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[Review] Papa Roach / The Used @ Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne 24/04/2023

Review By Lynda Buchanan

It was a warm Monday night in Melbourne, and while most people may have been preparing for a quiet evening at home, the music lovers of the city had other plans. They were flocking to Margaret Court Arena to witness a double headline show with two of the most influential bands in the emo/punk rock genre – The Used and Papa Roach.  

The Used and Papa Roach are veteran names in the industry and have amassed a devoted fan base that has been with them for over twenty years. The fact that they are sharing the stage for a double headline show is a testament to their lasting popularity and remarkable musical talent. As the venue filled up with eager fans, the excitement in the air was thick. 

Taking the stage to kick off the night were the energetic Japanese rockers, coldrain. Making their long-awaited return to Australia after an eight-year hiatus. Having never witnessed coldrain before, I was immediately drawn to lead singer Masato Hayakawa, his vocal range is truly amazing. The band treated the audience to an energetic setlist, showcasing tracks from their latest album, Nonnegative, as well as fan favourites from The Side Effects and The Revelation.  

coldrain’s performance set the perfect tone for the evening, effectively warming up the crowd and leaving a lasting impression. Proving why they were the ideal choice to open the show. Here is hoping we don’t have to wait another 8 years to see these musicians again.  

After a brief intermission, the excitement in the room heightened as The Used, took to the stage. They opened their set with Take It Away, a crowd favourite from their album In Love and Death, and the band was met with an outpouring of cheers. 

McCracken reminded the audience that at a Used emo show, they were allowed to be themselves, and nobody would judge them. He then launched into Blow Me, which had the crowd dancing and singing along. The circle pits were in full swing as the band played their music, and the crowd was more than willing to participate. When the familiar sounds of The Used new single from their upcoming album, Toxic Positivity, called F**k You rang out across the venue, the audience joined Bret and stuck their middle fingers in the air. 

Taste Of Ink was followed by the slower All That I’ve Got, which had the crowd singing along with full vigour. The band took a moment to celebrate the birthday of their lighting guy, Jeff, with a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday, which included a humorous ending with McCracken claiming it was his birthday too! 

The audience was treated to The Used’s latest single, Numb, with Bert giving them an unusual request – to boo instead of cheer at the end of the song. The crowd found it amusing and gladly complied. 

Jacoby Shaddix from Papa Roach took the stage by surprise to perform Blood On My Hands alongside Bert, and you could see all the phones go up throughout the audience to capture this surprise appearance forever. The band’s guitarist, Joey Bradford, showcased his skills with an incredible solo during the performance of Pretty Handsome Awkward. A request from the audience that McCracken, do a shoey. To which of course he obliged, catching the shoe that was thrown on stage and filling it with Red Bull before chugging it down. The crowd cheered and laughed in approval, adding to the overall high energy of the night. 

As the set drew to a close, the band rocked out to A Box Full Of Sharp Objects, giving drummer Dan Whitesides the opportunity to show off his drumming expertise. The set culminated in a mashup with Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, leaving the audience pumped and energized. 

McCracken finished the show with a bang, hurling himself into the crowd and ending the epic performance on a high note. The audience was now nice and warmed up, ready for the Papa Roach

Excited yells rang though the air as the lights dimmed, and Jacoby Shaddix led Papa Roach onto the stage. A giant white cockroach loomed over the black backdrop behind them, and without missing a beat, the band launched into Kill the Noise from their newest release EGO TRIP, and it was crystal clear that Melbourne had missed Papa Roach dearly. 

As Jacoby launched into Getting Away With Murder, he asked the audience, “Melbourne, how the f**k are you feeling tonight?” and the crowd erupted in cheers. As Jerry Horton shredded out his solo, Jacoby continued, “Let me see those horns in the f**king sky!” Shaddix declared how rock n roll saved him, and it was clear from the crowd’s reaction that many of them felt the same way. 

Another new song Cut The Line from the new album EGO TRIP was next. Jacoby explained that he wrote the song with the mosh pit in mind. “F**k yeah, it feels amazing to play that new shit,” Jacoby exclaimed, grinning from ear to ear as the crowd cheered and began to headbang in unison. 

In  nod to their musical influences, the band played The Prodigy’s Firestarter and the Ramones’ Hey Ho Let’s Go intro before launching into I Wanna Be Loved as Jacoby took the chance to connect with the crowd and ventured out into the seated section of the audience, managing to navigate the entire venue while singing to and along with the crowd.  

Upon returning to the stage, Jacoby took a moment to deliver an uplifting message of hope and resilience, telling the crowd. “Show up for yourselves every day, you are worth it, no matter what your head says to you, no matter what the world says to you. That’s a fact, y’all!” and that pain is only temporary. The audience were clearly moved as the band played Scars while everyone lit up Margaret Court Arena with a sea of phone lights.  

The stage was ignited with energy as Bert McCracken made a surprise appearance during No Apologies. His unique vocal style and vibrant stage presence complemented Jacoby’s seamlessly. However, the collaborations didn’t stop there. Recently, Papa Roach concluded their much-anticipated Amazing Things tour in the UK, where they shared the stage with fellow rockers, Don Broco. As luck would have it, Don Broco will also be touring Australia very soon and had arrived early. So, to the delight of the Melbourne crowd, Rob Damiani joined Papa Roach for Between Angels & Insects. This was an amazing opportunity for Rob to give the audience a taste of what they will be seeing next week, and I have no doubt there were a few ticket sales as “Bobby Damage” left it all on the stage and earnt Don Broco new fans across Melbourne. 

As the sounds of Last Resort echo across the arena, the crowd becomes even more frenzied, if that was even possible. The audience screams the lyrics of the chorus back in unison and Jacoby stands back and takes it all in, basking in the moment. This is the magic of live music, and it’s a beautiful thing to witness. 

In that fleeting moment, as the band took their final bow, the appreciation was thick in the air, both from the performers and crowd. It was an unspoken agreement that each had given their all, leaving nothing behind. The audience departed with hearts brimming with happiness, their souls nourished by the events that they had just witnessed. 

It’s not uncommon for artists who have been around for a while, particularly those who have made their mark in the emo and pop-punk scenes, to be written off as being past their prime. But the performances by The Used and Papa Roach proved beyond any doubt that they still have what it takes to captivate a crowd and leave them wanting more. 

Their new music is just as powerful and relevant as their past hits, proving that these bands are far from being mere nostalgia acts. It was an amazing night that showcased the lasting appeal and talent of these two incredible bands, leaving the Melbourne crowd begging for more. 

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[Review] Larkin Poe @ Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne 10/04/2023

Review By Lynda Buchanan

When you attend a Larkin Poe concert, you know you’re in for a wild ride. The sisters, Rebecca and Megan Lovell, are known for their electrifying performances and their ability to get the crowd on their feet. Their concert at the Croxton Bandroom in Thornbury as part of the Bluesfest Festival was no exception.

First up to entertain the packed bandroom was the indigenous singer/songwriter, Benny Walker, hailing from regional Victoria, he effortlessly warmed up the crowd alongside his band mates on drums and keys, with his own brand of blues rock that did not disappoint.

Next up, the sisters the crowd had been waiting for started off with a bang as Larkin Poe took the stage and launched into Strike Gold, a fiery and infectious track that showcases the sisters’ incredible musical talent and songwriting skills. The song opens with a pulsing drumbeat and Rebecca’s soaring vocals, immediately drawing the listener in.

Lyrically, Strike Gold is a celebration of the sisters’ journey as musicians, and their determination to continue creating music despite any obstacles they may face. The line “ain’t nobody gonna stop us now” is a testament to their resilience and their refusal to give up on their dreams.

Summertime Sunset, She’s a Self-Made Man & Southern Comfort from their latest album release Blood Harmony features their signature blues-rock sound with gritty guitar riffs and dynamic vocals which seemed to leave the crowd begging for more.

Watching Larkin Poe perform Link Wray’s Rumble was an exhilarating experience, as the Lovell sisters brought their unique blend of blues and rock to this classic track. As they launched into the iconic riff, the audience erupted in cheers and applause, and it was clear that these sisters had the power to bring any crowd to it’s feet. But what really stood out was the sheer fun these girls were having on stage.  Overall, the sister’s rendition of Rumble was a testament to their incredible musicianship and their ability to breathe new life into classic tracks. They know how to rock, and they do it with an infectious energy and sense of joy that is impossible not to be swept up in.

After a quick shout-out to Benny Walker for getting the crowd warmed up, Rebecca spilled the beans on their track Holy Ghost Fire. Apparently, it was co-written with one of their favourite songwriters, Tyler Bryant, lead vocalist and guitarist of Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown. It’s always nice to have a little help from your friends, especially when they know how to bring the heat like Tyler does.

Larkin Poe‘s performance of Back Down South was a wild and energetic affair. The band’s Southern blues-rock sound was in full force, with Rebecca’s powerful vocals and Megan’s nimble guitar work setting the stage for, what was fast becoming, an unforgettable show. As they launched into the song’s infectious chorus, the crowd couldn’t help but sing and clap along, caught up in the song’s irresistible energy. The band’s chemistry was profound, with the sisters locking in tight on the song’s intricate guitar lines and vocal harmonies.

Bleach Blonde Bottle Blues from Larkin Poe’s 2018 album Venom & Faith, was a highlight of their set, showcasing the band’s bluesy swagger and tight musicianship. The song’s driving rhythm and catchy hooks had the crowd on their feet from the first note, with Rebecca’s gritty vocals and Megan’s scorching guitar solos stealing the show. As the song ended, the crowd erupted into cheers and applause. It was a reminder of the enduring appeal of classic rock and roll, and a testament to the band’s talent and musicianship.

Larkin Poe’s impromptu performance of Mad as a Hatter was a testament to the band’s musical prowess and spontaneity. An audience member’s request was met with enthusiastic applause, and the sisters wasted no time in launching into the song’s infectious groove. This song, originally written about their grandfather when the sisters were 15, carries quite the powerful statement from a band that refuses to shy away from difficult topics, and is a testament to their incredible musicianship and passion for their craft. Mad as a Hatter was like a shot of musical adrenaline straight to the veins – exhilarating, intense, and just a little bit mad.

As the concert drew to a close, Larkin Poe kept the energy high with a rowdy performance of another song from their new album, Boltcutters & The Family Name. The crowd sang along at the top of their lungs while Rebecca shredded on her guitar with reckless abandon. As the song came to a close, the audience erupted into cheers and applause, clearly moved by the electrifying performance.

And just when everyone thought the concert was over, Larkin Poe returned to the stage for an encore. The performance of Deep Stays Down was a poignant and emotional way to close out their show. As the sisters took to the stage for their final song of the night, sans guitars, the audience was spellbound by the raw emotion and vulnerability that the Lovell sisters poured into their vocal performance before adorning their instruments for the final time that night.

As the final notes of Deep Stays Down rang out through the venue, the audience was left with a sense of release, as if the song had touched something deep within them. It was a fitting end to a night of powerful and passionate music, and a reminder of the incredible talent and artistry that Larkin Poe brings to every performance. It’s a testament to the power of music to connect with our deepest emotions and experiences, and a reminder of the incredible talent and passion of these two remarkable artists.

All in all, Larkin Poe’s concert at the Croxton was a night to remember. The sisters’ talent, humour, and stage presence were a winning combination that left the crowd eager to take in every song that came their way with most of the room leaving their phones in their pockets and just experiencing the night, you can’t help but leave wanting more. If you have the chance to see Larkin Poe live, don’t miss it – just be sure to wear your dancing shoes and stretch out those guitar-playing muscles.

For now, I will leave you with Rebecca’s parting words to the adoring punters. “Never let them take the fight out of you. Whatever that fight is in your heart, keep it strong

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