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[Review] KISS @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne 20/8/2022

The wait has been long, and the KISS Army have been patiently biding their time, finally the day was upon us and the time was NOW! KISS are literally the hottest band in the world right now, and while that mantra has followed them for almost 50 years there has never been a truer statement.  The KISS juggernaut has been a staple in almost every Australian home, in my case they even had their own dedicated room! Hugely loved and welcomed with open arms every single time they touch down, their fans are loyal and fiercely devoted which makes the experience of a KISS concert memory to treasure forever.

As I made my way towards Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne for the first show of the End Of The Road Australian tour, surrounded by my fellow KISSaholics, the ripples of excitement were brewing. There were painted faces, KISS T-shirts for miles, and families bringing their kids along to witness what would be the show of a lifetime. I took my spot on the floor, ready to get up close and personal with the band that has shaped my musical life. I felt overwhelmed with excitement and emotion, The End Of The Road is just that and I am not sure that I was ready to say goodbye just yet. But alas, I was glad I was there to soak up every bit of the tour, surrounded by like-minded fans all there to bask in KISS glory.

Melbourne hard rock outfit Dead City Ruins nabbed the coveted opening slot on night one, playing to a sold-out arena and thousands of adrenaline-filled punters. I can only imagine the high they were riding on, and it sure did come alive during their set. Blasting through their songs they engaged with the crowd and put on an amazing show. If there was ever a band that was a walking advertisement for good hair care it was them, luscious locks aplenty as they shredded their set. Booming vocals from Steve Welsh had the crowd up and about, many wearing their merch and singing the songs. Being a local Melbourne band, it was fantastic to see such great support for them. They have a new album out next month and we were treated to a sample of what is to come. It is one you do not want to miss, go check them out, and you will be glad you did.

Now it was time to bring out the big guns and they come no bigger than KISS, the arena was electric, carrying its own pulse in anticipation. The start time came and went which added to the nervous tension, but as the lights dropped the roar was deafening. Lowering from the ceiling on pods, KISS appear belting out the classic Detroit Rock City, accompanied by pyro, flames, and a light show that left me speechless. I have seen KISS more times than I can count but I still cannot explain the overwhelming feeling of joy that they bring to each and every show.  It was a non-stop thrill ride as they smashed through Shout It Out Loud, Deuce, War Machine, and Heavens on Fire. The stage hid all sorts of party tricks that kept coming nonstop.  The heat from the flames was intense as Gene worked his magic during I Love It Loud, there was a lot of crowd participation, and came complete with the obligatory fire breathing display that we all know and love.  Cold Gin was Tommy Thayer’s time to shine as he ripped out his guitar solo and fired rockets across the stage. He has stepped into the Spaceman’s boots in a fluid movement and has looked at home from day dot.

Lick It Up was definitely a favourite and one that had Gene literally licking everything in sight with his trademark tongue out more than it was in. Gene Simmons, the backbone of KISS is such a consummate professional onstage, blasting his bass to within an inch of its life but always making sure the show runs like clockwork and every piece of the action is delivered one hundred percent every single time!  I hope that I can channel his energy when I am his age, he made me tired just watching last night, never taking a break, it was go go go from start to finish.  KISS always have, and always will, until that last show give it everything they have and leave nothing in the tank, that’s just how they roll.

The setlist was extensive covering most of the huge catalogue of albums, Dr Love, Do You Love Me, the hits just kept coming. Then as were saw a merge of Psycho Circus and 100,000 years, Eric Singer came to the forefront. His enormous drum kit catching the laser lights was a truly beautiful thing to see, his playing exemplary as always. Getting the crowd involved as he belted out a solo that echoed throughout the arena and had all eyes on him. Wowing the fans as he spun cymbals and sticks his drum riser raised to the roof and had everyone losing their minds, smoke pouring from underneath, it really was quite the spectacle.

Would it even be a KISS show if Gene did not spew forth blood during God Of thunder? Absolutely not, so we were all delighted when the green hue of lights and smoke swamped the stage and Gene treated us to his best ever party trick. Treating a lucky fan to his blood-spattered towel as he tossed it to the punters almost causing a riot. His riser taking high to the ceiling to watch over us as he sang, almost like a preacher with his congregation.

Frontman and KISS itself, Paul Stanley is still shaking his bootie with the best of them, playing his guitar over his head while giving us all a sexy shimmy. His stamina is undying as he jumped on a zip line to whizz across the venue to a second stage to play Love Gun and I Was Made For Loving You. The stage lighting up with disco balls and setting a bit of a frenzy amongst the fans, it is always a great one to sing along to and gets everyone jumping. Time to hear from Eric on vocals as Black Diamond rings out, it is one from the inception of KISS but still holds so much weight now in 2022. In classic KISS fashion, the drums rise again showcasing the cat motif and spinning pinwheels of sparks and explosions.

After a brief moment off the stage and cheers for more a stunning grand piano appears and Eric breaks into the beautiful ballad Beth, we are all singing along lighting up Rod Laver with our phone torches, knowing the night is getting close to being over and not being anywhere near ready for it.  Being like a second home for KISS, we are always treated to an exception to the regular setlist, last night it was Shandi, and what a sight it was as supersized KISS balloons rained down on us as they crooned the much-loved hit from Unmasked.

The drums started and that famous intro to Rock and Roll All Nite rang out, with smoke and confetti cannons on steroids we were awash with excitement and adrenaline as the boys brought it home.  We were answering the call as Paul worked us close to delirium, Rod Laver was heaving, and we were singing the oh-so-familiar lyrics I Wanna Rock and Roll All Nite and Party Every Day! The risers were headed to the sky with Gene and Tommy on board as Paul smashed his guitar and handed it over to one very lucky fan.  With more pyro and fireworks than New Year’s Eve, the show was over and we were left raw with emotion but on a high from the most amazing show of all time.

There are still a few tickets for the last Melbourne show on Tuesday night, and I recommend you grab them fast, believe me, this show will change your life. Then you too can wear your badge with pride and say you have earned your place in KISSTORY!

There will never be another band that can compare to KISS, their love and dedication to their loyal KISS Army have been ever present and all we can do is say thank you. Thank you for the music of our childhood, thank you for the music that shaped our lives, and thank you for being THE HOTTEST BAND IN THE WORLD EVERY SINGLE TIME!!!!

Tonight the play to another SOLD OUT show, but you still have a chance to catch them Tuesday MELBOURNE!!!!! 

Get your part of remaining tickets here : TUESDAY 22nd AUGUST 2022

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[Review] The Hu @ The Bridgeway Hotel, Pooraka 6/8/2022

A lot has happened since the last time Mongolian band The HU was in the country. Their first visit to Australia coincided with the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to some very uncertain times (to put it mildly) with a lot of restrictions suddenly popping up which had huge implications for the music industry. The HU was first in Australia as part of the 2020 Download Music Festival, which was canceled due to COVID at the very last minute, leaving them in the country to only perform a couple of their sideshow gigs. I attended one of these gigs at The Gov in Adelaide and little did I know at the time, that it would be the last proper gig I would see for quite some time. The venue capacity was reduced due to restrictions on the very day of the gig, leaving many ticketholders unable to attend the sold-out show, and one of the few phrases we heard the band speak in English that night was ‘fuck coronavirus!’

Two and a half years later, The HU is finally back in Australia, and under much less uneasy conditions.

For those not familiar with The HU, they certainly are a unique band. The band itself calls its genre ‘Hunnu Rock’, which is a mix of traditional Mongolian music and western metal. The band uses a combination of their traditional instruments including the morin khuur (or horsehead fiddle) and more typical rock instruments like the electric guitar, giving them a very distinctive sound.

This Adelaide gig was originally booked for the new Hindley Street Music Hall but with construction still underway, the show was moved to The Bridgeway Hotel.

Opening up the show was Brisbane’s The Blackwater Fever. I can’t imagine how you might find a suitable band to open up for The HU in Australia, given their unique genre, however, The Blackwater Fever supplied some tight bluesy garage rock which sat well with the packed venue’s crowd. Their set served as a fairly laid-back warm-up for the main act to come.

As the headliner’s set start time was approaching, I found my way down to the front of the stage. Despite the room being at capacity, there was a very relaxed vibe in the room. There didn’t seem to be the usual push and shove down at the front of the stage and it was quite easy to get a good spot without getting in anyone’s way. Looking around at the punters before the lights went down, there didn’t seem to be any clear demographic in attendance either. There wasn’t a ‘crowd type’ to be seen at all and it had me wondering how this large crowd had discovered The HU. 

Right on schedule, the lights dimmed, and the band entered the stage to rapturous applause, kicking off with a track called Shihi Hutu from their forthcoming new album Rumble of Thunder. This song showcased everything that the band is known for, sounding like an epic battle-cry anthem. Their traditional throat singing and morin khuur’s were used to great effect. In contrast, the second song of the set Shoog Shoog would have to be The HU’s most upbeat-sounding song with its almost danceable beat. Next up was the title track from the band’s debut The Gereg album, which showcased some of vocalist Jaya’s playing of the tumur hhuur (jaw harp).

As the band worked their way through their set of songs mostly from their debut and also from their album coming next month, I noticed how transfixed the crowd was by the band, despite the lyrics being in Mongolian and not being easy songs to sing along to. A lot of The HU’s songs have a hypnotic rhythm to them, and the appearance of the band is visually striking. On stage, the core members of the band are at the front of the stage. Gala, Enkush, Jaya and Temka all dressed in intricate leather, with their beautiful traditional Mongolian instruments are the focal point of the show. Seeing such different instruments being played is part of the appeal of The HU for me, and I’m sure for many others who have seen the band perform.

Behind the core members of the band are the members of the band who play the more typical western instruments and are considered the touring members of the band. Ono, Jamba, Davaa and Odko are all set back from the front of stage, playing guitar, bass, drums and percussion in the semi-darkness for a lot of the performance. With eight band members on stage, it’s this combined mix of traditions that gives The HU such a rich and distinctive sound.

Later in the set came the two songs that introduced the world to the band. Both Yuve Yuve Yu and Wolf Totem, when released, garnered millions of views on YouTube. It was the later re-recording of the latter song with Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix that was my introduction to the band. These two songs got a huge response from the crowd.

Rounding out the set were a couple of new songs, Black Thunder and This is Mongol both of which were released this year, preceding the rest of the new album.

After almost ninety minutes, the band took a bow and exited the stage. The crowd most certainly still wanted more so the band returned for the obligatory but well-deserved encore.

As the band arrived back on the stage, the now familiar sounds of the morin khuurs rang out before the electric guitar kicked in with the instantly recognisable riff of Metallica’s Sad But True. The Hu’s version of this song has got to be the perfect blend of western metal and traditional Mongolian folk instruments for sure and was a brilliant way for the band to bring the set to a close.

Although I was initially disappointed that this gig had been moved from a new city venue to an older suburban hotel, The Bridgeway did turn out to be a great place to relocate to. With the big stage and impressive light set-up, the sound and visuals of The HU were well showcased, and when it was all over and the house lights came on, there was a definite buzz in the room and there were a lot of smiling faces from punters who looked really happy to be back at big gigs once again.

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[Review] The Hu @ 170 Russell, Melbourne 03/08/2022

2 years ago, in the before times, The Hu were here, and were ready to play on the Download line up, then tragedy strikes, the plague times begin, and they get locked in Sydney for a couple of weeks. Now, they are back and hungry as ever to play for Australia and starting off their tour with 2 sold out Melbourne shows!

Rocking up to the line about 45mins early, a little later than normal for me, the line was already around the block and in the alley way behind the venue, people are keen as hell for this show! Doors open and the line moves reasonably quick for people heading straight to merch or the front of the venue for prime viewing, I manage to get my regular spot at 170 Russell, you’ve always got a regular spot for these types of things.

The Blackwater Fever take the stage right on time and straight from the opening chords, I’m hooked. This 3-piece Brisbane rock band sound like Sabbath if they were playing in the deep south instead of London. Think big sounding bluesy style riffs with a ton of reverb, a bassist that also plays keys and then add double that amount of reverb on the drums! Producing a massive sound and holding their own in the thick atmosphere they created, they entranced all watching and the rhythm took over to bring the people in and headbang. The Blackwater Fever prove the point that less is sometimes more, you don’t always need crazy intricate riffs to get people interested, these guys write a damn good tune and a killer opening band.

As The Hu crew set the stage with a drum kit, a percussion kit and then a totem raised in the middle of the stage as well for good measure, the crowd’s anticipation skyrockets. There are cheers, people start pushing to the front and all eyes are on the stage. The lights darken, music starts and The Hu storm the stage in their full leather gear and instruments in hand. What surprised me tonight was how close the music translates from recording to live, with the number of instruments changing on stage with one of the singers wearing a belt of flutes and the percussionist also had things changing every couple of songs as well, everything was audible. One of the main draws to The Hu is the traditional throat singing and vocal harmonies created, they did not disappoint. All members on stage have a microphone and the vocal mix is well done with only one of the main vocals being lower in the mix at some points but watching them sing together is nothing short of amazing.

The sheer happiness and excitement of the band is an energy that is room filling, they didn’t stop smiling or laughing to each other from start to finish. They are incredibly passionate about their music and culture and having that energy come back at them from the crowd, they couldn’t stop jumping and screaming “Thank you” and “Rock On” which were pretty much the only English sentences spoken by them. One of the main vocalists would occasionally have a quick little speech in their native tongue to be met with cheers or people looking around not knowing what was said but there was one girl who made the crowd laugh each time because each time he spoke in Mongolian, we would here “I farkin luv ya” in such a thick Aussie accent. The complete opposites in languages but I’m sure the sentiment was the same.

The crowd involvement for songs like Shoog Shoog, Yuve Yuve Yu and Wolf Totem was electric. The rhythms of this band just sent people dancing and singing. Ending the set on the latest singles Black Thunder and This is Mongo, the crowd and band are relentless, thriving off each other’s energy and getting a circle pit going. They come back for a sweet little encore with a cover of Metallica’s Sad But True and what a cover! What a great way to end the night!

For my first international band in about 18 months, what better way than to get back into it than with The Hu? I had high expectations for these guys, and they blew them out of the park! I hope the rest of the tour is as great as this was.

THE HU
Black Thunder Australia & NZ Tour 2022

Saturday, August 6: Bridgeway Hotel, Adelaide
(Previously Hindley Street Music Hall)
Sunday, August 7: The Roundhouse, Sydney Sold Out
Thursday, August 11: Powerstation, Auckland NZ Sold Out

For complete tour and ticket and information, visit: 
livenation.com.au, livenation.co.nzthehuofficial.com

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[Review] Thornhill @ 170 Russell, Melbourne 15/07/2022

This was my first pub gig since Covid struck and I was ridiculously excited as I descended the stairs to 170 Russell (or Billboards as it will always be to me and those of my era).  As I was arriving just as the first band on the bill, Banks Arcade was starting their set, I expected a thin crowd as you often see for the first band up on a bill of 4. So seeing the place heaving already was a very pleasant surprise and it also meant I had to elbow my way into my favourite spot at this venue.  Either Banks Arcade has a lot of mates, or everyone was as keen as me for a dose of live music and made sure to catch all the supports.

Banks Arcade is difficult to pigeonhole (if you like your music in neat little boxes).  Their 5 song set gave us everything from the dark, heavy electronica of Don’t Start, the Hip Hop/hardcore hybrid of Used, to the very poppy Sick (that had a very liberal nod to Amity Affliction’s pop/metalcore mix IMO).  Describing something as “Poppy” is an insult in my book, but I actually really like this track with its’ many parts, tempo, and mood changes.  These Kiwi transplants to Melbourne are definitely one to catch again.

I’m afraid I do not understand the appeal of full-on metalcore vocals so I could tell straight away, that I was going to have a bit of a hard time with Gravemind. But amongst the demonic vocals, was a bass that rattled the mirrors and made its’ way around the room via the floorboards and some very impressive lead breaks. Soundgarden they are not, but entertaining, musically proficient, and well appreciated by the crowd they were, even obliging with a circle pit on Billboards diminutive dance floor. 

Dayseeker had made the trip out from LA to support Thornhill on this tour and this was definitely appreciated by the enthusiastic crowd. Henceforth, their style of music shall be called ”Popcore” as this was definitely Hansen meets Sepultura.  There must be a “Metalcore 101” course out there somewhere as despite the obvious difference in style, the similarities in guitar and bass with Gravemind were unmistakable at times.  But unlike Gravemind, Dayseeker has one foot firmly in the Pop genre, making it a bit more palatable to this old bag.  I was reminded of Bullet for My Valentine with the liberal use of a double kick drum and metal guitar in The Colour Black and Crooked Soul and this is definitely to be encouraged.  The more I’ve listened to Dayseeker since Friday, the more I like ‘em.  You are welcome back in my city anytime.

I love atmospheric Aussie Pub Rock!  Stick me in a room with Karnivool, Cog, or Sleepmakeswaves and I’m a happy bunny, so I was very excited when I started checking out Thornhill prior to Friday night’s gig and felt the goosebumps breaking out all over.  But listening to a band on Spotify cannot always prepare you for the live experience and the experience of seeing Thornhill for the first time for me was one of having my tiny mind blown.  It is many years since I have seen a front man like Jacob Charlton. His vocals are perfectly suited to Thornhill’s brand of heavy atmospheric rock and he slipped seamlessly into an impressive falsetto on a number of tracks.  Resplendent in white singlet and a lovely pair of red driving gloves, often taking a backseat singing from the drum riser and letting bassist Nick Sjogren take the centre, he nevertheless OWNED it.  At times channeling Michael Hutchence with “stripper hips” moves and other times, Freddy Mercury stalking the stage with half a mike stand, this guy was mesmerizing.

Right, enough gushing.  Musically, Thornhill reminds me very much of a heavier Karnivool only more tightly crafted with less of Karnivool’s weird mucking around with the tempo in a song.  And despite my aforementioned dislike devil summoning, vocal cord destroying screamo vocals, the occasional use of them is acceptable in my opinion and can add a heavy edge (I luuurve me a bit of Bullet for My Valentine and they are masters at this) and I was not perturbed by their use in songs like Views from the Sun.  There was plenty of light and shade in this set with tracks like the near instrumental All the Light We Don’t See (the vocals don’t start until 1:10 on the album version) and Lily and the Moon sitting in contrast to the heavier tracks like Arkangel and Coven

Thornhill looks to have a busy time coming up as they have a dozen US shows supporting Erra immediately followed by a week of headline shows.  AND, they are supporting the wonderful Butterfly Effect on their Australian tour in October.  Jacob said at one point that 170 Russell was a venue they had always dreamed of playing.  I say, dream higher, as you guys are going places and I hope you don’t mind if I come along for the ride.

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[Review] Bad Moon Born @ Bendigo Hotel, Melbourne 03/06/2022

It’s been a fair while for me to be down at the Bendigo Hotel or to a local gig in general, I miss it! The crowd, the people, the music, and especially the technical difficulties when playing or setting up! This night had it all and a flood of memories just came back like an old man reliving the golden years!

I was on the way to the gig, and saw a post from Fight The Sun, Melbourne alternative rock band who were meant to be opening up tonight and these guys are unreal at what they do! It’s been ages since I’ve seen them play and I was really looking forward to seeing them again, “We are no longer playing due to illness” SHATTERED! That line is starting to come up a lot more these days and I see it as a good and a bad thing. It’s bad because people don’t want to be around illness/sickness and given the current social climate anyone with a cough becomes a leper *insert Monty Python quote*. The good side is that bands are actually giving themselves some self-care and not pushing themselves or risking a shitshow on a member’s health! Either way, they were sorely missed.

Hitting the Bendigo Hotel at 8 pm when doors open there is a steady flow of people, for about 30mins and then that’s pretty much it, the venue hits about a third to half full and doesn’t grow anymore. It’s a bit of a shame given that there are some pretty damn good bands playing tonight and each band put on a good set, even given their troubles, but more on that point later.

First is Cicadastone, a bluesy, southern rock-sounding band with a singer that dances around the Layne Staley vocal style. Compared to the other bands on the bill tonight, what Cicadastone lacked in speed or technicality, they owned the night on feel and groove, with an absolute tight set, showing off some new material from an upcoming release, and apparently, the singer’s son was playing the drums, which he nailed. It was a great way to start off the night, warming up the crowd for the things to come.

Coming up next was Live Like Animals. Starting a little late from a slower setup, understandably after hearing their set, I'm guessing with a complete electro/synth backing track that lasted the entire set, that could take a bit of setting up. 3 Piece Alt Metal band from Syndey with no bassist… it's always the bassist missing… These guys played an incredibly tight set for having a backing track go the entire time, they must really know their cues. They stepped up the energy to another level and got some more crowd involvement. With taking a little time to set up, you would think that sets would be adjusted to make sure that everything still runs smooth, around about the time they should have finished. The background music was put on, over the band, who was playing through inner ear monitors and had no idea that something else was being played over them. I didn’t hear or see any interaction between the sound guy and the stage but there was no communication, and that sort of thing can kill a mood in an instant. It was a shame that it ended a great set that way.

Now what happened next, I have no idea but I’ve seen Ironstone set up before, they are a younger modern metal or “djenty” as the kids call it, style band but they are yet again, a completely digital band, running through guitar pedal boards. They have always been quick to set up and tonight it looked like everything that could go wrong, went wrong. The band hit the stage and start setting up. Singer, Drummer, and Parent are setting up drums, guitarists and bassist are doing their thing. One guitarist finished setting up, “Cool, play something for me” sound comes through FOH and Foldback, thumbs up, Move on! The other guitarist finishes just after, the same thing DONE! The drummer lets the sound guy know about a backing track that is to be played. No Sound. Sound guy comes up, changes some leads, goes back, nope nothing. Let the back and forth begin, once this is complete, Bassist has no sound. Lead change. Seems to fix it. RIGHT! Band gives a test run; one guitar isn’t coming through anymore. “What?” changes a few settings, starts up, guitar back on, THE OTHER GUITARIST STOPS COMING THROUGH NOW! “What the hell is going on!?” Mind you this is now 20mins into Ironstones set and tension is rising. What looks like a complete rewire of the stage, Ironstone who was meant to come on at 10:10 pm starts at 10:45 pm. Ironstone came on for a 4 song set, they hit their 3rd and said “We’ve been Ironstone, Cheers!” but that was then met with “One more song guys!” from one of the members of the headlining act, good on them for being understanding. The shortened set was tight, but the mix wasn’t great on them, they didn’t really get to break into a rhythm and find their spot sonically. The long changeover and muck around killed the flow of the night, unfortunately. I’m not 100% sure on what happened here but whether leads or something wasn’t connected properly but one thing would work and then something else would stop, it was insane to watch.

Ironstone, jump off the stage, thanking/apologizing to the headliners as they change places. Bad Moon Born start setting up and yet again, some leads were working and others weren’t, it didn’t look like it was just an Ironstone problem. Mics were changed, a bit more movement from the sound guy, definitely earning his money tonight, but given a reasonable changeover, lights are dimmed and Bad Moon Born shows us the reason they are headliners for tonight! They come on with looks that fit the name, all in black, jackets on, the singer is even wearing aviator sunnies, how much more rockstar can you get? After their first song, they thank the bands beforehand then get everyone to give it up for the sound guy, every band should make that a thing, it’s always appreciated by them, and they always try and make sure every show runs smooth. The crowd instantly get into it, mind you, it still never grew than about half, which is a shame cause these guys were good! They played covers of Billie Eilish's Bad Guy and NSYNC’s It’s Gotta Be Me, which the whole place was singing and dancing along to. The Bad Guy cover was great, it's already a darker track and they made it even darker again, and then who doesn’t love a good NSYNC cover song, it’s pretty clear they had fun working on them and everyone listening to it had a blast. The set ended with a feature from the singer of Future Static for duet, which everyone got into and was singing back.

Overall, with the mishaps of technical difficulties and the ups and downs of shortened sets, all bands played great sets. These things happen and it should be reminded to anyone that reads this who is in a band, make sure you thank the sound guy, they put up with so much shit, and having friends who do live sound cop it or just go un-thanked, you don’t know how much it's appreciated and the band is remembered by them when it does happen. Now we just need more people to remember that live music is coming back and start attending local shows, but one thing at a time I guess.

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[Review] Black Veil Brides @ The Gov, Adelaide 04/07/2022

Initially scheduled for 2020, it seemed like longer than two years for this gig to come around! The first date was canceled like many other gigs at the time were, due to covid 19. Then, in 2021, the re-scheduled gig was canceled due to the ongoing restrictions making it impossible to bring an overseas band into the country for a big show still. Then, just when things were looking good for attempt number three, with just days to go…there was a case of covid 19 within the band’s inner circle, forcing yet another postponement!

Finally, by the 4th of July, the band was officially in the country on tour, and it was Adelaide’s turn to finally see the Black Veil Brides up close at The Gov.

By the time the day of the gig arrived, it felt almost too good to be true and I half expected it to be called off at the last minute. Thankfully when I turned up at the venue, I saw the biggest lineup I’ve ever seen outside The Gov. The line seemed to snake down the road for miles and I wondered how they could possibly fit everyone inside. Word was out that this was a sell-out show but there still seemed to be many more people there than I had imagined.

By the time I got inside, support act Wolf and Chain had already started their set. Their self-proclaimed emo style was going down perfectly with the mostly twenty-somethings crowd. Reminiscent of Panic! At the Disco or Taking Back Sunday, Wolf and Chain’s high-energy set seemed a good fit for the crowd in attendance. My observations so far regarding the tastes of the crowd seemed to be vindicated when right after this opening set, the whole room sang along word for word to My Chemical Romance’s Black Parade as it rang out from the DJ booth. This sure seemed to be a crowd who were keen to make up for lost time and make the most of this long-awaited event.

So far, the night had been running right on schedule. The headliners were due at 9 pm and sure enough, as soon as I noticed it was time, the lights went out to announce the arrival of the Black Veil Brides. As each member of the band arrived on stage, there was a huge roar from the crowd. When front-man Andy Biersack entered last, it sounded like an arena-sized crowd as opposed to the large club that we were actually in. Opening with Faithless from their 2014 self-titled album, the band matched the crowd with an arena-worthy performance right from the start. Guitarists Jinxx and Jake worked the entire stage, snaking around past each other, combining synchronized moves for effect when needed. Andy, despite sounding like he had a little croak in his voice at times, was the consummate front-man, commanding the attention of the room and managing to perform to every pocket of the audience spread throughout the venue.  The band worked their way through a very high-energy set that covered the band’s career from Knives and Pens from their 2010 debut, through to Scarlett Cross from their latest album The Phantom Tomorrow. Relatively new bassist Lonny Eagleton held down the bottom end of the sound and looked as though he fit in well, managing to swap stage positions often seamlessly with Jinxx from opposite ends of the stage as though they had worked together for much longer than they actually have. There was very little chatter from Andy between songs as the band worked their way through the set-list, however, he did draw attention to a fan in the crowd who had apparently been to every Australian show so far and had apparently asked them earlier why they never played their song Stolen Omen. The band decided to give it a quick run-through during soundcheck and added it to the set as per the fan’s request. Later in the set came Wretched and Divine from the album of the same name and Fallen Angels from their Set the World on Fire album (two of my personal favourites). At this point, the band said their goodbyes and exited the stage. This must-have given drummer Christian Coma some relief as there had been no lull in the set at any point and he’d been smashing the drums like a madman the entire time.

After the short obligatory break with the crowd demanding, ‘one more song!’ the band returned to the stage to finish the night with the aptly titled In the End to close the show.

As soon as this song was over, the band exited the stage for the final time, the house lights came on, and everyone shuffled their way outside to head home.

I’m sure there were a lot of people at this gig feeling satisfied with the night’s performance and relieved that it had finally happened. Personally, I felt it was a great performance and definitely worth the wait but it certainly could have gone on for quite a while longer. With six full-length albums released, there was no shortage of great songs from the Black Veil Brides back catalogue to fill a set longer than the hour played during this show. Now that the world appears to be somewhat back to normal again, here’s hoping we see the band back in Australia again soon with a longer set.

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[Review] I, Prevail @ Big Top Luna Park, Sydney – 28/06/2022

Every time you visit Luna Park, it is a memorable occasion. The massive Sydney Harbour Bridge stands tall above you, the harbour stretching over the horizon, studded with distinctive ferries, and in the distance, the lights of the CBD glimmer. 

In my opinion, approaching Luna Park’s iconic visage never becomes old. Sadly, there is where the walking comes to an end. Around the merry-go-round and to the foot of the mouth, a line of music lovers forms. We are not given an explanation for why the line is so lengthy and remains so long after the show has begun. 

Due to the delay entering the venue, I miss the only Australian band on the bill, Windwaker. Yet from the volume of their shirts in the crowd, all signs point to them winning over many. I made sure to turn on alerts for their next Sydney show to make up for tonight. 

Scanning the crowd this evening there is a real melting pot of hardcore, goths, cyber girls, metalheads and very normal-looking music fans who more than likely came directly from work due to it being a Tuesday night and Sydney’s battle with train strikes. As this show was originally scheduled for 2020, not a single ticket holder was missing out on tonight finally receiving the green light. 

The first of 2 international artists are Pennsylvanian metal titans Motionless in White. Their blood-splattered backdrop hangs prominently as the floor fills with anticipation, and it is packing tight.

The lights descend as the very ominous intro to Disguise emits through the room.  Lead singer Chris Motionless, already a very tall guy, stands on a case at the front of the stage towering over the crowd inciting a huge sing-along to the chorus.
I am blown away by how close this sounds to the recorded version.

No time is wasted as they catapult into Necessary Evil in which the album version features Jonathan Davis from Korn. Second guitarist Ryan is missing, and after a quick social media scan, I cannot find any reason as to why. We hope he is ok!

The band’s theatrical make-up and clothing lift the performance, creating a more dramatic and sinister feel. I’m a sucker for a goth get-up.

Even with a member down, they have the excited crowd in the palm of their hand and as the floor bounces to Thoughts and Prayers, my jaw drops to the floor as I turn to my partner and exclaim ‘another band has to follow this!!’. At this point, I am not sure it is possible.

After a long 5 years since we have seen Motionless on our shores, they are humble and thankful at the reception as they blast through Cyberhex, Reincarnate, and Voices.

The intensity in which drummer Vinny Mauro is assaulting the skins is astonishing, more so that they’re still in one piece! It ricochets throughout the venue and every organ. Bass player Justin Morrow is a fantastic singer and compliments Chris perfectly.

A mix of technical difficulties and vocal strains hinder the tail end of the performance as Chris is obviously struggling but doing a terrific job keeping the crowd happy. Earlier seamless transitions between screaming and clean vocals take a bit of a dive.

For the second last show on the tour, in winter and being a road dog, we can only sympathize!

Having released an album on June 10th, it was nice and fresh as we Aussies are some of the first to hear the new material live. Scoring the End of the World is the new track selected, with many in the crowd already knowing the words.
Closing out the set with the beloved song Eternally Yours they morph into the Boyz II Men of metal handing out long stem red roses to lucky punters close enough to reach.

It was a fantastic set of crowd-pleasers; I’m looking forward to a headline tour of theirs hopefully one day soon.
From the reception, Motionless In White received I was unsure if everyone would be sticking around for the headliner. I am promptly proven wrong.

The stage has transformed as the members fill the stage; it looks stunning! Lead singer Eric Vanlerberghe storms to the front of the stage to begin powerhouse track Bow Down. I, Prevail are a newly discovered band of mine, and I was not aware there were two lead singers. You can imagine my excitement when Brian Burkheiser, who mostly takes care of the clean vocal’s leaps from the depths for the chorus.

They waste no time kicking off Gasoline from 2019’s Trauma, an album jam-packed with hits, I’m hopeful we’re in store to hear many of this evening.

The entire band commands the stage like pros as they cruise through tracks such as Scars, DOA, and crowd favourite Hurricane. While Eric takes care of the lows, and Brian the highs, I’m amazed to see them lower their mics and allow guitarist Dylan a chance to sing and he’s just as good as they are!
Rise Above It appeals to the fighter spirit within, I see people hoisted onto shoulders to sing it loud. This song also holds another talent of the singers, they can rap!
Brand new single Body Bag was recently released on June 17th, resulting in Australians being lucky firsts (just as we were for Motionless) to hear the track live. It is heavy, it’s fast, and just what the pit needs. A shout-out is needed to the lighting crew, just spectacular!
At this point, the crowd would do anything they are told, the energy is electric! A few songs earlier, one of the souls on a friend’s shoulders smashed a shoey in true Aussie fashion. Eric seeks out this bloke to join him in another. There is nothing we love more than seeing internationals take part in this disgusting tradition. 

Their songs are connecting on a deeper level tonight. While we have all been missing live performances, we forget how much of an impact the last few years have placed upon artists. After a short drum solo by skinsman Gabe Helguera the lights soften as a solo Eric walks slowly on-stage performing Goodbye, which may only be a short interlude on their album, yet it flows perfectly into Breaking Down.  Brian takes a moment to speak from the soul. Detailing how hard the lockdown was on him and that he almost gave up, and it was his family in the band that pulled him through. Not only did he speak from the soul, but he is also singing from the soul, the lyrics are pouring from an honest and pure place. I am truly moved. 

The energy is restored with Deadweight a heavy track with a fantastic chorus that the entire venue joins in before the band exit the stage. Earlier that day I saw a meme that said, ‘encores are peekaboo for adults’, as I tell my friends around me about it, Eric returns to the stage saying ‘PEEKABOO’. I had no words. 

With six sold-out gigs, the band is grateful to everyone who came out. Even as the pit splits in two, they continue to rile us up by shouting, “You need to give us a reason to return.”
Come and Get It is the evening’s closing track. Eric tosses in a cheeky ‘Oh wah ah ah ah’ from Down With The Sickness, which instantly makes everyone in the venue smile. The band flies around, side to side, even flipping each other off; there’s a real sense of camaraderie among them, and they’re taking in every minute just like we are.

Throughout I, Prevail’s set, I took up my phone to take notes for this review. I could only stand and watch, unable to put my experience in words.

I was absolutely blown away.

Even without knowing many songs, I enjoyed every moment and the journey on which the songs took us was unforgettable.

Do not sleep on I, Prevail. They are a force to the reckoned with and cannot return soon enough. 

Their new album True Power will be released on August 19th through Fearless. 

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[Review] Northlane @ Enmore Theatre, Sydney 23/06/2022

While standing in the crowd of Northlane’s sold-out show at Enmore Theatre, you can see how many people's ears’ around Australia pricked up when Northlane announced they would be touring the country again, as brought to us with many thanks to the remarkable team at Destroy All Lines.

You can see how much Northlane has grown as a band over the years, having become a universal band across many different groups of people across all of Sydney with an extremely diverse fanbase, possibly the most diverse fanbase we’ve seen at any metal gig.

The anticipation was building while Plini played as the supporting act right before Northlane came on. Northlane showed their support for Plini in return by bringing out a birthday cake onto the stage for Plini, to blow out his candles as the entire venue sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to both the bands on stage together.

Plini performed a dreamy melodic sound with heavy jent tones building into strong metal riffs and back again into the melodic softness. You could see the crowd really appreciated them with hands in the air and cheers of support throughout their set and ending with a huge cheer from the entire crowd.

As Plini finished up their set you could feel the eagerness growing in the crowd for what was to come next. The venue was buzzing with energy. Fans who didn’t know each other began asking each other about what they hoped would be played as part of the set and you can’t help but sense how sorely missed Northlane has been in the Sydney crowd for the past few years.

The first song played on the night can sum up the vibe of the entire show with the first 89 seconds of the opening song ‘Clarity’ from their new album Obsidian sounding off with building techno music with dreamy melodic vocals before erupting into heavy metal at 90 seconds in; opening the first pit of the night with the pent up energy of every Northlane fan who had been waiting years to see them live since the pandemic and what came through, was wall to wall explosive energy.

As the futuristic light show illuminated the entire venue with coloured lasers flying over heads into the back wall of the venue with coloured smoke floating in the purple lights with flame cannons launching into the air, Northlane led the show forward with their next song ‘Plenty’ and it was exactly just that, plenty. Within the first 30 seconds of the song, the crowd exploded again, feeling into the music as much as the band was.

Northlane gave their all to the crowd for the entire duration of the show and the crowd gave it right back, with Marcus Bridges sounding even better live than he does on the record, with the crispest cleans and deepest growls we’ve heard from him yet.

Echo Chamber” was the third song of the night and it fully delivered on the techno-neon show expectations Northlane shared with fans as their intentions for the tour with impeccable production value delivered throughout the show.

Nic Pettersen was playing the drums tighter than a bank safe even per the new drumming style that their new album, Obsidian, called for him to adopt.

Our favourite Northlane hits such as Bloodline from ‘Alien’ and Quantum Flux from album ‘Singularity’ played into the night and as they did, every fan there lived their old-time favourites that made Northlane the deeply loved band they are today. The crowd also followed the charge into the techno-metal future that Northlane is leading with their latest album Obsidian as they explore and pioneer a new space in the metal genre.

The show finished up with everyone in the venue calling Northlane back out to the stage for an encore and the final song played was ‘Clockwork’.

The entire show consisted of techno elements that were supported by the mind-blowing futuristic neon light show that all seamlessly tied in perfectly with the notes of Jon Deiley and Josh Smith on the jent guitars, rocking the entire venue wall-to-wall.

Each song surpassed the quality of the recordings that made us all love them, making this gig something unmissable for every Northlane fan out there.

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[Review] The Bronx @ Crowbar, Sydney 22/05/2022

A cold, dreary, raining night is enough to deter many from the most exciting events. Partnered with a Sunday night, you have a recipe for disaster.
The die-hard Sydney rock fans have completely missed that memo because the Crowbar is filled to the brim this evening, with wide smiles and beers in hand. 

Tonight, we welcome back The Bronx, a punk rock band hailing from Los Angeles, California.
They have been mighty good to Australians over the years, visiting often, releasing plenty of material and even multiple stops in the same city as tonight is show #2 in the same venue. 

Joining The Bronx this evening is Sydney’s off the rails younger brother’s Totally Unicorn. Their energy is unrivalled by most and ensures the crowd is left smiling (and a little confused) at every show, tonight is no exception. 

For $40 you are not usually treated to two international acts, but that is what we got served!
West London’s five-piece Chubby and the Gang, have built their reputation for fast-paced shows that are gone almost as quickly as they begin. They reminded me of the old school snotty English punk, although performed with incredible musicianship. Their brand of no apologies English punk makes me smile imagining this show in a filthy underground venue in their hometown. 

As someone who is used to weekend party shows, I am surprised when the lights go down before 9 pm. The headliner has arrived!

Tribal drumming fills the venue as the band enters the stage one by one. There are no egos, they all walk out ready to work and have a good time.

Vocalist Matt stands at the helm with his signature smile declaring ‘night two, just for you!’.
Is he lulling us into a false sense of security? Absolutely.

A scream erupts from deep within to kick off Heart Attack American and the crowd does not miss a beat to set off a pit. 

His ability to switch between their heavy songs to more melodic is seamless. They waste no time launching into well-known tracks such as Shitty Future, I Got Chills and White Shadow. Guitarist Ken Horne’s view is disrupted by a large stack of speakers but his tone through said speakers is undeniable, the band are tight and plays every song like true professionals.  

A few of the members did a guest DJ set in the venue the night before, after their first Sydney performance. My brother attended and reported that Matt was hoping that night tonights will be the most hungover show they have ever played.
As the band take a quick beer break, he tells the story of stumbling out of the same venue at 4 am resulting in him questioning every life choice later in the day. He raises his beer to the weekend warriors who are returning to work the very next day. Thanks, Matt, you’re the best. 

The Bronx’s music is already so much fun recorded, but live it is a different monster. With big catchy choruses and ‘Woah Oh’s’ that the crowd can join in on really bring the energy in the room up a notch. Superbloom takes off with speed and precision, and guitarist and founder Joby keeps the crowd in the palm of his band.  

The honour system joined the party as singer Matt tells the crowd ‘If you weren’t here last night, you must crowd surf to the next song’. As all Californians do, the next song is dedicated to their home, Los Angeles. We return to their 2003 album for They Will Kill Us All (without mercy) to the crowd’s delight. Arms and legs are seen thrown around the crowd as they are doing what they are told and the crowd surf throughout the small venue. After 20 years as a team, the band have not lost an ounce of energy, vitality, or integrity, with the group still throwing everything into tonight’s performance. 

Former Queens of the Stone Age drummer Joey Castillo, a heavy hitter, brings a huge new dimension to older tracks such as Six Days a Week as well as their newer, more rock ‘n’ roll numbers. If Matt could stand still for a moment, Joey could take out the title of the hardest-working member on the stage, it’s a close one! The set is rounded out by Around The Horn off 2006’s The Bronx (II), as the band exits the stage. The energy is still high and the house lights are not yet on, the encore chants begin and within minutes the band return with fresh beers and even bigger smiles. 

There are a few songs in my mind that I know they have not played yet and greatly looking forward to. Although we are taken by surprise as The Bronx treat us to a Motorhead cover that they have never played before. Their take on Over the Top could make an unknowing listener believe it’s one of their own. As the opening notes of Knifeman are pronounced, we must come to terms that this is the final song. Thankfully, it’s dragged out to allow the crowd and the band to soak up every last moment of this fantastic evening.  

The band bid us farewell, leaving everyone hungry for more. Their last album The Bronx IV was only released last year, yet with how frequently they produce material; we can only hope new work and new dates are announced sooner rather than later. There are a handful of shows left on this tour across the country before they hop over to visit our kiwi mates.
Make sure you get down to a show and have a hell of a time! 

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