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[Review] Nothing But Thieves @ Hordern Pavilion, Sydney 30/04/2024

Conor Mason, Joe Langridge-Brown, Dominic Craik, Philip Blake, and James Price, collectively known as Nothing But Thieves, blew the roof off The Hordern Pavilion, kicking off their tour in a rainy Sydney with a performance that was nothing short of spectacular. As the first show of their Welcome to The DCC Pt2 tour and with the entire Dead Club City album under their belt, anticipation ran high, the band delivered an unforgettable evening.

A prerecorded call on the speakers to “Give it up for Nothing but Thieves” set the tone for the night – one of unbridled passion and raw talent. Despite it being less than 12 months since the Essex lads sold out an Aussie run, the atmosphere crackled with energy from the moment the band took the stage, opening with the anthemic Welcome to the DCC that immediately had the crowd on their feet.

The setlist was a carefully curated blend of fan favorites and tracks from Dead Club City, showcasing the band’s evolution over the years. Songs like Is Everybody Going Crazy? and Sorry resonated deeply with the audience, their infectious melodies and powerful lyrics stirring emotions.

One of the highlights of the evening was the performance of Lover Please Stay, a ballad that hadn’t been played live in quite some time. The intimate moment, with Langridge-Brown seated on the drum riser and Mason bathed in spotlight, was a poignant reminder of the band’s versatility and emotional depth.

As the night progressed, the energy only intensified, with tracks like Trip Switch and Futureproof sending the crowd into a frenzy of limbs. The unexpected appearance of a rogue balloon floating above the pit, only to conjure Pop the Balloon added to the excitement, with Blake’s bass reverberating through our chests.

For the encore, Nothing But Thieves treated us to a raucous rendition of Oh No :: He Said What?, exuding Michael Jackson Thriller vibes that had everyone dancing. Mason giggled on the microphone saying “if we enjoyed that, you’ll LOVE the next” as they kicked into gear with crowd favourite Amsterdam.

Throughout the night, Nothing But Thieves demonstrated why they are one of the most captivating live acts in the industry and why Aussies flood to their shows. Their musicianship was impeccable, their stage presence magnetic, and their connection with the audience palpable. Many times throughout the performance I found myself blown away with Mason’s vocal technique and talent.

During the final song, Overcome, I couldn’t help but notice the heartwarming sight of friends, lovers, siblings, and even newfound companions grabbing each other to dance together. In that moment, the music united us all, transcending barriers and differences. It was a fleeting yet profound instance where everything in the world felt perfect, and nothing could dim the brilliance of that moment. Overcome served as a powerful shot of positivity, reminding us all of the transformative power of music and its ability to bring people together in harmony.

With their Dead Club City tour in full swing, Nothing But Thieves have once again proven why they are a force to be reckoned with in the world of alternative rock. Brisbane and Auckland are already sold out! If you have the chance to catch them live, don’t hesitate – it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

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[Review] Live and Incubus @ Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne 14/04/2024

When confronted with a lineup featuring Incubus and Live, I definitely thought that Incubus would have the bigger Australian fan base, having been regular visitors to our shores over the last 15 years or so (this is my 4th go round with Incubus).  So I was surprised to see Incubus coming on first and having the slightly shorter set of the two.  There is a lot to be said for a dual headlining show – all thriller, no filler and I was excited to be seeing 2 excellent bands on the one bill.

Incubus appeared just a couple of minutes after the prescribed time and there was no mistaking when charismatic frontman/heart throb Brandon Boyd took the stage as the cheer was a loud one.  Sporting long hair these days and a seriously dodgy 70’s porn star mustache which should be shaved off immediately, he nonetheless cuts a fine figure at the front of the stage.  The VIP setup for this gig was a strange one.  On each side of the stage was a little fenced off area where 20 or so excited die-hards stood awkwardly waiting for the show to start – well I guess you can’t get much closer than that for your money. 

After a short instrumental introduction, the familiar scratchy scratchy intro to Nice to Know You began with Brandon adding his breathy beat box over the top.  I love this song and from the enthusiastic singing of the assembled, I am not alone – Goodbye, nice to know you.  Following along on the all thriller, no filler theme, next up was the incomprehensible Anna Molly.  I swear I have only just discovered as I write this, that this was the song title.  For years, I thought it was Indubitably.  En-unc-iat-ion, please.

Sick Sad Little World was next featuring a long instrumental interlude which gave Brandon a chance to shake his skinny booty and brought Chris Kilmore out from behind his decks to spin what must be 30+ years of dreads in a circle headbang.   Speaking of Circles, this song from the wonderful Morning View album of 2002 was up next and gave new girl, bassist Nicole Row a chance to show her chops.

Is it my imagination or did it suddenly get very hot in here?  To the strains of The Beatles’ Come Together, Brandon shed his t-shirt and I had to remind myself that I was here for the music.  Come Together was not the only cover of this set.  Are You In morphed midway and seamlessly into Riders on the Storm from the Doors, and back again without skipping a beat.  They also did a short, sexy cover of Glory Box by Portishead, and one of my faves, Let’s Dance by David Bowie.

After a hit packed, but all too short set, Incubus finished on a definite high with the singalong favourite – Drive.  This brought Brandon and guitarist Mike Einziger down to the front of the stage for an acoustic intro.  The audience singing could be heard clearly over the music – Would you choose water over wine, hold the wheel and drive.  It was a given that the set would end with Wish You Were Here.

I Googled Live yesterday and a live version of all the music my husband and I watch on Youtube on a Saturday night over the pool table came up, but no Live the band.  I had to delve way deeper down the Google wormhole to find Live the band.  Probably a poor choice of a band name in this digital age but as they have been going in one form or another since the early 80’s when the world wide web was just a concept in an English computer lab, you can’t blame them. 

My experience with Live begins and ends with the hits.  I love me some post grunge, alternative rock (as Wikipedia describes their style) but some Live songs skirt just a wee bit close to country for my liking.  And tonight, Ed Kowalczyk explained why that is.  Hailing from York, a town in Southern Pennsylvania, an area that is known as Pennsyltucky as it shares a border with West Virginia and there to the Southern states of Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama and explains why “I talk funny” says Ed.  And yes, there is a definite southern twang in his voice.  “I hope all y’all are having a good time.” 

If anything, the floor of MCA is more tightly packed for Live than it was for Incubus.  Their set started with the radio friendly Hold Me Up, followed by the very recognizable All Over You which brought a massive singalong from the packed house which continued for Selling the Drama whose lyrics read like a passage from the bible.  Although not known as a Christian band, Christian themes seem to appear regularly in Ed’s lyrics. 

The Dolphin’s Cry was up next and has there ever been a more melodramatic song title in all of rock?!  I think not.  The mullet in a flanny sitting in front of me was in raptures and much fist pumping and finger pointing accompanied this song. 

The next song Ed says was a new one, Leave the Radio On.  It began innocently enough but after a few bars, I heard a sound that made my heart drop and my jaw clench – slide guitar.  You’ve just crossed the line.  The hits of Live with a grungy feel had always made me think that Ed Kowalczyk was more Billy Corgan than Billy Ray Cyrus but I may have been mistaken. 

The main set finished with the wonderful Lakini’s Juice.  A constant on the Triple M playlist and a masterpiece of post grunge angst.  Ed was winning me back and the 2 song encore featuring I Alone and Lightning Crashes had the mullet in a flanny, AND me leaving MCA with a smile on our faces (not together….EEEEWWW).

So my takeaways from this gig is that co-headlining tours are awesome.  Great value for money (and let’s face it, concert tickets in Australia are getting RIDICULOUSLY expensive) and shorter sets are guaranteed to be packed to the gunnels with hits and the songs the fans want to hear.  Promoters of Aus – More Please!

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