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Album ReviewReviews

Avenged Sevenfold – Life Is But A Dream

It has been 6 long years since Avenged Sevenfold released The Stage. Over the last 4 years they have given away precious little, saying only that they were working on their 8th studio album. As the release date approached, I found myself wondering: what direction would a band that has achieved it all, choose to take? Would they return to their roots to satisfy their fans’ sense of nostalgia or modernise their sound to appeal to a more contemporary audience? Well, I am pleasantly surprised to tell you my friends, that the answer to that is neither of those. So with a drumroll and a parting of the curtains, I invite you to take a journey with me into the highly anticipated opus from Avenged Sevenfold, Life is But a Dream.

Game Over opens the album with a beautiful classical guitar arrangement reminiscent of a Stephen Sondheim musical. Just as you settle in and lower your guard, the song thrusts you into a blistering Thrash metal segment that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Slayer record. Now I know how jarring the juxtaposition of musicals and metal might sound but trust me this actually works. Like the mad scientist who first combined ingredients to invent maple bacon ice-cream, this is one of those rare moments where two worlds collide and make something new and magical.

The next track is Mattel and the musical/crushing-metal theme continues. It blooms into a multi layered tapestry of impossibly tight and precise rhythms, creating a backdrop for vocals that traverse seamlessly between lush bathroom reverbs and filthy grinds.

Nobody was the first single released off this new album and the first time I heard it I was intrigued. Now, after multiple listens I can assure you that I have been converted. I have to take a second to pay my respects to Brooks Wackerman and Synyster Gates for the ridiculous level of musicianship that they have displayed on this track. Machine like precision yet still overflowing
with human emotion. In an age where there is much chatter about AI replacing us, I am put at ease by these musicians, that humans still have the edge in an unquantifiable, intangible way.

The second single released was We Love You. To my ears it continues the themes and variations that have already been established but fuses in little elements of Euro Trance into the mix. At 7:31 in length, Cosmic is a strong contender for my favourite track of the album. A painfully beautiful and grandiose epic, it has so much depth and is so considered in its arrangements as it invokes David Bowie influences.

Easier opens with a modulated vocal chorus line that reminds me of Imogen Heap. The creativity and experimentation continue as the song progresses and Johnny Christ showcases some really great bass lines on this track, perfectly complimenting the Hendrix-esque guitar lines. G takes us into Prog Rock territory with phrasing and grooves that one would usually expect to hear from a band like Liquid Tension Experiment. Despite me using many different bands and
artists to describe this album, it still retains a strong identity and originality of its own and maintains a coherence throughout.

(O)rdinary opens with a synth arpeggio pattern that is accompanied by funky clean guitars and modulated vocals. I get a strong Daft Punk influence from this track, specifically the Random Access Memories album.

(D)eath enters with more orchestral arrangements taking me back to the golden age of Hollywood. Imagine a crooning Frank Sinatra number that drifts off into a dark and ominous direction.

Eagle-eyed viewers might have noticed that the first letter of the last 3 songs in the track listing come together to spell, GOD. An interesting Easter egg that might give us more clues into the concepts of this album. I’m always impressed when artists go the extra distance to pay attention to such little details.

The grand finale concludes with the instrumental, Life is But a Dream – an extended piano movement that is elegant and alluring while maintaining a sense of morose as it builds to a frenetic climax. Production on the album is excellent and kudos has to given to Joe Barresi and Andy Wallace for bringing this mammoth vision to life by capturing vast and varied nuances found across the record.

Lyrically, the album is inspired by the writings of French philosopher, Albert Camus. A moralist whose views contributed to the rise of the philosophy known as absurdism. Such a choice in subject matter shows the band maturing in not just their craft but also in how they think. Perhaps they are giving us a tiny peek into the inner sanctum of their minds or maybe even urging us to delve into ours?

Commercialism is the antithesis to art and Avenged Sevenfold have thrown caution to the wind as they dive deep into this exploratory endeavour to bring us a genuinely original creation. Doing what is brave and what is easy are seldom the same thing, and I for one am grateful for the courage and vision the band has displayed in the writing of this latest album. It may not please everyone but it has most certainly left me enamoured and more importantly, it has made a powerful statement and set an example that I hope will inspire more bands to keep the hunger and the drive to continuously push the boundaries of music and art. l'art pour l'art

Life Is But A Dream… is set for release on June 2nd via Warner Records. Pre-orders are available now and can be purchased here.

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[Review] Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening @ Palais Theatre, Melbourne 7/04/2023

Review By Josh Mak

There are influential giants in the world of Classical music that have shaped what we have come to know as western civilisation. Mozart, Chopin, Bach etc…

Seldom do we think of Rock n’ Roll in the same regard as Classical, but it is no less relevant in its contribution to our society and culture.

Among the pioneers of the genre it would be unanimously agreed that Led Zeppelin would surely have a seat at that table of legends and Jason Bonham might very well be the last custodian of these sacred works of art.

The show began with the unmistakable charging rhythms, accompanied by the banshee howls of Immigrant Song and the hits kept coming as the band followed this with Good Times Bad Times and Over The Hills and Faraway.

Having been born too late to have seen the original line up perform live I’ve always had to be content with watching videos of Led Zeppelin’s concerts. For the first time in my life I got to see and hear The Song Remains The Same, Rain Song and No Quarter played live and that was a really magical experience .

I would like to spend some time talking about Led Zeppelin’s music and Jason Bonham’s role in carrying the torch not just as a fan but also as a son of what many would consider, Rock n’ Roll’s greatest drummer – John “Bonzo” Bonham.

Led Zeppelin’s music is akin to a mighty river; sometimes a raging rapid; sometimes a gentle brook. Always flowing forward and unstoppable.

Jason Bonham, together with singer James Dylan, guitarist Jimmy Sakurai, and bassist Dorian Heartsong deliver a very faithful and respectful performance of Led Zeppelin’s material. Meticulous care has been taken to not only play the songs right but also in the authenticity in the tone of their individual instruments.

Jason promised to take us on a journey back to the old ways and for awhile we would forget where we were and simply enjoy being in the moment.

I witnessed a band not just playing in sync with each other and being in the pocket but constantly communicating through their instruments with one another and with the audience. Truly a rare thing to behold in our modern era where almost no aspect of art has been corrupted in someway by the digital.

Between each song, we were enchanted as Jason Bonham told us stories of times he had spent with John Bonham and Led Zeppelin. From the grandeur of playing in stadiums to the personal memories they shared at home as a family. We were given a little peek into his world and what it was like growing up around such influential musicians.

Jason Bonham is evidently inspired by the drumming of John Bonham and has miraculously managed to capture his essence in his playing. This is no simple task and many great drummers have failed or simply refused to try to touch such sacred material.

The pacing of the set was expertly crafted and with the final four songs the band reached a level higher than a crescendo. It is genuinely hard to put into words how amazing it was so I will simply list the songs and let you the reader experience the magic as you read each title.

Kashmir, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love and Rock and Roll.

Jason Bonham is a formidable drummer but I think the reason that he is able to do what no other can, is because of the deep connection he has with his dad. To him, before John Bonham is a great drummer he is first and foremost his father and he can take pride in knowing that he is preserving a legacy for all musicians in the present and for those that have yet to come.

You can still catch this amazing show

April 9 – The Tivoli, Brisbane

April 11 – Hindley St Music Hall, Adelaide

Tickets available here: https://metropolistouring.com/jblze-2023/

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[Review] Megadeth / In Flames @ Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne 22/03/2023

As musicians, there are some bands that reached out from the speakers, grabbed us by the souls and inspired us in more ways than they will ever know. On this Wednesday evening, I was humbled and blessed to be in the presence of not one, but two bands who are legends in their individual genres, and whose hold on me has only tightened as the years have gone by. So, without further ado, join me as we lose ourselves in the majesty of In Flames and Megadeth.

In the darkness the sounds of an acoustic guitar and strings played over the sound system, the unmistakable Swedish melodies that In Flames have become renowned for echoed in the stadium in harmony with the roars of the crowd. This was The Beginning of All Things That Will End, and it heralded the appearance of the band that was the soundtrack to my childhood.

They strode out on stage and went straight into The Great Deceiver from their new album, Foregone. Frontman Anders Fridén told us to expect a set list that he called a 10 out of 10 – and my God, did they deliver.

My mind raced with the possibilities of what material from their impressive catalogue they might perform and I was answered with the iconic track, Pinball Map, which was followed by arguably one of their biggest hits, Cloud Connected.

What they played next would have pleased the most devoted of In Flames fans. Taking us all the way back to the very beginning, the song and the album that inspired a whole generation of bands – Behind Space from their debut album, Lunar Strain.

What proceeded was akin to being placed in a time machine as we navigated our way through their discography. Graveland from The Jester Race, The Hive from Whoracle, Only For The Weak from Clayman and My Sweet Shadow from Soundtrack To Your Escape.

I don’t usually go into such intricate detail with regards to the set list but in this case, it was so spectacular that I felt it would be remiss of me not to mention it for all the Jesterheads out there.

We were then returned to the present  with Foregone Pt. 1 and State of Slow Decay.

The current band line up of –

Anders Fridén – Vocals
Björn Gelotte – Guitars
Chris Broderick– Guitars
Bryce Paul – Bass
Tanner Wayne – Drums

– sound incredible together. Tanner and Bryce lock in really well with each other and deliver truckloads of groove to the rhythm section. Chris Broderick adds his decades of experience and finesse as a guitarist to the band and elevates their sound to new heights. Playing complex passages with ease while rocking quite possibly the most impressive set of guns in the industry.

Anders Fridén and Björn Gelotte are without a doubt the beating heart of In Flames and they sound better than ever. Time has aged them like a fine wine, bringing about maturity and complexity, but losing none of the youthful joie de vivre.

The set concluded with Alias, I Am Above and Take This Life. As a man I can only imagine that this is what the fabled multiple orgasm must feel like.

But be still my beating heart, for this is only the beginning. As the Kings depart the stage we braced ourselves for the Gods. Megadeth were about to appear.

Two massive screens flanked the stage with the drum kit set in the middle like a jewel in a crown. Images of flames, death and destruction flashed across the screens as Prince of Darkness played. Megadeth strode out on to the stage with the presence and subtlety of a supernova, and exploded into Hanger 18. The crowd had greatly enjoyed In Flames but this was undoubtedly Megadeth’s family. Any energy that they might have withheld before now detonated through a series of convulsions.

The call and response solo trade-off between Dave Mustaine and Kiko Loureiro simultaneously inspired and discouraged every guitarist in attendance. It seems otherworldly to witness such a combination of technical brilliance and showmanship before your eyes.

They followed this up with Dread and The Fugitive Mind and The Threat Is Real. Dave Mustaine then took some time to regale us with the tale of how the next song came into being.

Arnold Schwarzenegger had wanted a song written for the movie, The Last Action Hero. Dave wrote the lyrics inspired by a dream he had, where ex-drummer Nick Menza had accidentally kicked over one of his beloved guitars and that is how we were blessed with the track, Angry Again. As the band began playing Sweating Bullets the crowd’s reaction can be eloquently described as – going ape-shit crazy. They practically sang the song on Dave’s behalf and made sure that the security worked hard for their pay-checks last night.

To the casual observer these scenes might look chaotic and violent but at a Megadeth show, this is a unique marriage of brutality juxtaposed against brotherhood; a special kind of bonding on an intangible level that is enjoyed and appreciated by the fans.

Another benefit of this environment was that there were a lot less phones out filming in the pit and the audience were able to lose themselves in the music with total abandon.

The freight train of a set continued ploughing through us with She-Wolf, Conquer or Die, Dystopia, Tornado of Souls and Trust. At this stage Dave spoke about getting diagnosed with cancer in 2020 and how when friends heard about this they replied by saying: “ I feel sorry for cancer.”

I’m inclined to agree with that sentiment, for Dave Mustaine is genuinely a force to be reckoned with. Nothing stops this man and his unrelenting will and vision. Through one of life’s most painful and cruel trials he wrote and recorded the phenomenal album, The Sick, The Dying & The Dead, and then he blew us away with the performance of We’ll Be Back.

Megadeth’s current lineup boasts some of Metal’s biggest names.

Kiko Loureiro, who made his name as a part of the Brazilian Power Metal behemoth, Angra, awed us with his fretboard wizardry and firmly cemented his seat alongside the legendary guitarists who have stood in his place. James Lomenzo on bass has a staggeringly impressive resume, having been an integral part of influential bands such as White Lion, Black Label Society and Slash’s Snakepit. Completing the all-star team, is the hard-hitting master of the skins, Dirk Verbeuren – formerly of Soilwork. Each of them are obviously virtuosos at their individual instruments, but together they are a force to be reckoned with. Spell-binding in their performances but always serving the song and Dave’s unique artistic vision.

The set concluded with the epochal, Symphony of Destruction and the thought-provoking, Peace Sells – a song whose lyrics are perhaps more relevant today than when they were first put to paper.

We were physically and emotionally spent by this stage. However, Megadeth weren’t done with us just yet. Dave Mustaine thanked the crowd in a speech that I’ve heard a million times before yet there was a palpable earnestness in the way he said it that I’ve seldom felt.

For an encore they played,

Holy Wars… The Punishment Due.

The audience reaction was a testament to the human spirit and its propensity for endurance as they moshed the hardest they had done all night.

The show ended after two massive hours, but Megadeth will live on eternally in our hearts and minds. Seeing the vast number of young fans who were probably seeing Megadeth live for the first time filled me with a sense of hope that I haven’t felt in a long time.

It’s easy to despair when we look at where music is now and reflect upon the lofty heights from which it fell. Do we push forward with optimism or calculate with pessimism? Perhaps the answer to that is a healthy dose of both and nobody has summed it up better than Dave Mustaine.

“If there's a new way
I'll be the first in line
But it better work this time.”

Megadeth & In Flames will be back on stage at the very first KNOTFEST AUSTRALIA kicking off tomorrow in Melbourne!

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

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

Information available at destroyalllines.com

March 24th, 2023 – Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne

Saturday 25 March 2023 – Centennial Park, Sydney

Sunday 26 March 2023 – RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane 

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[Review] Kip Moore @ Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne 15/03/2023

As the sun began to set on this warm Wednesday evening, Margaret Court Arena was enriched by a multitude of Plaid shirts, trucker caps, denim, cowboy hats and boots.

With most gigs, fans come dressed up for the event in attire that one would usually associate with that genre. But with a country music show I get the sense that the fans are coming dressed as their true, authentic selves – and authenticity is the perfect adjective to describe both Randy Houser and Kip Moore.

Randy Houser began his set by demanding our attention with his powerful and commanding voice, accompanied by the glassy tones of his Stratocaster. Randy is a big man with an even bigger presence and I think he would have quite adequately managed to make himself heard even without the microphone.

The stage was adorned with guitar amps and fold back monitors, something I haven’t seen at a live show in awhile. Such a setup is probably considered old fashioned these days but there was a noticeably organic difference in the sounds coming from the band and damn did they sound good. As the saying goes, If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

As they performed the infectiously catchy, Boots On, I witnessed the band display technical proficiency that was tastefully balanced with restraint. Note To Self, was an emotionally charged performance that encapsulated the heart felt lyrics of the song and moved us with its honesty.

Randy Houser has an undeniable earnestness about him and every time he addressed the crowd it was like a conversation with a dear friend. Playing in Melbourne is kind of like a home coming for Randy as his wife and extended family are locals, and Melbourne is without a doubt, overjoyed to claim him as one of us.

It’s easy for anyone to understand why Kip Moore is the Country music superstar that he is. A husky voice that soulfully regales us with relatable life experiences, a charismatic stage presence that demands devotion and I’m sure the ladies will agree that he’s pretty easy on the eyes too.

Country music is about the stories, but Kip takes it one step further and delivers a performance that is worthy of a stadium show. Beautiful light displays emanated from the stage, painting the audience in ornate colours and patterns whilst gnarly guitar tones echoed through the air, invoking more of a stadium Rock feel than what one would normal expect from country music.

Wild Ones, off Kip Moore’s second studio album was one of the crowd’s favourites of the night. As they sang along, I scanned the many faces in attendance and saw so much joy wherever I looked.

Somethin' 'Bout a Truck is quite possibly the best summary of all the things that make living in the country great, and from the way the crowd reacted, you’d be forgiven for thinking that they very well might be questioning whether city living really is as slick as it seems.

As a special treat for the Australian fans, Kip did a sensational cover of Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again by The Angels and the audience showed their appreciation by valiantly attempting to sing louder than the band.

Kip Moore and his band have a great chemistry, perfectly complimentary of each other while allowing individual members to have their moments to shine. It’s evident that they have honed their abilities through countless shows over the years and the experience shows.

Rock n’ roll had Los Angeles and Country had Nashville. Rock n’ Roll died or at best, is on life support – yet Country music is not only alive but thriving. Why is that? The reason is because Nashville cares and values its music, its artists and its traditions.

There are probably a million memes on the internet about country music and probably just as many jokes too. However, Country music is honesty and authenticity at its finest. Not qualities one would immediately associate with “cool”, but in my opinion – there ain’t nothing cooler than wearing your heart on your sleeve.

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[Review] Melbourne Guitar Show @ Caulfield Racecourse, Melbourne 05/03/2023

Kids have The Royal Melbourne Show, Shoppers have Black Friday, Foodies have The Food & Wine Show and for Guitar Nerds like myself, we wait around all year to attend the Melbourne Guitar Show.

Walking in is like entering a massive, sprawling guitar store with booths from all the major brands greeting you as you enter – Gibson, Fender, Jackson, Gretsch, Ibanez, ESP, PRS. Every major brand was there front and centre. Conveniently, Studio 19 Rentals and Afterpay also had easy to locate booths near the entrance. Ah, there is no other place where you will find addicts and enablers so enamoured with each other.

The fine gentlemen at the ESP booth deserve a special mention for their excellent customer service and even indulged me by letting me try a very rare, 1 of only 15 in the world, USA custom shop guitar. This beauty featured a wood-burned Nosferatu graphic and had a eye-watering price tag of $20,000. It certainly was tempting and had me considering ringing up my bank manager before I snapped out of my trance.

While the big booths drew the largest crowds, it’s always the small boutique builders that pique my interests. So I made my way past all the bright lights and went in search for the hidden gems tucked away in the corners of the showroom.

Mark Gilbert Guitars

Mark Gilbert makes exquisite, one of a kind guitars from sustainably sourced Tasmanian Timbers.

The level of craftsmanship on these instruments is astounding. Each instrument showcases Mark’s meticulous attention to detail and one can only imagine the painstaking hours that go into every build. It’s a very rare thing for artistry and engineering to meet in such a complimentary fashion but when it does, it certainly takes your breath away.

However, these guitars are not merely visually appealing, they are also incredibly comfortable to play. The Tasmanian wood definitely lend a unique voice to each instrument and Mark’s choice of pickups from brands such as TV Jones, Lollar and Lindy Fralin show that no expense is spared with his builds.

All of this luxury comes in at a very reasonable price, especially when you take into account the intricacies involved in these guitars. I for one am now a fan and my wish list has just gotten a little longer. A few of the other boutique brands that caught my attention were Legator Guitars, Cilia Guitars and Holdfast Guitars who do custom airbrush work that is truly stunning.


Nick Johnston

When I heard Nick Johnston was gonna be performing I made sure that I would be there early to get a good close-up view of his set. Nick is such a tasteful player that has so much intentionality behind every note. Emotion flows through every bend, every legato phrase, every trill. As he performed his song, Remarkably Human I really got a sense of his storytelling ability and there were moments that reminded me of one of the greats, Andy Timmons.

Nick Johnston evidently possesses all the techniques and guitar acrobatics that one could wish for, but it is in the way he discerns when and where to use them that sets him apart from many of his contemporaries. He would vary his touch from aggressive digging in, to a light feathering of the strings – and the notes you don’t hear are almost as important as the ones you do. He also exhibited great showmanship and his playful personality came across in his playing.

At the end of his set, Nick took the time for some questions from the crowd and stayed back after to take some photos and have a chat with fans. In the short time that I got to watch him play and have a little chat, I can safely say Nick Johnston is certainly a Remarkable Human.

So that concludes the 2023 Melbourne Guitar Show. I would like to commend the organisers and all the brands involved for putting together an excellent event. We may not have a guitar show on the same magnitude as NAMM in Anaheim but we certainly have a lot of talented luthiers and pedal and amplifier manufacturers in our fair country. Therefore, any event that gives them a platform to be known is definitely one that I cherish.

Photos Contributed by AARON MAK

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[Review] Arch Enemy @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 18/02/2023

In Thrash Metal there are the Big 4. Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax. Of the Big 4 in Melodic Death, Arch Enemy is clearly the Megadeth of their genre.

Heavy Metal is not merely a passion to its fans, it’s a religion, and in a religion – you do not turn up late to church. This was evident by how full The Forum was even before the opening act, Valhalore took to the stage.

Valhalore are described as an Epic Folk Metal band and Epic is the perfect adjective to describe how their set began. Sweeping orchestral arrangements gave way to thunderous drums that built to a crescendo of harmonized guitar melodies, complimented by the Celtic overtones courtesy of flutist, Sophie Grace.

Their music transcended the usual musical boundaries and managed to smoothly navigate its way between the violence of Black Metal and the earthy warmth of European Folk music. From the response of the crowd, you could see that they already have a strong presence and following in the local scene and frontman, Lachlan Neate had their full attention throughout the set. The rhythm section, comprised of Joseph Dipisa-Fiorenza (Bass) and Morgan Cox (Drums), was crushingly heavy and consistent.

A special (maybe slightly biased) mention has to be made to the guitar duo of Anthony Willis and Lucas Fisher. Both of whom I proudly recognise as brothers in the Ormsby guitar family. The guitars looked and sounded damn good and the finesse in which they played their instruments was the greatest endorsement one can give.

Europe might be the birthplace of Folk Metal but Valhalore showed that the Aussies are definitely on par with the big boys.

A massive banner covered the entire back of the stage and flags with Arch Enemy’s logo flanked the sides along with two Marshall stacks on each end. They began their set with Deceiver Deceiver off their latest album and man were they loud – very loud!

Alissa White-Gluz has such a presence about her that just oozes charisma and attitude as her voice tore its way through the songs and the audience. They followed this up with The World is Yours and the iconic, Ravenous from the legendary Wages of Sin album.

If there is a more sophisticated guitar duo than Michael Amott and Jeff Loomis in the metal scene today, I’m honestly hard-pressed to think of one. They play their guitars with a fiendish level of technicality that makes them appear more than mere mortals. There is no distinction between rhythm and lead roles, and absolutely no egos between them either. Riffs and solos cascaded flawlessly with a preternatural fluidity and together with bassist, Sharlee D’Angelo and drummer Daniel Erlandsson, they gave us a masterclass in showmanship and proficiency.

These days, any time a band shows up to a live gig with amps I always sit up and pay extra attention. Technology has now made it possible and much more cost-efficient for a band to omit amplifiers from their live shows. Therefore, those who choose to go the extra mile and use them, hold a special place in my heart. To the non-musicians this might seem like an insignificant detail but often it’s the sum of the most minute details that add up to make the largest impact.

The first time I heard Arch Enemy was 22 years ago when the album Wages of Sin (which has now gone on to be regarded as one of the cornerstones of melodic death metal) was released in 2001. The song Enemy Within captivated me and finally, after all this time, I got to see it performed live together in a mammoth 5-song encore that included, Burning Angel, Snowbound, Nemesis and Fields.

Sometimes we can hype things up in our mind and get disappointed by the result. However, on very rare occasions reality supersedes our imagination. Arch Enemy is one of those rare bands that has gone through various evolutions and has always come out the other side at the top of their game. This is just another beginning for them and I, along with legions of fans can’t wait to see what happens next.

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[Review] Vengaboys @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 11/02/2023

An ocean of sequins, glitter and maritime-themed sailor outfits greeted me as I entered The Forum. It’s been 25 years since the Vengaboys exploded onto the scene and a quarter of a century later, it’s evidently clear that people – still love to party.

DJ Nick Skitz

The dance floor was already close to capacity when DJ Nick Skitz took to the stage. The Forum, a venue usually home to live bands had now been transformed into a massive night club. No time was wasted and DJ Nick Skitz came out strong with hard-hitting bass beats that reached deep into the chest cavity of every patron in the venue. He paced his set brilliantly and continually built the momentum throughout the night. There was never a lull in the energy and that is always highly commendable when well executed by a DJ.

Reel 2 Real

I was completely caught of guard by the next artist that came out. The Mad Stuntman of Madagascar fame himself! His larger than life personality and tremendous presence instantly brought the energy levels way up and goddamn – did we move it, move it. In a single song he captivated every person in the crowd and had them eating out of his hands.


Up next were the UK’s electronic sensation, N-Trance. Once again we felt ourselves lifted to another level. Their set was so infectious that I found myself dancing against my will. Those who know me, know that I never dance (my wife can vouch for that). However when the beats are this good, the body reacts without consulting the mind. Electronic Pleasure is more than just a song, it’s the perfect description of what seeing N-Trance live feels like.

Alice DJ

Leaving the UK we crossed the ocean with the next act coming all the way from Holland. The Eurodance chart toppers, Alice DJ. With every new artist that came on stage the venue seemed to keep getting fuller and fuller, with an endless stream of patrons pouring in. They had the audience singing at the top of their lungs along to the smash hit, Better Off Alone and had us all moving in unison with simple yet effective dance moves that the crowd, including myself, was happy to comply with.


I realise I’m repeating myself by this point but once again the energy in the room rose as the crowd roared as Whigfield aka Sannie Charlotte Carlson took to the stage. With songs like Sexy Eyes and Saturday Night the crowd was enthralled. These songs have been around for nearly 3 decades and in that time, they have lost absolutely none of their appeal to an audience that loved them just as much today as they did back in the 90’s.


 The lights dimmed and a video played across the screen as a loud commanding voice narrated the words appearing on-screen. In what can only be described as an unreasonably epic intro, we were being hyped up for the headliners. The one, the only, Vengaboys. Bursting on to the stage in flamboyant and fluorescent attire they made their grand entrance, heralded by a flash of pyrotechnics. They went straight into Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom and the crowd sang louder than the sound system could keep up with.

The set wasn’t just their hits, but a non stop collection of some of the biggest dance songs and remixes of all time.

The set was closed with, We Like to Party and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that each and everyone of us was aboard the Venga Bus, as massive inflatable balloons descended from the ceiling of the Forum Theatre. The word nostalgia is defined as; a feeling evocative of a longed-for past time or condition – and that is exactly what seeing the Vengaboys made us feel.

Years ago when many of the artists I saw tonight first emerged, a lot of people, including myself thought that they might be a passing fad or even a little gimmicky. Maybe Eurodance and Techno was nothing more than a trend. However, no gimmick or trend can endure for 25 years, and then proceed to sell out two shows in a row.

What is it that makes an act like Vengaboys not just endure but thrive for as long as they have? Having witnessed it for myself I think I know the answer. This music makes you feel good. It brings people together and for a moment your problems go away and you are all united in the same warm, fuzzy emotion. And that my friends, is something that will never go out of style.

This review is dedicated in loving memory to my dear friend and brother, Jacob Ngahere. Let us always remember the party.




​Remaining Dates: 

Thursday 16 February
​Big Top | Sydney, NSW


Friday 17 February
​Waves | Wollongong, NSW

​On sale: Wednesday 14 December (2pm AEDT)

Saturday 18 February
​Hindley Street Music Hall | Adelaide, SA


Sunday 19 February
​Metro City | Perth, WA


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[Review] Red Hot Chili Peppers @ Marvel Stadium, Melbourne 07/02/2023

Having been to many gigs of bands from various genres, I’ve found myself noticing the fans as much as I pay attention to the musicians. Different artists tend to attract different age demographics and usually the fans of the band will also mirror the fashion sense and general style of their idols. Today, however, was an exception. There was no one-word generic description that applied to the congregation gathered at Marvel Stadium. Everybody was here, and the reason for that, is that everybody loves the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Post Malone was a special guest on this tour with the Peppers and many of the fans had turned up early to ensure that they wouldn’t be late for his set. It was a performance jam packed with some of the biggest hits of his career, including songs like Better Now, I Fall Apart, Rockstar and Sunflower.  Post Malone performs with so much passion and intensity and you can feel the love from his audience. After every song he takes the time to reiterate how much he appreciates the support from his fans and from the response you can clearly see that the feeling is mutual.

During an acoustic performance of Stay he invited a lucky fan to join him on stage to play the guitar while he sang. In true blue Aussie fashion, Post Malone even took the time to do a “shoey” which won him even more of the crowd’s approval. His fans love his music but I think they love him even more because of how much he cares for them and makes them feel special.

Fans of the Red Hot Chili Peppers have been waiting for well over a decade for the reunion of the band and guitarist John Frusciante. The funky monks were back together again, and I was lucky enough to be among the fans that witnessed their return. John Frusciante, Flea and Chad Smith strode out on stage and immediately went into one of their signature improvised jams that they are well-renown for. The chemistry and artistry were incredible to see live. Constantly feeding off each other, they conversed musically while building the tension for what was to come next. As the jam came to its apex, Chad Smith signaled the transition with a roll on his snare and Anthony Kiedis and the band entered seamlessly into Can’t Stop and following that up with Universally Speaking.

Many years ago I watched a live DVD of the Peppers performing at Slane Castle. That show is one of the single greatest live performances I have ever seen and all these years later watching them, it was as if the years that passed have had no effect on them. They sang, they played, they danced with the same joy as someone who had discovered music for the first time.

I could write endlessly about how impressive each member of the Peppers are but it is truly so captivating when they play together that I was undoubtedly awestruck. Four separate musicians who almost appear to connect with each other on a telepathic level. Playing with a level of virtuosity usually only seen by jazz veterans, and yet they find a way to deliver it so that their music is instantly accessible by anyone.

Crowd favourites, Californication and By The Way drew some of the most raucous responses of the night and I felt the floor of the stadium quake as tens of thousands of fans danced the night away. Just as our fluttering hearts felt like they could take no more, the Red Hot Chili Peppers returned to the stage for an encore and rewarded us with Under The Bridge and Give It Away. This was much more than a gig, it was a tick-it-off-the-bucket-list event. I never imagined the day would come when I would get to see the Peppers with this line up and now that I have, I’m still pinching myself as I reminisce.

There is an old joke about jazz music; it says that a jazz band is a group of musicians who are enjoying themselves more than the audience. In the case of the Peppers, we the fans clearly enjoy bearing witness to their artistry – yet I have a strange feeling that somehow they still might be having a better time than all of us. After all these years they still exude so much joy in playing their music with each other. This is the reason they started a band. This is the reason I fell in love with playing music. And that my friends, is nothing short of pure magic.

You can still catch Red Hot Chili Peppers one more time in Melbourne before they head off to Perth for the final show of this tour. 

Thursday 9th Feb 2023 @ Marvel Stadium, Melbourne

Sunday 12th Feb 2023 @ Optus Stadium, Perth

Tickets available here

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Gig ReviewsReviews

Sleeping With Sirens @ Max Watts, Melbourne 1/12/2022

It was a delightfully cool evening that heralded the start of summer as I arrived at Max Watts, 30 mins before the doors were to be opened. A long queue had already formed and snaked it’s way around the corner and down the alley like a magnificent, black veiled, rainbow serpent.

Emo, Metalcore, Post-Hardcore, none of these labels mattered tonight. All that mattered was that Sleeping With Sirens were in Melbourne and had sold out the venue.

 First up were Melbourne’s very own, Bad/Love. Having just completed a tour in October supporting Stepson, the boys were in fine form and delivered a killer, high energy set from start to finish. Their guitarist appeared to have had some technical issues early in the set but the band smoothly continued while it was sorted out and didn’t miss a beat. The crowd responded enthusiastically towards the band and even got a circle pit going mid set.

After some initial delays due to technical issues, The Beautiful Monument took to the stage and delivered a set that was like a soundtrack to an emotional roller coaster. Songs akin to a cocktail of heartbreak and angst resonated with the audience as vocalist Lizi Blanco managed to simultaneously capture both joy and sorrow in her performance.

While we waited for Sleeping With Sirens to take the stage several ABBA songs were played over the sound system much to the crowds delight. They gleefully sang along, loud and proud to know all the lyrics. I guess no matter what genre of music you are into, we can safely assume everybody loves ABBA.

At 9:40pm the lights dimmed and the crowd screamed as Matty Best took to the drums and gradually built upon the tension in the room with a series of well executed drum fills. As he reached a crescendo the whole band ran out on stage. Kellin Quinn acknowledged the crowd and was rewarded with a raucous reception as the band began playing, Break me down.

Sleeping with Sirens performed with a frenetic energy as Kellin swung his microphone from his neck and bassist Justin Hills ran around giving high fives to members of the audience. By their 3rd song, Leave it all behind, the crowd had transformed into a sea of undulating bodies creating a marriage of synchronicity and chaos.

Circle pits and mosh pits spontaneously erupted and we even got to see the infamous wall of death as they performed Complete Collapse and Crosses off their new album. Aggressive, groove driven verses gave bloom to anthemic choruses that the fans were all too eager to sing along to. From their reaction it seems the fans not only approve but absolutely adore the new material.

Despite all the moshing the crowd seemed respectful of each other at all times and there was a sense of camaraderie among the fans. This sentiment was further reinforced when Kellin made a heartfelt speech about self worth and being there for each other. We were even treated to a little acoustic set performed by Kellin Quinn and guitarist, Tony Pizzuti which included a tasteful cover of Iris by The Goo Goo Dolls.

Ending on a high note they played Bloody knuckles off the new record and the fan favourite If I’m James Dean, You’re Audrey Hepburn. Sleeping with Sirens definitely have some of the most passionate fans I’ve ever seen and it seems to me that to them these aren’t just songs, but Anthems for those who don’t belong. And for them Kellin Quinn isn’t just a vocalist, but the voice of their generation.

If tonight’s performance was anything to go by then I can confidently say that we’re in for one hell of a day at Good Things Festival.

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