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[Review] Ghost @ John Cain Arena 04/10/2023

Whether you’re a Christian, Satanist, Pagan, or devote your life to any spiritual realm, it has always been clear to me the Ghost has always reached diverse audiences around the world. The satanic aesthetic created by Papa Emeritus IV and his cult of Nameless Ghouls has always drawn my wandering eyes to fix on them, whilst also seducing my ears to their incredible sound. Seeing this group live amongst the face-painted and costume clad fans was a sight to worship.

After a slightly delayed wait with a holy voices of a cathedral choir echoing from behind the white drapes that concealed the stage, the opening acoustic licks of Imperium were almost drowned out by the screaming of the packed John Cain Arena, all before the silhouette of a certain axe-shredding ghoul appeared colossal on the white curtain as he jammed the upbeat opening riff to Kaisarion. The curtains dropped whilst the ghouls brought on an anthem for Papa himself to grace the stage, blessing us with iconic vocals that you could identify in a second.

A quintessential Ghost performance is always nothing short of a jaw-dropping spectacle, from the set design of a cathedral depicting at first holy imagery on stained class to later depict hellish imagery towards the climax of the show, all the way down to the light-work that perfectly complimented the backdrop of each individual track, an example being the appropriate deep red as the opening of Year One chanted the many names of our favourite horned red man: 

“BELIAL. BEHEMOTH. BEELZEBUB. ASMODEUS. SATANAS. LUCIFER”

But despite each nameless ghoul getting moments to shine throughout the show, it’s obvious who the prominent character was, as Papa Emeritus had all of our eyes completely glued to him from start to finish. As highlighted previously, his vocal style and genius lyricism has cultivated its own powerful authenticity and has been become iconic within the music community let alone the rock/metal genres, reaching its height especially in the slower yet still hard tracks like Cirice and Call Me Little Sunshine. His swift costume changes were also a sight to behold, as each short interval between each track had him emerging with something new, including a steampunk top-hat, shadow-casting bat wings, his of course iconic elegant and gothic Pope outfit, all the way down to his shining red and blue “after show jackets”.

The humour and banter between the band members never failed to make me chuckle, from Papa’s charismatic humour between songs or the playful scolding of either of the soloing guitarists. We even received a cameo from a longtime Ghost character, Papa Nihil, emerging disorderly from a glass box to performing an earth shattering saxophone solo during Miasma, right before Papa uses this to segway into the next track in which “Nihil sings”, this track being the iconic Mary On A Cross, and it matters not whether you were a ghost fan before this track circled the world, or became a fresh listener of the band after the track’s popularity across TikTok, there’s no doubt every soul in the arena belted every single lyric, myself included. 

As the climax approached, Papa gave a little speech in appreciation of the community and support all before announcing the final song for the night, Respite on the Spitefields, before Ghost departed the stage….all for a short while before Papa re-emerged in response to the call-out of the audience, bantering over being told about us “expecting a classic rock show with an encore”. The charismatic frontman agreed to the crowd’s demand for three more songs (not too fond of a front row “crazy lady’s” suggestion of five songs), before the lights revealed the remaining ghouls in the darkness kicking off the encore with the ever risqué Kiss the Go-Goat. The remaining two songs required our strengthened necks for head banging and dancing shoes, for the lights radiated and glimmered with a colourful disco palate for the upbeat Dance Macabre, transitioning ever so smoothly alongside a final thanks from Papa Emeritus into the enigmatic yet powerful Square Hammer, in which the volume of the opening riff had to compete with the screams of the crowd one final time. 

As Ghost finally departed from the stage and instructing us to “fuck off” as well, I was positively buzzing for the rest of the night, as I had been apart of a mass ritual that I will not forget anytime soon, a ritual which should be experienced at least once in a lifetime…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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[Review] King Stingray @ The Forum, Melbourne 01/07/2023

Review By Nikki Eenink

Never has it felt more appropriate to recognise the People’s whose land I work and write on; the Wurrundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. Australia is home to the longest living culture on Earth, whose tradition of oral storytelling often involved song. As a music-writer, gig-goer, and story-lover – It’s important to recognise and honour that tradition, and the many ways it is carried on throughout our country. This always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

Australia is a country that is unbelievably diverse, in landscape, in people and in sound. On Saturday night, I was treated to three acts from all across the country: from the small-town shores of Kojonup to sleepy Adelaide and then all the way north to Arnhem land. I’ve never seen The Forum so full. Doors were at 7, and by the time the clock struck 8 – it was full. Strangers standing shoulder to shoulder, filling the walkways and the floor. We ourselves were so diverse. I saw two twenty-somethings in bright pink coats and red leather pants, a middle-aged man fresh from BCF rocking a cap and boardies, and everything in between.

First act of the night were WA’s own, Old Mervs. To say this duo are “up-and-comers”, is putting it lightly. With over 200,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, I’d be expecting them to become a household name tossed around along with snags at a barbeque. Major hit Cellphone absolutely rocks the crowd at The Forum. It combines King Krule-esque vocal stylings with Ocean Alley’s Aus-Rock sensibilities. Wearing baggy shirts, partially unbuttoned and jeans, these are two guys I could’ve gone to highschool with. Unbelievably chill, but undeniably polished, Henry and David are bringing surf rock back, baby. Childhood friends since they were 5, they innately understand the other, moving like a single organism. The surf-rock renaissance is back, bring it on, bruh.

Although a tough act to follow, we completely shift gears with second support, George Alice. We’ve swapped shaggy blonde hair and a slacker attitude for feminine melancholy and RnB vocals. Australia needs more women in its music scene, and Georgia Mannion took matters into her own hands. At only 20 years old, she’s already quickly soaring through the charts and quickly cementing herself as a newcomer not to be messed with. Long bleached blonde waves cascade over her shoulders as she places two hands lightly on the mic stand. The voice that comes out of her is incredible. Strong, with a gorgeous vibrato and a self-assured gentleness – she has us wrapped around her little finger. Hold On is where her voice really shines. The crowd that was letting loose and dancing is now deathly still, not wanting to break the spell she’s cast on us. My arms are covered in goosebumps. But it’s not all achingly gorgeous semi-ballads, songs like Stuck in a Bubble do an amazing job prepping us for the high-energy main act that’s about to come onstage.

It’s hard to describe the hold King Stingray had over us that night. From the moment it seems like the house lights might dim, people go ballistic. Boys jump in the air, someone screams an ungodly scream, hands are thrown into the air. The anticipation is killer. And not long after, King Stingray comes onstage. This 6-piece, absolute weapon of a band are dressed so casually, it’s almost humorous. They really look like they just stumbled onstage at first. But then they play. And my God, can they play. It’s just banger after banger. The nervous shuffling is replaced with ripper guitar solos, multi-instrument changes and powerful vocals. King Stingray are a delight, in every sense of the word. The room is buzzing, nay, pulsing with energy. Constant heckles of “Yeah!” or, better yet, “Fuck yeah!”, “Deadly!” all fill the room. I moved further to the back of the room as the dancefloor became too hot for my winter getup, and The Forum looked like an ocean. Waves of sound created a sea of hands and bodies and heads, all moving together.

There are many parallels between King Stingray and another iconic Indigenous band, Yothu Yindi. Lead singer Yirrŋa Yunupiŋu is the nephew of Dr. M. Yunupiŋu. and guitarist Roy Kellaway is the son of Stuart Kellaway, who were both founding members of Yothu Yindi. The pair have known each other since childhood. The band is already heavily enmeshed in Australian music culture, King Stingray signed to The Chats’ ‘Bargain Bin Records’, after Yunupiŋu and Kellaway released the band’s first single, Hey Wanhaka. Hey Wanhaka gets a feature tonight, to thunderous applause, jumping and stamping feet. The standout of the night for me, is Dimathaya Burarrwanga’s absolutely unreal didgeridoo playing. It melts perfectly among their 6-voices, adding a layer of depth musically unlike anything else I’ve ever heard. King Stingray are clearly very connected to their Indigeneity, and it surrounds all of their songs in a way that is so beautiful and profoundly fulfilling. We are watching more than a concert, we are watching thousands of years of cultural tradition, of community building, of brotherhood.

I want to stay true to my roots / I want to stay here with you

For Australian cultural icon, Triple J’s; Like A Version, King Stingray performed a cover of Yellow by Coldplay. I didn’t ever imagine I’d see The Forum filled with perfectly in-tune clapping hands.

“We’re going to need some help with this one”, before everyone launches into Yellow. Band and audience, we’re all screaming those lyrics at the top of our lungs. They play an extended version, to give each instrumentalist the chance to leave their mark on us, and the stage. Their energy is insane, never dipping, even for a moment.

Obviously, mega-hit Milkumana goes off. People are scrambling on top of their friends shoulders to make room for more bodies on the ever eager dancefloor. The guy to my left is jumping so high he nearly touches the ceiling, and I see a lad in a bucket hat ushering his band of merry bandits onto the dancefloor. The lighting is incredible here too. Black, yellow and red circles dance around the band. They’re bathed in the colour of the Aboriginal flag, and we are bathed in blissful sound. I remember the first time I heard Milkumana, I was 25 minutes late to an appointment because of traffic, but honestly, I didn’t care. If you want the vibes of an easy summers day, this is a guaranteed serotonin-booster.

Yunupiŋu poses a question to us; “Melbourne, why is it so cold down here? We gotta leave fast, it’s fucking freezing.” Kellaway jumps in, “Western Gapuwiyak, where the sun goes down – that’s what this song is about. Getting out of the city.” Campbell Messer, their phenomenal bassist, takes to the mic; “Thank you so much for coming out tonight. Everybody raise their hands up, facing your palms towards us.” A tidal wave of hands find their way to fresh air. “Look at all those colours. Beautiful. This song is to Strangers. You and me. Brothers and sisters. We bleed together.”  Yunupiŋu reiterates, “Nah, but seriously, get me out of the city.” With a laugh and a wink they launch into the penultimate track of the night; Get me Out.

Coming on for their encore, drummer Lewis Stiles does a SOMERSAULT (an honest-to-god somersault) onstage, leaping high in the air to take his seat behind the set. Let’s Go is such a mammoth way to finish. Everyone’s dancing and the band is pulling out all the stops. The tearing vocals, the unbelievable didgeridoo playing, the elegant bass-lines – not a hair out of place. It’s absolutely perfect. I see people going to leave, trying to beat the crush, but they can’t. They stand at the top of the stairs, frozen, unable to look away.

And then, it’s over, and I’m gutted. We all have more in us. It was such an unbelievable night. No other band does it quite like King Stingray. If you haven’t seen them, what are you doing? I won’t be able to get this night out of my head for a very, very long time.

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[Review] 10CC @ Palais Theatre, Melbourne 25/06/2023

Review By Nikki Eenink

My dad and I often argue about music; Are The Beatles overrated? Is Lola the best pop song? These things are unknowable. The one thing we don’t argue about: 10cc. They have to be the most underrated rock band of their era (and beyond), and I was lucky enough to have the best night in a long time when “The Worst Band in The World” took the Palais Theatre stage this Sunday.

Belgian-born but Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Romanie is the opener for the night. She played a snappy 30-minute set to eager ears, and it was a delightful start to a super fun night. 10cc didn’t have support acts for many of their concerts this tour, so I feel very blessed to have been treated to the angelic vocals and gorgeous guitar strummings of Romanie, complimented gorgeously by the Palais’ epic acoustics. Her set wasn’t long enough, and yet somehow she managed to cram in a string of heavy-hitters; Changing, Little Big Steps, Anthony and I’m Anything (But Myself Around You) were all part of this gut-wrenchingly wonderful entrée. Romanie reminds me of when I would roll down the sun-roof and windows of my family’s old Rav4 and drive as fast as I (legally) could down the hills of my hometown. These musical musings are the perfect soundtrack for an indie movie, they have a timeless, nostalgic appeal about them that is really hard to capture in words. Romanticise your life, and relive memories to Romanie this week –she’s something special.

Like clockwork, at 8pm sharp the lights go dim and 5 shadows take the stage. When the lights come up, the 5 shadows have faces – and Hawaiian shirts, a floral blazer and a row of instruments behind them. They have the energy of 5 dads at a barbeque, not rock Gods. Let’s meet the crew who will be steering this one way cruise to Good Vibe Island, shall we? On keyboards, vocals, bass guitar and electric guitar; Keith Hayman. On vocals, keyboards, bass guitar, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, (the fact that the list keeps going beyond this point is ridiculous) percussion, mandolin (ok, now you’re just bragging) and synth, Iain Hornel. These two are newly-welcomed, touring members of the 10cc band – and their talent elevates this already insanely musically talented bunch onstage to new heights. On lead guitar, vocals and acoustic guitar is someone who’s been part of 10cc since the very early days, Rick Fenn. The strong and silent type, Paul Burgess, is their sensational drummer. “He’s been with us since the very beginning, and I’m happy to say he’s still with us”, quips original guitarist and prolific songwriter, Graham Gouldman. I can’t say any one of them was “a front man” or anything like that – they’re an ensemble, and a tight one at that. They all have so much fun together throughout the night, but good god are they unbelievably skilled musicians. During mega-hit Rubber Bullets, I catch Gouldman bashing Hayman’s keyboard with the side of his guitar – all while shredding an intricate riff in perfect harmony with the rest of the guys.

We were promised a night of nostalgia and hits. To quote the Facebook event:

NO STANDING. ALL THE HITS!

And they stayed true to their end of the bargain – we did not.

To quote Smash Mouth; The hits start coming, and they don’t stop coming. Starting off with personal favourite, The Dean and I we are thrown into an ocean of bangers. I mean, seriously, it’s fucking ridiculous. They could fill a 2-hour set with iconic hit after iconic hit, and the audience still had space in our bellies for more. As they moved into The Wall Street Shuffle, it hit me; I’m surrounded by middle-aged women and barbeque dads… and I’ve never fit in so well. Someone pass me a hat and a lawn chair, It’s time to have a beer and listen to 10cc like the retiree I was always meant to be. There’s no other band like them, and there never will be. Known for songs heavy in goof-factor, like Life Is A Minestrone, I was taken aback by how insanely stellar their instrumentation is. Virtuosos, the lot of them. They wind through hits and play different arrangements to keep us on our toes, adding a prog-Rock factor to many of them that isn’t there on the albums. Sometimes, just for a moment, Fenn’s floral blazer, Gouldman’s Hawaiian shirt and the grey hairs fade away, and I can see them as young men, at the top of their game, making their musical mark on the world. There is undeniably a rockstar spirit about them, they capture the duality between comradery, silliness and shenanigan with diligence, creativity, and originality better than any other band I’ve had the privilege of seeing. The way Gouldman speaks about former 10cc members, specifically illustrious songwriters Kevin Godley and Lol Crème, is with such respect, love and care. There seems to be no bad blood between them. When talking about Fenn, Burgess and Hayman, it’s clear that Gouldman seems them as musical brothers. They are a family, where bad blood is bad blood but there’s no one else you’d rather share blood with. This respect for each other, and for their music, shines through. There is such an air of love and nostalgia tonight, and it’s delightful.

It’s not all common hits, we are treated to new song Floating in Heaven, about Gouldman’s love for the James Webb Space Telescope. “I wrote this and sent it to my record company, and they said ‘It’s absolutely fantastic’. Obviously. But it would be even better if you could get Brian May on it. Not only is he an exceptional guitarist, but he’s also a passionate astronomer and astrophysicist. So he said ‘Ok, I love it’, and he sings on it and plays guitar and he” Gouldman gestures side-stage, “is not here tonight.” We all laugh. “But Rick Fenn is!” We all cheer. Floating in Heaven is lovely. It’s simple, it’s gorgeous, and the three-way layered vocals which reverberate so wonderfully, thanks in-part to the Palais’ acoustics, give me goosebumps.

Then we head into two songs where I feel they really shine. I’m Not in Love is first. My dad has this memory of when he was 13 and would listen to the radio in The Netherlands, and when this song came on – it blew his mind. He didn’t know music could sound that way, and he was hooked. My dad is now a music junkie (seriously, someone should stage an intervention), and this song takes some credit for that. I thought the complex vocal and instrumental layers which feature on the track wouldn’t be achievable live, but you should never doubt 10cc. They pull it off. Hornel changes instruments about 6 times, and all four vocalists are working together, and it’s spellbinding. I am washed clean by a river of sound. A musical baptism if you will. Next, is The Things We Do For Love, I’m Not in Love’s poppier big sister. Live it sounds almost melancholic, with Hornel’s vocals hitting insane notes and with those lyrics… perfection. For anyone who’s ever had their heart broken, broken their own heart or been in a complicated Situationship – this one’s for you, us, me. It’s also for the teenage daughter and her dad next to me, he’s holding back tears and she’s grooving – love these guys, great vibes from seat 34 and 35.

Now, here’s the thing about that whole: NO STANDING, thing. I think we will be standing, actually, and not just standing – dancing. As soon as Dreadlock Holiday plays, everyone’s up. Groups of women twirl with each other, teens sidestep, and uncles tap their feet. The song just goes stupidly hard, every time you hear it. I get genuinely sad when it ends. It’s the perfect road-trip song, perfect party beat, hell, I might even have the first dance at my Elvis chapel wedding to it. My daydreams are cut short by the squeals of delight from the crowd when our ship-captains change the lyrics to,

I don’t like Melbourne/ oh no! / I love it!

Insane. They love us?! We love them!! What a dream come true!!

Then, the encore. “This is going to be an acapella version of Donna.” They really don’t run out of ideas, do they? So, they gather around the mic, and in true barbershop quartet fashion, belt out an insane version of the 1972 hit. It seems appropriate to end on one of the band’s first releases. Drummer Paul Burgess comes up to the mic for the final,

“Donna / I love you”.

His deep baritone voice is both shocking and impressive.

“That was Donna by Paul Burgess, ladies and gentlemen.” We go nuts. The most Australian man in history is sitting behind me and nearly rips his vocal cords screaming; “ONYA PAUL” Legend.

But wait! It’s not over! How could it be? We haven’t heard Rubber Bullets yet!

If you haven’t heard them live, you still haven’t really heard Rubber Bullets. The flashing red and blue lights, the hilarious lyricism delivered with the perfect wit and in perfect harmony, the absolute descent into madness onstage – it’s an experience all on its own. To watch them relax into this last number after delivering a set I couldn’t criticise if I tried is so lovely. Even when they’re mucking around; dancing together, kicking their legs, play fighting using their guitars as swords; they’re on the same wavelength.

And then, it’s over. Their enduring bond and passion for music bring everyone to their feet. A standing ovation. I think someone threw their bra. Rock and Roll is back baby, and 10cc is making sure of it.

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[Review] Henry Rollins @ Hamer Hall, Melbourne 24/06/2023

Review By Noah Redfern

Author, traveller, storyteller and punk legend Henry Rollins is a storyteller at heart. Quite possibly the world’s most well-travelled rock star, and literally a man who will never stop moving, Rollins is a sight for sore eyes in a world of stagnant, aging stars and egos that collapse under their own weight.

The Washington DC native brought his Good For You speaking tour to Melbourne on Saturday night at the glorious Hamer Hall. For almost two and a half hours, we were treated to a non-stop thrill ride of off kilter talers, semi deranged non sequiturs and trials of the mind and soul.

“I’m going to try to fit an extra twenty seconds into every minute tonight” Henry told us almost immediately after hitting the stage, “otherwise you’d be stuck here for four or five hours”.

For those who aren’t familiar, Henry Rollins rose to prominence in the 1980s as the fourth and most prominent singer of the hardcore punk rock band Black Flag. Leaving the band in 1986, Rollins jumped at every creative opportunity given – going on to be something of a renaissance man. Becoming an author, spoken word artist, actor and activist, Rollins has lived more in one lifetime than most men could in a dozen.

Fans of Rollins’ signature brand of word salad were overjoyed – the ten-laughs-a-minute brutality of wordplay demanded constant attention. Never taking a breath, never taking a sip of water, the show just kept going at am almost exhaustive rate, yet I could never lose interest or become bored. Henry would sometimes pause a story to promise us it would make it to a catharsis just when it seemed completely off the rails. There was no doubt that Henry’s style is nothing if not charming.

Never begging for applause, Henry would earn it every time. Weaving various stories together and delivering a wider message of optimistic nihilism, we learned of Henry’s life. His youth in Washington DC, abusive parents and finding solace in friendship and punk rock. But these stories weren’t all lessons and heavy topics – every tangent was packed with humourous observations.

One memorable moment told us of his paranoia of a home invasion – and his eventual respect for his potential stalker, while another told us of his detached relationship with death, and of the ashes of his alcoholic mother he forgot he left in his car before departing his home in Nashville last November for this extended tour. Finding the humour in the darkness, searching for the light in the horror, Henry rose through that sickness and strangeness of today seeking positivity, hilarity and joy.

A true one-in-a-billion character, and a great example for men of today. A first glance, one might assume Henry to be a world of machoism and toxic masculinity. With his muscular figure, tattoos and almost military attitude, you’d be right to think so of the sixty-two year old.

Upon listening to the man speak and share, you’ll learn that Henry is the shining example of what men, in particular aging men should be. Reminding the older generations that it is okay to step aside and let the youth take the reins. Reminding us all that empathy, love and positivity can prevail when we let it.

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[Review] Jungle Giants @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 23/06/2023

Review By Nikki Eenink

I’m convinced that every Australian under 30 has been made to watch The Jungle Giants at least once. Except it’s less, “A Clockwork Orange” and more “oh noooo, please don’t make me watch one of Australia’s most iconic, musically sharp, banger-producing bands, play yet another festival oh noooo”. Like clockwork, every festival season, Sam Hales and his gang take to the stage and absolutely rock a sea of bucket-hat wearers. I have been this bucket-hat wearer, and always look forward to somehow ending up at The Jungle Giants stage and dancing in the beating sun. But something I’d never done, was see them play at an indoor venue, especially not one as intimate as Melbourne’s The Forum.

The Lazy Eyes, however, were a new treat for me. And treat is the right word. The band members are unassuming; lead singer Harvey Geraghty looks like a more relaxed Kurt Cobain, if Cobain ever decided to pursue the synth instead of the guitar. Itay Shachar shreds on lead guitar, and he looks like a missing member of notorious Loser-Rock band Weezer; big glasses frames hiding his face, white button up tucked into chinos – the whole ensemble. But these guys aren’t Loser-Rock, they’re cool, very cool. They have this laid-back air about them as they wind through tracks from their various releases, as if it’s no-big-deal that they are playing flawlessly. They easily match the quality of their recordings, and then blow it out of the water. Even as newcomers, they are a band that was born to play live. A highlight in their set was undeniably their cover of More Than A Woman by the BeeGees, it was the same disco-esque beat we all know and love, mixed with Lazy Eye’s own psych-rock sensibilities – and it was awesome. During personal fave; Where’s My Brain??, the fearsome foursome are playing so loud, I can feel the wall I’m leaning on wobble, pulsing with every slam Noah Martin delivers to the kick-drum. The venue is literally alive, Lazy Eyes it’s metronomic heartbeat. After blowing our minds, and nearly blowing the ceiling off The Forum, front-man Geraghty thanks us with a beaming grin; “Thanks! We’re going to play some piano songs now.” He says it as if that last track wasn’t anything special. What’s jaw-dropping for the rest of us, is just another day for The Lazy Eyes. Once the piano comes out we are treated to unreleased track; Better Off This Way. “We’re going to play you one more love song and then get outta here. This is the first-ever song we put out, and it’s called Cheesy Love Song”. I love Cheesy Love Song, it reminds me of going to highschool in New South Wales – just like The Lazy Eyes. For anyone who had crushes or romances in the suburbs of some satellite-city, this one’s for you. Enjoy your meal.

It’s easy to forget how young the four guys onstage are, with their ever-growing trail of releases, international festival slots and rave reviews. But when Geraghty takes the mic to say, “This is the last show of our tour with The Jungle Giants, and it’s been a massive pleasure. Thanks to them for inspiring us and putting up with our shit!” And I look at all their beaming smiles, it hits me. They’re still just four young men, unsure how they got to this stage, but they are damn well not going to lose it. They bring the support act to a close with Fuzz Jam. Gerahgty gets weird with the synth, playing with his voice “oooooh” becoming “oOOoOoOh”. I can see him giggling a little bit. But, somehow, even while they are having a mess-around – they’re flawless. Bassist Leon Karagic is absolutely ripping into his bass strings, giving us the solo of a lifetime. Dissatisfied with the crowd’s energy, Geraghty just says, “Can I get a little more movement?” and subtly waves his arm up, and the crowd goes for it. Girls who drink Somersbys and guys who drink GOAT beers throwing their arms in the air and shimmying and jostling. And then, they leave the stage, and no one moves – despite the 20-minute space between acts. All of our eyes are glued to the stage, desperately trying to make our main act appear.

In the gap between acts, jungle-esque techno is playing through the venue, just in case you’d forgotten you were here to see The Jungle Giants. The crowd is awash with people in cowboy hats. I’m confused, but rocking with the vibe nonetheless.

Then, the lights go dark and tendrils of light burst from the stage and make us squint to see the silhouettes of the Brisbane-icons take the stage. The room is holding it’s breath, you could hear a pin drop. Instead of a pin, we hear the voice of front-man Sam Hales, one we will hear a lot of through the night, say two simple words; “Let’s go” and we are thrown into Something Got Between Us. Normally, crowds need a bit of warming up, but we are sufficiently warm. So when Hales starts a call-and-response with us, we are immediately there with him, not a drop of hesitation. The iconic festival banger is one a lot of us had to miss last time The Jungle Giants were in town, Laneway ’23, due to The Great Jungle Giants / 100 gecs Timeslot Clash. So we are making up for it now. People are on each others shoulders, hats are being waved in the air, we are screaming back to the band onstage:

“Hey! Never gonna let you go! Not. This. Time.”

There’s always something amazing about the last show of a tour, the band gives it everything they’ve got, but it isn’t without a slight air of mourning. Hales is an extraordinary vocalist at the best of times, but tonight he’s something else. He belts these incredibly long, high notes that aren’t even on the recording. He’s letting it all out. And the energy in the room is matching this. In between every song, he lets out; “The energy in here is fucking fantastic. It’s something else. It’s ethereal.” Send Me Ur Loving is their second track, and our energy only grows. The question is, how long can we last? (Spoiler: The energy only grows for the next 90 minutes, thanks to the masterful musicianship and audience connection that makes The Jungle Giants one of Australia’s best.)

You’re a great crowd, we can tell that already, so we are gonna treat you fucking right tonight.” And they do, literally. Treat You Right is the next cab off the rank, and just like the songs before it, it’s so good. The lighting team is absolutely crushing it with these big washes of purple, red and orange. Spotlights going crazy on the band, and on us. They are giving it everything they’ve got. You can tell The Jungle Giants play at festivals, they know what crowds want. This tiny space is alive. I can nearly feel the grass, and taste the canned water, and feel my pupils becoming dinner plates. They have created a nostalgia-pill, a yearning for summertime, a much-needed release from Melbourne’s unrelenting winter. And then, suddenly, silence. The stage lights are stopped, the band stops mid-song. The stage has lost power. Instead of being upset, Hales just laughs. “You know what this means? It means you’re seeing a live fucking rock show!” The crowd cheers and his band look relieved and let out held breaths. Hales is one of the best frontmen in the business, you immediately trust him. He’s disarming and funny and talented, he loves his band, he loves his crowds, he always wears fun outfits – he’s an Australian icon. He’s the perfect person to ease our minds. “I’ve always wanted to be a stand-up comedian, maybe this is my chance.” Before he can tell us a joke he spots some girls frantically waving fake candles in the crowd. “Are these candles?” he asks, he’s met with untranslatable screams, “You stole them?! Why?” The girls just shrug. “Fair enough, you look great!”. Hales then hits us with some of the worst dad-jokes you can imagine; yes, that bad. But he’s so confident with it, that we all have to laugh. He keeps the energy light. I’m standing by the tech-desk and see the chaos unfold right before me. A few men frantically pressing buttons and moving levers, seemingly to no avail. And then, like Moses parting the Red Sea, She arrives. Out of the crowd, a woman with a bleached mini mohawk, leather jacket, heeled boots steps up to the desk. I spot the lesbian-pride badge on her jacket. If I have to trust anyone to get the job done, it’s a lesbian with a buzz-cut. And within 30 seconds and barely a wiggle of a knob, we have power. She’s the underrated superstar of our evening.

“Let’s just start the next song, and you guys are gonna set the tempo. Start clapping to the same beat!” It’s been said that ‘White People Have No Rhythm’, never has that ever been truer than right now. We can’t find a beat to save ourselves. But somehow, we eventually find one, and it’s fast. The band doesn’t look perturbed at all. Drummer, Keelan Bijker (Dutch icon), picks up for us, and the band plays On Your Way Down, to a completely new tempo. Fuck me, it’s impressive. The music just flows out of them, effortlessly. This song is a personal fave, so I’m loving it. I love it so much I start a dance circle with my friend and this girl next to us. The crowd is going nuts, we are all swaying arms and reckless abandon, bathed in a sea of purple and blue.

Now, the hats, don’t worry, I didn’t forget. “I can see some of you know what The Hats are about, and for those of you who don’t let me explain,” begins Hales, “Throw those hats up on stage and we will auction them off to a charity; Support Act, it’s one primarily focused on music. If you can get your hat on my head, you get 50 free tickets to The Jungle Giants. A guy got it last night and I’m gonna call him later.” The crowd shrieks and a swarm of hats, all directly aimed at Hales’ head fly onto the stage. Someone nearly gets it, it knicks Hales in the ear. “You know what, that’s close… We’ll talk” and our frontman shoots off a finger gun to the owner of said blue bedazzled cowboy hat. Someone throws a feather boa onstage. “Oh shit! What is this? A feather boa? I’m just like Harry Styles.” Hales laughs, “I don’t know how he plays in this, so I’ll just wear it in between tracks.” And he does, for the rest of the show, while rotating through the hats so lovingly chucked at his head. Legend.

Feel The Way I Do is next. And this is where it dawns on me, I know every The Jungle Giants song. So does everybody. They have ingrained themselves into our subconscious, like U2 putting that album on everyone’s iTunes back in the day. But instead of thinking too much about why it is these guys seem like old friends, I throw my hands in the air and jump along to the silly synth beats and Andre Dooris’ unmatchable bass lines. As they swap cowboy hats, they wind through the rest of the set, each track keeping the energy high and the people overjoyed. Rakata, Monstertruck and others are all in store for us – the songs just keep coming. The Jungle Giants throw film cameras into the audience every time I’ve seen them, “Take some motherfucking pics!” is our only instruction. Our soundtrack is In Her Eyes, and soon those cameras are being thrown back onstage, stocked with photos of friends, couples, and strangers. Looking around, I see lads in bucket hats jokingly slow dancing with each other, young couples making out, and the girls behind me, fuelled on rose, screaming “Sam, you’re so SEXY!!! Sam!!!!” I’m also 99% sure recently reviewed Matt Maltese is in a booth here tonight. They finish with Trippin Up, before blowing us a kiss and walking offstage. The crowd isn’t having it, and they scream like how I’ve never heard people scream. And so, the band comes back on for their encore. Hales, somehow not out of breath, introduces us to his band. “I thought I’d lost my band, would’ve made it hard to give you one last song. But here they are: on drums, Keelan Bijker, on bass, Andrew Dooris and on lead guitar, the always sensational, Cesira Aitken.” Aitken is unassuming, as ever, acting as if it isn’t a big deal that a premiere-league Australian rock band has a female lead guitarist. She always gives a shy smile and returns her gaze to the guitar, as the crowd screams their love for her. “Let’s give a big cheer to our tech crew, say ‘Fuck yeah, Tech Crew!”

FUCK YEAH TECH CREW

Hales seems satisfied with that, “Thank you so much! This was out 17th and final show of tour, and we’ve made something special here tonight. Take all that energy you have and pour it out, leave it here, give this everything you’ve got!” Heavy Hearted is one hell of a closing number. And we get an extra-long version. Hales’ gives and gives, and so do we. It’s a battle of wills, and neither of us let that energy drop. It’s such a good song, so we clap and laugh and some of us cry. To cap off an already insane night, with a stacked setlist, the band plays us out with Used To Be In Love. It gets emotional; all of us excited for summer and romance and friends and picnics. And so, we pour all of ourselves out onto the dancefloor, strangers become friends, and The Jungle Giants become our anthem.

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[Review] Among The Restless @ Night Cat, Melbourne 23/06/2023

Review By Cassandra Hale

Closing out their All I Want Is Everything East Coast tour at Fitzroy’s The Night Cat, Among The Restless were ready to celebrate this huge milestone.  While Melbourne had delivered a freezing winter night it did nothing to discourage the punters from turning out in droves, the venue steadily filled with the cult like following who were ready to rock. I have watched Among The Restless grow over the last few years, the venues have got bigger, the fanbase has grown exponentially and their music has taken on a force of its own. Their songs show a maturity garnered by hard work and dedication and I was keen to take in the show in front of their home crowd in Australia’s capital of live music.

The Night Cat is a brilliant Melbourne nightspot, with its stage positioned in the centre of the room it cuts an amazing visual. Add to this an eclectic collection of lightshades hanging from the ceiling in varying hues of pink which instantly gives a chilled vibe. Being able to see the band from every angle gives a new perspective, and while the bulk of the fans gathered front and centre, many wandered to gauge a new angle over the course of the night.

Opening with Define, Among The Restless were off and running and the turn out were more than ready to throw themselves into the pit and get a piece of the action. Underground and Missing Pieces were up next, the Night Cat was warming up, with the cold of the outside night checked at the door. Torn had the floor bouncing as one, singer Rhett James working the crowd like a pro, his exuberance and lust for the live performance ever present. He is dripping with charisma and sings flawlessly every damn time. Crowd favourite Wastecase had the mosh up and about and Jaidyn Hale entered beast mode behind the kit. His precision skin hitting brought to the forefront in this drum laden tune, the fans lapped it up with chants of ‘Jaidyn’ spurring him on to deliver a mind-bending assault on the kit.

Without You had the floor grooving one minute then exploding the next as the epic build lashed them, Rhett leaving no corner of the stage uncovered. There was so much to love about the show, the engagement with the fans was next level, the quality of music impeccable and the collective voice knowing every word of every song a testament to their fierce following. Seamus Glenn delivered his most recent penmanship with Star Crossed, bloody hell this song rips hard. With such a catchy chorus it was an instant winner and had the venue pinging with happiness, smiles as wide as the stage at every vantage point. Seamus showed he is much more than a guitarist, his writing skills also of the highest calibre. No Sense // No Feeling brought out the crazy again as Lachie Dunn shredded like a psychopath, one of their heavier tunes this one had the floor slamming with gusto. Lachie’s backing vocals also prevalent throughout the night, he is the complete package and a pivotal part of the ATR dynamic.  

The upbeat cover of UFO was a crowd pleaser followed by the first single released by ATR, Someone Else. This song still rocks as hard it as did when I first heard it, it also comes complete with yet another epic breakdown that had the revellers throwing themselves into the pit.  Slave Within The Change delivered all the neck snapping feels that the fans wanted and it was everyone for themselves as the sweaty melting pot of a pit expanded to a blur of limbs. Let’s talk bass for just a minute. Josh Marra keeps the bassline well and truly covered and if you want to hear some of his epicness just check out the latest single Ego.  Josh worked all parts of the stage even taking a trip into the crowd with Seamus on one occasion, this four-string slayer certainly keeps you entertained.  Ego showcases the growth in ATR and when it is backed up by the classic Lucy you know you are in for a bloody good time. Their most popular song to date, Lucy never disappoints and had the crowd taking over the vocals for the duration.

These boys just tick every box and then some, and as the punters called for ‘one more song’ they did not disappoint jumping into a blistering cover of Bulls On Parade. This has become a firm finisher for ATR and one that brings out every level of crazy, the melting pot of a floor surged and jumped as one, making the most of every last minute. I saw girls facetiming to the unfortunate that couldn’t make it, I saw selfies snaps if you could pin down a band member, and I saw an unending merch line. Everything you would expect from a band of the highest level. Among The Restless prove time and time again that they are here for the duration and ready to mix it with the big guns of the industry.  If you are yet to see these guys live, add it to your ‘to do’ list immediately, they leave nothing in the tank and put on the show of a lifetime EVERY SINGLE TIME!

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[Review] Billy Ocean @ Palais Theatre, Melbourne 20/06/2023

Review By Cassandra Hale

Winter had dealt us a freezing Melbourne night and the breeze blowing off the bay was fierce, but it did nothing to dampen the excitement of seeing Billy Ocean play our Iconic Palais Theatre. It has been a few years since he last graced our shores, and the jammed packed theatre was a testament to Melbourne’s adoration of seeing Billy live in the flesh.

There was not a spare seat for love or money as I made my way in to enjoy the evenings support. The duo, Mutherson, gave us an opening set of classic covers including Fleetwood Macs’ Landslide and Waves by Dean Lewis. Their thirty-minute set certainly got the fans warmed up and ready for the Billy Ocean onslaught that we were all waiting for. The buzz in the venue was electric as the clock ticked down to showtime, voices grew louder as excitement levels rose. It was then that Australian radio veteran Gavin Wood took to the stage to start proceedings.  

With introductions done Billy graced the stage wearing a full white suit to match his goatee and dreadlocks. All charisma and sophistication, his 1000 watt smile as wide as the room as he launched into One World, followed by Love Really Hurts Without You which had the crowd instantly on their feet singing along. Working through a jam-packed list of hits, of which there are many, Billy delivered There’ll Be Sad Songs and Love Zone, engaging with the fans with waves and hellos and even a kiss on the hand to one lucky lady. Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car made an early appearance and had the theatre on its feet for a rousing sing-along followed closely by Colour Of Love and Red Light. I was pleasantly surprised to hear the cover of the Bob Marley classic, No Woman No Cry make an appearance, the venue swaying in their seats, everyone taking in the Jamaican vibes clearly enjoying this added extra.

Mystery from the latest album One World was next, and then the sublime Suddenly, which melted hearts and brought out all the feels. The stage awash with blue lights setting a stunning background to Billy in his white suit crooning to this mega hit. One of my personal favourites, Loverboy, was next. It had Billy cutting all the moves as he worked the stage with ease, the crowd applauded with gusto with every spin or piece of fancy footwork he performed. Let’s talk about the phenomenal band that accompanied the show, including Billy’s daughter on backing vocals. While I only had eyes for Billy, they certainly kept the show running like clockwork and provided the perfect accompaniment to each and every song. With sensational saxophone solos and celestial harmonies, I was left well impressed by the amount of talent on stage.

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going was started with a little sing-along from the crowd, it felt like we were a part of the show and everyone was happy to oblige. This song was a fan favourite, and you could see smiles for miles as Billy sang and danced up a storm. Still shaking hands and even signing a record for one fan to treasure for ever, Billy was ever the people person, and everyone adored him for it. After the magnificent band were introduced, Billy mentioned how cold Melbourne was and asked if we would “like to warm up with a trip to the Caribbean.” Ahh, yes please Billy!! Of course, there was no introduction needed as Caribbean Queen closed out the night to rapturous applause, the Palais capacity on their collective feet to sing and dance the night away. Billy so appreciative of each and every person, high fiving his way along the front row and professing his love for us as he left the stage.

The satisfaction that comes with seeing a live show of this calibre is still mind blowing to me, seeing an idol from my childhood still sounding and looking so amazing is a testament to Mr Ocean himself. The joy that his show brought to me, and every other person in the theatre was evident as I left the venue hearing people singing and smiling with exhilaration. Thank you Billy Ocean, I took a step back in time, relived my youth and I loved every minute.

You can still Catch Billy Oceans last three shows. 

Darling Harbour Theatre, Sydney
Thu 22 June, 2023

 Royal Theatre, Canberra
Thu 25 June, 2023

Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide
Thu 27 June, 2023

Tickets available now

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[Review] Deville @ Stay Gold, Melbourne 16/06/2023

Review By Andrew Pauley

Friday night in Melbourne Town goes a little like this. Beer + Beer + Beer + Tequila and a can of JD n Coke = Fkn pumped, where are the live acts at?!   Turns out that Brunswick at the Stay Gold was where some of the goods were on this night, to be.

After a burger and a parma down the road STM’s own camera man Shane and I stormed the Stay Gold. Neat little venue as in there is a bar, stage backdropped by Deville banner and another bar which pretty much sums up this little space. I’ve got add that the sound for a small space was bang on right across the board. The mix was defknlicious.

The line up for Friday night’s listening feast was and in order Nuada, Oceanlord, Child and headlining were Swedish Champions from Deville.

Nuada was first to wake up the night kicking off with their tune Salvaged from their Beneath the Swamp album. Stoner Bam! Right in the face coming off a sweet subtle intro of strings leading into a big fat bassy riff. Smoke machines licking our faces while these four fellas ripped through Sky so Grey, Sabbath, Cold Dead Black & Monster. Totes worth checking these dudes out, solid four-piece unit. Vocally strong and tight over well-structured tracks.

Photo: Shane Henderson

Oceanlord’s 3-piece Local Doom Dudes reached out to wash the room with slow tempo chunks of psych rock & undertones of UK metal. Out of the dark depths they came to launch their latest album Kingdom Cold. Didn’t know the songs but I believe they were from the new album.

Child, Trio No.2 for my third entrée and well I was not expecting these guys as I was transitioning out of darkness that was Oceanlord! My head nearly snapped right off my lower parts when this surprise packet dropped their nuggety, bluesy hard rock sermon. I say sermon as from their website it states we the lovers of this genre are the worshippers of the electric church!! Amazing performance with so much visual chemistry between the three members. I was a tad brain boggled at times when I could swear, I was hearing a Gibson but looking at Fenders. Switching from that mellow blues sound and then transitioning into raw hard rock. I definitely will track these fuckers down to go and visit their Electric Church again. Most impressed.

Photo: Shane Henderson

Some more Tequila with JD & Coke chasers were had to wash the previous entrees down and I got my shit together for Deville whom by the way are proper dudes which I got to chat to as we watched the previous sets. So, onto Deville, the now four piece unit from Malmo Sweden finally down under after SHITVID19 cancelled their previous tour. Full room thick with smoke machine air biscuit and a crowd ready to drink in Stone metal rock jams.

Busting the set out with Burning Towers, No Sun and Speaking In Tongues came, songs from their 6 album catalogue whipped Stay Gold into a grunge metal stoner frenzy. I could tell these guys were on and amped to pull the stage apart with high energy and left nothing in the tank. Even though Michael Odegarden had only brought his sticks with him leaving his kit back home, he jumped on that foreign kit in a foreign land and made it his bitch. It was awesome to watch him play tight rapid chops holding the backline to songs like Serpent Days, Deserter, Wrecked, Imperial and other tracks from the 6th studio album Heavy Lies the Crown.

Photo: Shane Henderson

I lost my shit however when What Remains came on and was front & centre trying to work off the worm from the bottle. Martin, Andreas, Michael & Erik deliver, and they deliver hard!! With galloping chunky riffs that make your nipples hard enough to support a wet blanket. Deville are just one of those bands that when heard live you can’t help but get involved with head nods and windmills.

Photo: Shane Henderson

Finishing their set with Rise Above, Sunset Capricorn & Lava (of fuck yes please Lava)! The band is travelling Oz at the moment and with shows in most states I implore you to get off your bean bag and go see them.

Seriously considering changing my offshore trip to try and catch them in Germany later this year so that’s gotta say something about the class of Deville.

You can still catch Deville on the following dates:

Thu, Jun 22: Finnians Irish Tavern, Port Macquarie
Fri, Jun 23: House of Music and Booze, Sydney
Sat, Jun 24: Indian Ocean Hotel for Spliffs’N’Riffs, Scarborough
Sun, Jun 25: Port Beach Brewery for Spliffs’N’Riffs, Fremantle

Tickets are onsale now through 

www.beatscartel.com/showtickets

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