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[Review] The Paper Kites – Forum Theatre, Melbourne 21/06/2024

Friday 21st June. The shortest day of the year and a full moon was illuminating the night sky, but thankfully it hadn’t brought the crazies out as I strolled through the city with my friend to catch The Paper Kites at The Forum. The five-piece outfit that originally hail from Melbourne have been touring Australia for the last month, off the back of their world tour which has had them taking their music far and wide around the globe. The theatre was slowly filling as we ventured in and settled into a standing position down toward the front of the stage. The crowd was made up of a specific age group, with majority of punters being loved up couples who were clearly there for date night. To kick the evening off and set the vibe for the night was Australian singer songwriter, Hannah Cameron. Hannah did a beautiful solo set, and with just her guitar in hand and 2 backing vocalists, she managed to hold the crowd at attention where you could’ve heard a pin drop. She navigated her set effortlessly, ensuring the audience were thoroughly entertained and now in the zone.

It wasn’t long between sets before The Paper Kites entered the stage to an excited round of applause from the intimate crowd, and then took their seated positions. Between the Houses was the first cab off the rank, and the quiet acoustic sound with the subtle pedal steel layer instantly put the audience into a trance-like state. Till The Flame Turns Blue would have you believing that the band were from the likes of Nashville or Texas with their unique sound that appears to be heavily influenced by bands that hail from these areas. Lead vocalist Sam Bentley then greeted the room and let us know how thrilled the band were to be playing in their hometown. This was the second last night of the tour before it wraps up, and they were equally as stoked to be playing in one of their favourite venues in the world. To be fair, The Forum is an absolutely incredible theatre and I think any musician would be honoured to grace its stage, with the walls soaked with the music of the legends that have played their previously, the building certainly has a story to tell.

Bentley explained that this tour came about after the band set up camp in a little town called Campbell’s Creek at the local roadhouse which they managed to turn into a bar. The first gig they played there attracted 5 people, until word finally got around town that the band were in residence in which they were then playing to a packed house. When we were told the next song was Hurts So Good, my friend Anna and I looked at one another with sheer excitement thinking were being treated to the John Cougar Mellencamp track. But our bogan dreams were shattered when we were told that in fact, no, this song wasn’t to be confused with Mellencamp’s hit. We definitely weren’t disappointed with this track though. I had to laugh that every thought I had and shared with Anna was then completely validated by the band. Looking around the room you could see the loved-up couples feeling each song, and then others that had that look on their face that this music was the soundtrack to a breakup where they laid in bed eating ice cream listening to The Paper Kites on repeat. The band were then joking around saying that their music is for sad people and couples and has the ability to have couples thinking they’re safe, until they leave their show then questioning if they’re with the right person. A sense of humour goes a long way when you’re the frontperson of a band, and Bentley certainly ticks all those boxes. He then cheekily dedicated the next song, Nothing More Than That, to all the sad folk and the doubting couples. The crowd absolutely loved this, and when bandmate Christina Lacy took over on vocals during the song, the crowd well and truly showed their appreciation.

Green Valleys kept up the melancholy mood, whilst Tenenbaum had drummer, Josh Bently picking up the harmonica to contribute another beautiful layer to the track. Another song from their latest album At The RoadhouseI Don’t Want to Go That Way – had the crowd conjure up a collective sway as we were all still completely hypnotised by this magical musical fog that had infiltrated all our bodies and minds simultaneously. The band then all rose from their seats and gathered around an old school ear trumpet Delphina microphone, and the whole vibe had us all placed at the Ryman Auditorium in 1950’s Nashville watching the Grand Ole Opry. They then kicked off with their massive hit Bloom, and the crowd went absolutely wild when the plucked guitar intro rang out. This was such a special, intimate and moving moment as the crowd sang along to every word, and the look of pure joy and appreciation emanated from the band.  

June’s Stolen Car then picked up the pace with its electric guitar intro, and when guitarist David Powys hit us up with his vocals, this sent everyone into an excited spin. This song was undoubtedly one of my personal favourites of the night. The band kept up the musical adventure with Without Your Love, Good Nights Gone, and then Black & Thunder kicked in with its funky beat and almost sultry blues feel that had my body moving before I could even realise. The band then hit us up with an Adrienne Lenker cover, Anything, in which Bentley acknowledged that she is one of the best lyricists around and that they hoped to do the song justice. I can guarantee that that’s indeed what they did. For the last song of the night, Paint, the group once again came to the forefront of the stage and gathered around the Delphina. There was a collective happy sigh in perfect unison from the audience once the intro started, and this song was another crowd favourite.

We were then wished good night before the stage was emptied and the audience were left wanting and weren’t going to budge an inch until they got a bit more magic. The stage lights faded up so the band could deliver the encore goods, and the moving sound of By My Side placated the audience whilst also providing ALL the goosebumps. Electric Indigo closed off the show beautifully and by the look on everyone’s faces, not a single a person had a bad time.

The Paper Kites have achieved something very clever – whether its consciously or not – but their band name describes their musical style perfectly. Their songs sneak into your brain bringing an overwhelming sense of calm, before making you feel like you are in fact a paper kite, floating aimlessly in the sky with the warm sun on your face and not a care in the world. Their music is honestly just what your soul needs sometimes, no matter the mood you’re in or your usual musical preferences. At the end of the gig, I passed a poor distraught lady who thought she may have popped her knee out. Whilst this obviously wasn’t funny, I couldn’t help but be amused at the irony of the fact that of all the gigs in the world you could sustain an injury at in hectic moshpits or otherwise, it was at the most mellow gig imaginable. The band had joked earlier in the evening that they had attracted a crowd surfer once when they were in Salt Lake City, but despite this funny anecdote I don’t think this woman had tried to give it a go. With flawless harmonies, and instruments that sing and appear to be an extension of the human playing them, this was certainly a show for the books and a wonderfully unique experience.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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