickets thru Ticketek

Friday, 8 September
Tickets thru Moshtix

Tuesday, 12 September
Tickets thru Ticketek

Wednesday, 13 September
Tickets thru Ticketmaster

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Extreme and Living Colour Set to Rock Australia with Upcoming Tour

Extreme, the multi-platinum hard-rock heroes, have announced their highly-anticipated return to Australia for the first time in 5 years, and this time they are bringing their friends Living Colour to join them in celebration. This electrifying show will mark the 30th anniversary of Living Colour‘s album Stain and the release of Extreme‘s new album, Six

Get ready to be blown away by the exceptional live music from two of the most influential and talented rock bands of our time. Extreme, comprised of Gary Cherone (vocals), Nuno Bettencourt (guitar), Pat Badger (bass), and Kevin Figueiredo (drums), is known for their dynamic approach to music, swinging between unapologetic hard rock and introspective balladry. With over 10 million records sold and a Billboard Hot 100 No.1 hit, they are undoubtedly one of rock’s most unpredictable, undeniable, and unbreakable groups.

Living Colour, spearheaded by Vernon Reid, emerged onto the scene in 1984 with a creative fusion of free jazz, funk, hard rock, and heavy metal. Their debut album Vivid reached No.6 on the Billboard Albums chart and eventually became a multi-platinum success. Their follow-up album, Time’s Up, won them a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1991. Since then, Living Colour has remained an active unit, releasing two albums of new material and receiving raves for their incendiary live performances.

Don’t miss the chance to witness the undeniable firepower and chemistry of Extreme and Living Colour on stage as they take you on a journey with their electrifying performances. This is an event you won’t want to miss, so book your tickets now for an epic night of music.


Tickets on sale Friday 21st April at 10.00am local time



Wednesday 6th September

Regal Theatre, Perth

Tickets through Ticketek

Friday 8th September

Hindley Street, Adelaide

Tickets through Moshtix

Sunday 10th September

The Forum, Melbourne

Tickets through Ticketek


Tuesday 12th September

Enmore Theatre, Sydney

Tickets through Ticketek

Wednesday 13th September

Fortitude Music Hall, Brisbane

Tickets through Ticketmaster

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