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[Review] Slowthai @ 170 Russell, Melbourne 08/02/2023

I was lucky enough to catch Slowthai last time he appeared down under, way back in 2019 at Listen Out festival in St Kilda. I remembered death circles, surprises, drugs and rage, and it was a joy to see and hear. When I heard the UK rapper was finally making his return to Australia, I knew I had to catch up with Tyron and see how he’d evolved as a performer. And well, he’s grown.

The 28-year-old rapper, Northhampton raised rose to popularity in 2019 along with his Nothing Great About Britain album and hits like T N Biscuits. Following up two years later with a killer sophomore release in TYRON, Thai is now preparing to drop his third record, with several dope singles already released and a tour to prime us for more.

Returning again to 170 Russell, I was impressed by the sold out venue’s ability to still have keen line of sight vision from almost every corner of the room. The stage was clearly visible even from the bar, but the choice to maintain a low level of light with a red background turned the whole thing into a dingy future-punk stage show.

Fantastic crowd connection was the key to Slowthai’s tight, one hour set. No opener, no DJ warmup. 10pm Slowthai hit the stage and set the crowd alight. Opening with his newest single, Feel Good, takins us right into what makes Thai a vibe. Punk drums, distorted bass, grimy bars. Backing it up with his controversial hit CANCELLED, which moved into a freestyle verse, he quickly dismissed it “probably the worst freestyle I’ve ever done”. Now in this moment, he could’ve made it awkward, but embraced the weirdness with the classic Freddie Mercury operatic crowd call and response.

Enjoying his control over the audience, Slowthai set a rule. Side A, when called would shout “Fuck off”. Side B, “cunt” and the people up the back, “dickhead”. A hilarious call to arms for the people, every few songs he shuffled between calling for all the areas to shout their chosen chant. And to top it off, he randomly went into a sing-along of ElvisCan’t Help Falling In Love, and a crowd of twenty-somethings knew every word.

Switching it up with his Bernard Herrmann inspired horrorcore banger Psycho, featuring Denzel Curry, the crowd was knocking yet again. Choosing controversy yet again, the UK rapper then decide to tell us that his hometown biscuit, Penguin, was better than Australia’s Tim Tam. Bizarre, angry hilarity ensued.

From this point, the hits didn’t stop. Deal Wiv It, the Mura Masa hit, followed by the Gorillaz goofy rager Momentary Bliss, Desire and the cherry on top, the modern classic: Doorman. Many, many epic nights with my friends have started or ended with a singalong of this song. “Door man, let me in the door. Spent all my money you ain’t getting no more”. The kickass drums, the awesome descending bassline, the distorted narration sample of some old punk documentary, the whole track is a vibe.

Leaving Slowthai, the air was thick with sweat, pot and joy. Every single member of the audience was feeling the beat, channelling the energy and craving more. And knowing I’m going to be seeing him again this weekend at Laneway, I’m already ecstatic with excitement

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[Review] City and Colour @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 09/02/2023

It’s been seven long years since Canadian, alt-rock singer-songwriter Dallas Green last graced Australian shores, and it was no wonder his one-night-only at The Forum was filled to the brink. Being recognisable to Aussie audiences for his solo venture City and Colour, this was set to be a triumphant return – a night of some of the strongest rock instrumentals layered with signature heart-wrenching lyricism.

Dallas’ audiences are unmistakable. Humble and kind, yet visibly so passionate about the music. Entering the space felt safe, calm and familiar – quite abnormal for a rock show – with the buzz of individuals reconnecting over a shared love of live music, and a heavy passion for rock.

Many artists on a solo venture will try to distance themselves from their past, but having Dooms Children open the show was the perfect decision. Old bandmate and much loved ‘brother’ Wade MacNeil’s solo project is heavy psychedelia, with a hint of blues and hard-hitting lyricism – and the crowd adored it.

As the five-piece band of old rockers entered the stage, you could tell they’d been here before. The quiet confidence, steady beat, and emotive guitar riffs felt grounded and calming, before suddenly being hit with a surge of husky vocals chanting haunting lyrics. The entire set boasted a highly cinematic feel – with the broad emotions of band being easily read, and exceedingly relatable.

Dooms Children’s set closely mimicked being pulled under vicious waves, for every time you’d come up for air, an entirely new and consuming sound would follow. There was something so fresh about the psychedelic feel of the contrasting sounds between the instruments; and the dimly lit, slow moving spotlights and smoke added to the dazed and confused sensation that followed the songs.

Psyche Hospital Blues was a standout, with distorted keys and mumbled vocals creating the signature psychedelic sound. Each individual instrument could be heard and stood perfectly alone, but when brought together with the band created something totally moving. The whole set connected perfectly like one long film.

Following was several songs from the breakout, self-titled album. Skeleton Beach, a calm and melodic tune showcased some gorgeous harmonies, whilst Wade worked the crowd to the palm of his hand – smirking proudly as the lyrics were being sung out with such passion. Friend of the Devil closed out the set, filled with recognisable descending scales, creating a sense of security before throwing the crowd off with ambiguous, seemingly random notes and lyrics. ‘A friend of the devil is a friend of mine’ being chanted repetitively, with steadily increasing tempo backing the drawn-out rock jam. Being so brazenly comfortable with his guitar and his vocals, Dooms Children is sure to be a talking point throughout the rock community for years to come.

The tension was palpable as The Forum drew quiet, craving the main act of the night, City and Colour.  With the backing band returning, front man Dallas Green made his humble beginning, with ‘thanks for being here’ being the only words needed – as the music to come would speak for itself.

Kicking off with Meant to Be, the slow-moving autumn colours paired with acoustic guitar and sublime vocals – the crowd enthralled. From the outset Dallas’ vocal range was astonishing, the voice that has cemented him as one of the greats of rock music. The song’s intensity increased steadily, mimicking a heavy heartbeat and directing the unconscious movement of the crowd. 

Moving uninterrupted from one song to the next, Living in Lightning was paired with an enchanting ceiling of purple light, fitting for the slow and steady beat, overlays of gorgeous bass riffs, and heavy ringing electric guitar. Hypnotic, repetitive keys moved steadily into his next song. ‘When I think of fates worse than death, all I can think of was something you said’, Thirst details an intimate relationship, and the vulnerabilities in self-criticism. This universal feeling could be seen on the faces of the band as they put their heart and soul into the jarring, heavy rock ballad.

The music never ceased, as the band rolled into the sultry, bass-driven fan-favourite, Northern Blues. A complete drop of light between verse and chorus providing a visual representation of the lyrics. Strangers was the point of the night where it was clear the audience were becoming totally immersed in the music, almost hypnotised by the synchronicity of the band. Every hit of the kick drum prompting the crowd’s uninhibited movement. 

After a half hour of interminable music, Dallas took to the mic to address the crowd. ‘This song is about trying to be kinder to each other’… his message is clear, nothing further needed to be said. We Found Each Other in the Dark was angelic, and a highlight of the evening.

A complete change of pace came with the emotionally charged, guitar heavy, Weightless. Paired with piercing red strobe, the ironic weight of the song rocked the venue with such velocity, building towards an abrupt blackout. ‘I’m tired of everyone saying I’m this sad motherfucker… I’m just singing about what’s real’ – These words reigned so true as Hello, I’m in Delaware provided a moving commentary on fame and living life on the road. The emotion of Dallas’ music is not only drawn from the content of his lyrics, but in the authenticity they are delivered with.

Drawing towards the end of the set, Underground, the band’s latest record was welcomed with great reception. A new sound for the group, being highly layered and multidimensional, filled the room with a fresh, uplifted impression. A change of pace, Sorrowing Man packed with intimate jams left the crowd without a word, but with the hum of a final note ringing out – there was a thirst for more as the band departed the stage.

When City and Colour returned moments later for a generous encore, the energy hit a new high with the crowd suddenly surging forward, being drawn into the final songs of the night like a moth to a flame. The mainly acoustic encore provided space for the fans to sing side-by-side with the band. Comin’ Home and The Girl were highly nostalgic and imprinted on the hearts of his fans, as evident in every word and harmony that bounced from Dallas to the crowd, and then came bounding right back at him.

The stage lit up for the final song, the audience in clear view of the band. Sleeping Sickness left us with what did not feel like a ‘goodbye’, but a ‘see you soon’. A beautiful way of sending out what had been a breathtaking night. Above all else, the superb lyricism and lighting, and the adoring sea of fans – this night was about the music, which can only be described as perfect.

You can still catch City and Colour one more time for this tour in Brisbane.

Monday 13th Feb 2023 @ The Tivoli, Brisbane

Tickets available here

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[Review] Geoff Tate @ Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne 08/02/2023

It is a perfect Melbourne night as hundreds of punters stream into The Croxton Bandroom to see the most recognisable voice in progressive metal – Geoff Tate. It has been a few years since Geoff was here performing what is arguably the greatest concept album of all, Operation Mindcrime, in its entirety. Tonight’s offering was, Rage for Order and Empire, back-to-back which would be a sin to miss. The fans certainly voted with their hard earned, coming along for a night that knew no musical boundaries. Melbourne is the first stop for the tour and what a privilege to be the first to get our live music deprived ears acquainted with Mr Tate yet again. I took my spot front and centre and settled in for what would be a mind-blowing assault on the senses and God damn was I ready!  

Opening the nights proceedings were Melbourne four-piece metal outfit, Demonhead. After playing with Geoff in Europe late last year it was a given that they would get the coveted opening slot. I was instantly impressed with their ripping riffs and arse-kicking sound. They gave us a quick fire set of seven songs, each delivered with a new gut punch. It was clear from the moment they started they had fans in the crowd, lots of heads nodding in approval and singing along. Lead singer Dave was engaging with the crowd and certainly held their attention. Their sound is a good mix of thrash and your traditional metal, so if that is your thing go check them out. I picked up the vinyl edition of their latest offering Black Devil Lies on my way home and cannot wait to give it a spin!

The Croxton Bandroom was now buzzing with electricity, the voices were a little louder, the people a little sweatier as we counted the minutes until show time. The stage awash with a huge backdrop baring the name of the man himself Geoff Tate. As the house lights dropped the roar was deafening as the band took to the stage. It was the same line up as the Mindcrime show with only one new addition, Danny Laverde on Drums, who kept the show running like clockwork, never missing a beat. Let’s explore the rest of the band, they may be young, but they are seasoned professionals and have Geoff’s sound down to perfection. James Brown was on lead guitar shredding up a storm, Kieran Robertson, hailing from Glasgow, Scotland was a pocket rocket, he looked like a rock star and worked the stage like one. With funky hair, tattoos, and tight pants he was the epitome of cool and left no corner of the stage uncovered. My goodness, Jack Ross, also from Scotland, lit up the stage with his smile. Thoroughly enjoying every minute of his live time slapping his bass to within an inch of its life.  Nothing was overlooked on this tour, the lighting was top notch, the sound impeccable, kudos to all involved.

Enter the man, the myth, the legend, Geoff Tate, jumping straight into Rage for Order in its entirety. I asked Geoff ‘why Rage?’ in our last interview and his answer was “because I really wanted to” and I cannot think of a better reason. He worked through this dark album with such gusto and feeling, his voice in phenomenal form, never faltering all night, still hitting the high notes as he did in his prime. Stand outs for me from this album were Walk In The Shadows, Gonna Get Close to You, Surgical Strike and Screaming In Digital, but who am I kidding, every song was a stand out! To hear it from start to finish was a once in a lifetime experience and I am so glad I was a part of making history in Melbourne.  Geoff looked the epitome of cool in his patterned gold jacket, glasses and black Fedora, the hat coming on and off unlike the glasses which stayed tightly affixed all night.

After a short interval Geoff and the band were back, looking refreshed, sporting new threads and a new attitude. You could sense the darkness of Rage for Order had been checked at the door and the uplifting sounds of Empire were coming in hot. Geoff had a spring in his step as he launched into Best I Can, the crowd were lifting, and I could feel them creeping into my space, adrenaline pushing them forward wanting to get closer to their idol. Jet City Woman had the punters raising their voices to greet Geoff with a proper Melbourne sing-a-long and it did not go unnoticed. With no setlists needed Geoff joked when it was time to play Empire that he couldn’t remember the next song and asked us to remind him. We happily obliged as Geoff launched into the title track that set The Croxton alight. The masterpiece that is Silent Lucidity saw phone torches out and fans swaying while they sang, Geoff’s voice absolute perfection. Hand on Heart, One and Only and the amazing Anybody Listening? saw out Empire but still left us wanting more, all hungry for just ‘one more song’.

It didn’t take much chanting to bring the stage back to life and the familiar intro of Eyes of a Stranger had the band room in a frenzy. My singing voice was diminishing more by the second, could there be one more in the tank, we are all hopeful as screams rang out, and after a quick convo with the band they dive into Queen of The Reich almost raising the roof in the process, a definite fan favourite and perfect choice to finish out the night. Geoff’s screams hit with precision, each one delivered with chilling satisfaction, there was no place I would rather be, and I soaked up every second letting the songs of my youth wash over me feeling contentment radiating from within.   

With bows and waves goodbye from all, we were left to contemplate the enormity of what we had just witnessed, and I for one was already contemplating what albums might be next when we see Mr Tate return to our Australian shores.

You can still catch Geoff Tate one more time for this tour in Adelaide.

Thursday 10th Feb 2023 @ The Gov, Adelaide

Tickets available here

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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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[Review] Halestorm @ Enmore Theatre, Sydney 4/02/2023

It's been a while. Living over two hours north of Sydney, ongoing health issues and then covid restrictions combined to make my #giglife pretty much non-existent since 2019. Recently returning to review writing has given me the boost I needed to get back out amongst the living post pandemic. Halestorm and Theory (of a Deadman) live at the Enmore Theatre this weekend was my “return to normal life” concert. And what a gig! It was a Sold Out show in Sydney, the place was packed to the rafters and the crowd was hyped for a night of rock ‘n’ roll. The line to get into the Enmore Theatre ran down the street and around the corner in both directions.  As I waited for my friend to arrive, I people-watched and noted that it was an interesting demographic. From young kids possibly attending their first gig with their mum and or dad to older GenX and everything -and I mean everything- in-between. I determined that it's an intriguing and eclectic mixture of people who gravitate to and like Halestorm.

The Enmore Theatre finally opened its doors and the staff were well trained to get the crowd off the street and inside as quickly and as efficiently as possible. There was a big crowd at the merch table so it's obvious that music fans are more than happy to pay and support their favourite artists, that's an awesome thing to realise. Long Live Live Music!  My friend and I found a spot up the back near the sound and light techs, the general admission area was packed. 

It's showtime, and Canadian alt rockers Theory enter the stage. Apparently explaining the Of A Deadman part got tiresome to them so now it's just Theory, opened as the support act. It's a bit of a turnaround as Theory were the first band to take a young Halestorm on their first international tour with them as their support band, back in the day. Theory played a solid set of original and cover songs including fan favourites Rx (Medicate), Bad Girlfriend, new single Dinosaur and the Chris Isaac evergreen, Wicked Game. The sound mix had the drums vibrating through the floor and into your body which often made it difficult to clearly hear the vocals, but apart from that, it was an enjoyable set. The band were tight showing that they have been at this for a long time. Theory frontman, Tyler Connolly engaged and joked with the audience for about 45 minutes and warmed the crowd up for the main event.

Changeover was pretty quick, with a strange, somewhat eclectic selection of background music then after AC/DCs Hells Bells played over the speakers, the lights dimmed and American rockers Halestorm entered the stage to the welcoming cheers of the audience. Distorted guitar filled the room and the throaty scream from Lzzy Hale filled the theatre … “I'm Back From The Dead…” and we were off and running for a setlist filled with new and fan favourite tracks. It's exactly what I expected as Back From The Dead is the perfect song to open the set post-lockdown. Moving into Love Bites before playing new song, Wicked Ways to cheers from the audience. The crowd sang along with Lzzy to I Get Off followed by Brightside and current single, Mine from the Back From the Dead album (2022). The lights dimmed as the band exited and the stage crew brought a keyboard on stage. Lzzy returned, chatting with the audience as she began to play Break In, then moving into Dear Daughter, and Raise Your Horns. It was a short “acoustic” interlude where the audience sang along loudly, horns raised in the air and in lieu of a lighter, phone torches lit up. Joe Hottinger, guitarist, re-entered the stage once again as he played the opening riff to Familiar Taste of Poison, midway through, Bassist Josh Smith and Drummer Arejay Hale joined their bandmates building the intensity of the song until the end. 

Then it was time for Arejay’s drum solo. It was entertaining as always, and he elicited cheers and laughter as he brought on a set of oversized drumsticks and continued to play. It’s his schtick, he does it at every show and the crowd always seem to enjoy it as they did this time. 

Then Lzzy returns to the stage and asks, “Are you a Freak Like Me?” and the band burst into the song from the 2012 album A Strange Case Of… Flowing into 2018’s Back Vultures and rounding out the 75+_ minute set with the second single from the latest album, The Steeple

The lights went down, Halestorm exited the stage and the crowd began to cheer, chant and clap, imploring the band to return for an encore. They happily obliged, returning to play Here's To Us, Mayhem and I Miss The Misery. Picks and sticks were tossed into the crowd, the now obligatory band on stage with audience in the background pics were taken, someone handed them an Australian flag with the Halestorm logo on it, which they held up, thanking the Aussie fans for their patience and support during covid. 

The concert was everything that you would expect from a band of this calibre. Halestorm are one of the hardest working bands on the planet often playing in excess of 250 shows a year, they are professional and have perfected their particular style of show. Halestorm are a group who have kept that humble pub-band energy about them and they pull it off with aplomb. This was a short tour, in and out in three days, the three East Coast capital cities plus a couple of shows earlier in the week in NZ, then off to Japan. Lzzy mentioned during the concert that she was feeling tired and with their touring schedule, I’m not surprised, but she didn't show it. The band interacted with each other and with the crowd giving an energetic performance.

The intercommunication between Lzzy and Joe is almost cute as they vibe off each other with looks and smiles. Lzzy is multi-talented and as a frontwoman to a hard rock band, she is impressive and engaging. Some artists do outfit changes, Lzzy does guitar changes. As Gibson’s first female brand ambassador, with a stunning signature guitar, she is laying a path for young women in rock music. The #GuitarPorn at a Halestorm gig = #ChefsKiss. Joe Hottinger pulled out a couple of impressive lead guitar solos and Josh Smith's bass drove the rhythm with Arejays drumming.  At times the sound mix was way too bass forward for my liking. It was loud, but not painful or jarring. I’m probably being nit-picky, because quite honestly, I can't think of anything negative to say. 

At the end of the show they thanked and acknowledged their support act, Theory, and also acknowledged several fans in the front row who had followed them from city to city on this tour. If you've never seen Halesstorm perform live before, and you love a fun night out with a tight, entertaining pub-style rock band, then I highly recommend you do so next time they hit our sunny shores. 

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[Review] girl in red @ 170 Russell, Melbourne 25/01/2023

girl in red’s live concert was far from a one-woman-show – it was the unwavering energy of the fans, the band, and Marie herself, that when combined created the perfect storm. ‘Do you listen to girl in red?’ – the colloquialism that has become part of mainstream queer culture was truly bought to life with the night boasting hand-drawn tattoos, candy necklaces and many sets of locked lips. 

To warm up the eagerly awaiting crowd, many of whom had braved the concrete outside ‘Billboard’ nightclub for longer than ten hours, was Betty Taylor; the Sunshine Coast duo whose music has, until now, been an underground secret. The light blue wash over the two freestanding mics set the scene for the beautifully haunting harmonies that were to come. For the Indie pop rock band, fronted by Sophie Patrick and Kayla Smart, this was their first performance outside of their home state, a one-off, stripped back acoustic show. It would have been impossible to tell this was a first for the pair, as they delivered perfect synchronicity in both their vocals, and guitar accompaniment.

Lyrically, Betty Taylor was the perfect opening act for the young, queer crowd, as they sung heart-wrenching lyrics of love and loss. Lyrics such as ‘fuck you for forever hurting me’, sung in such smooth, calming tones felt straight out of a romance film, or music for walking in the rain. The heartache was universal.

Including snippets of relatable chit-chat with the crowd, the pair moved into Glitter and Bullshit, a song ‘about a man’, which was closely followed by a member of the crowd responding with ‘fuck men’. The interaction remained raw and playful from beginning to end.

The remainder of the set persisted as gorgeously modest, with dreamy, husky vocals and retro feel of electric guitar. Stalling, the first and only released Betty Taylor song left the crowd enchanted by the odd nostalgia, and the hypnotic way in which the pair moved with such synchronicity – as if they just knew how the music needed to be expressed in the body. Sweeping lights closed out the performance, illuminating the beautiful sea of humans who were now ready to share an extraordinary night together. 

 The heat of a thousand bodies grew from the back of the venue as Norwegian, indie pop singer-songwriter Marie Ulven Ringheim made her way to the stage. The opening night of the Australian leg of the If I Could Make It Go Quiet Tour, was about to kick off with an entirely sold-out show. The screams of the crowd were deafening as she made her way onto the stage, repetitively mumbling ‘Melbourne’. The room began to silence, adoring fans glued to her every move.

It all began with a violent hit of the drums – and suddenly the room erupted into absolute chaos. The deep, steady bass line of You Stupid Bitch rocking the room like a heartbeat working overtime. The indie-rock hit was the perfect way to kick off what was going to be a wild night, reminiscent of a 90s grunge band paired with deeply relatable lyrics about struggles with sexuality and mental health. The high energy of a room filled with passionate young people paired with frantic flashing lights was suggestive of the underlying themes of manic mental health. Marie left every piece of herself on stage from the absolute outset. Screaming the lyrics in unison with her fans and jumping until you could see the sweat rolling down her face, girl in red is a spectacle born for the stage.

It would be remiss not to mention the heat of the five-piece backing band that accompanied the entire length of the show. All just as high-energy as Marie herself, their musicality was both grunge and carefree, yet professional and melodic. The conclusion of the first song began what was a running theme of the show – a juxtaposing jump between feverish performance and casual conversation. The contrast of her hilarious rambles in a dimly lit room and the rockstar present during the songs showed the versatility of girl in red’s performance and the likely reason behind the passion of her adoring fans.

Following the energy of the first song, girls did not disappoint. Hearing the certified gold single live for the first time would have been a long time coming for this room of young queer women. The unashamed lyrics dealing with coming to terms with sexuality are a breath of fresh air in today’s heteronormative society.

A beautiful change of pace, ‘.’ was played largely acoustically, with a kick drum accompaniment. An absolute stand-out lyrically, the words ‘It’s been so hard ever since you broke my heart’ are universal and were clearly shared by all who were lucky enough to be singing them. During We Fell in Love in October there was a deepening of connection between Marie and the crowd as the room fell silent, mumbling ‘my girl, my girl, you will be my girl’. To have a room of a thousand people at your fingertips is the work of a true artist.

A change of pace came with the next set of songs as we were instructed to ‘pretend it’s sunny outside and we’re at a festival’; and it did indeed feel that way with everyone giving themselves fully to the music during I’ll Call You Mine, and the following ‘song about being horny’ hornylovesickness. The obedience of the crowd in waving their arms in unison and singing every lyric was all in the lead up to the final portion of the show.

The song Serotonin was beautifully poetic, as the crowd was filled head to toe with the hormone; a complete contradiction to the lyrics ‘I’m running low on serotonin’. At this point Marie was ready to literally throw herself into the crowd, stage diving into the arms of her fans during bad idea! – bringing a level of energy to the tracks that cannot be replicated without this high level of interaction.

The set closed out with midnight love and Did You Come? before the last hurrah; a wall of death during i wanna be your girlfriend.  Marie left the crowd with all they could have wanted, jumping into the mosh pit and dancing through the entire song alongside her adoring fans, who she then soaked with her drink bottle before a well-deserved mic drop.

Being covered in water, sweat and copious amounts of glitter – a night at girl in red is one which audiences will take home with them… literally.

 

Be sure to catch girl in red in their final Australian performances at Laneway festival:

Brisbane Feb 4

Sydney Feb 5

Adelaide Feb 10

Melbourne Feb 11

Perth Feb 12

Tickets available here

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[Review] Switchfoot @ The Triffid, Brisbane 31/01/2023

Multi-Platinum, Grammy Award Winning rock outfit Switchfoot made their long awaited return to Australian shores and played their first show of their tour on Tuesday night at Brisbane’s Triffid. Their global fan base as strong as ever, not deterred at all by the midweek show and looming heatwave, sold out the event and showed up early and excited with the line stretching down the street outside the venue.  I myself have been a fan since the 2000 release of ‘Learning To Breathe’, which now has a special place in my heart, however this will be my first time seeing them live and I couldn’t be more excited.

Local heavy hitters Nervous Light opened the night with a sampled intro from modern day spiritual philosopher Alan Watts. This spiked interest from the start, implying an indication of the depth of the music about to saturate the Triffid. From opening track Rope, the band didn’t disappoint delivering an emo vibe any Mayday Parade fan would love. Their tracks bridge emo, pop punk and metalcore with an extremely natural flow. The depth and disparity in each track, given strength by the combined talents of Jordan Olive (guitar/vocals), Antony Borrmann (guitar/vocals) and Rich Brown (bass/vocals) all contributing their unique vocal styles through all songs. Latest single, Coffee Stains & Picture Frames, hit the crowd full on, projecting a melancholic feel across the room, the crowd mesmerised by Brown’s emotional guttural intensity. 

They lifted the tone with pop-punk drenched Outsider bringing out the crowd and continued through their set closing with a haunting intro to their popular track Haunt. All three guitarists on vocals providing an intense ending to an incredible set. Nervous Light may have seemed like an interesting choice to open for the popular Christian rock act but the response from the crowd indicated it was a chance well taken. You gotta love it when the support band for the night becomes a new favourite local act – I’m looking forward to seeing these guys again live and immersing myself in their recorded work.

SwitchfootJon Foreman (lead vocals, guitar), Tim Foreman (bass guitar, backing vocals), Chad Butler (drums, percussion), and Jerome Fontamillas (guitar, keyboards, backing vocals) – walk up onto the stage with touring guitarist Boaz Roberts, to the cheers of an enthusiastic crowd. The gentle guitar riff to Beloved begins and Jon’s comforting vocals with wise words join in soon after.  The band forms an immediate connection with the audience and sets the intentions for the rest of the show.

Taking us back a bit further into their impressive discography spanning almost a quarter of a century, they lift the energy in the room with Stars and Oh Gravity. Then called on the crowd to help them in the opening chant for Hello Hurricane, the title track for the album that won them a Grammy Award for Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album in 2011. Jon jumps up onto the crowd barrier, scaling along, touching as many hands as he can, using some for support, before jumping back up onto the stage to finish the song.

Bull in a China Shop kicks off and fittingly, Jon steps off the stage once again, this time crossing the barrier and launching into the crowd, moving towards the back of the venue – not missing a single word. “I wanna rock this block like a bull in a china shop!”  His vivacity and enthusiasm is contagious. The room is jam packed and it’s hard to make out where he’s gotten to, but before long I realise that he hasn’t just gone to the back of the room… he’s made his way upstairs and is now up with the crowd on the mezzanine!  This is fantastic!  The venue security have an easy job with the respectful crowd but are having an absolute field day trying to keep up with Jon! The song ends with the frontman still up on the mezzanine, exclaiming how grateful he is for having this opportunity to be back in Australia. He shared a tale of his time in this country as an exchange student at university. 

It takes him almost the entirety of If I Were You to get back to the stage with the rest of the band then is passed his acoustic and begins to play I Won’t Let You Go.  The ENTIRE crowd sings along with him from the very first breath and word.  A special kind of harmony is created and has its own life when a venue of fans erupts in unison and form a union with the band like this. Jon sings in falsetto and the audience has its own register – this song is given a whole new meaning when it’s played live and exactly like this.

Jon introduced Boaz Roberts on electric guitar and tells of how he convinced Boaz to go for a surf when they were just in New Zealand… and Boaz injured his foot, slicing his heel on a rock – this explains it looking a little like a balancing act for someone who’s use to moving freely wielding the guitar and stomping on pedals – he’s doing a brilliant job up there keeping up with the energy on stage and hiding the fact though!

A tom drum gets placed in front of Tim and he begins to pound it for what becomes the very heartbeat of their 2018 single Native Tongue, the words also boldly and proudly painted on Jon’s electric guitar. Fluorescent follows, and then that unmistakable and catchy groove of Tim’s bassline for Float – if Switchfoot were to have a dance track, this could very well be it!  Jon has removed his jacket for this one and heads across to Tim, arm around him – the wholesome, heart-warming brotherly love is in the air! And yes, once again, Jon makes his way back out into the audience!  

Dark Horses is probably my highlight song of the night.  It’s a track that’s always felt like an anthem to me, one for the underdogs – now, together in a sea of fans singing every word together as one, it shines a new light on those anthemic qualities.  Switchfoot have that power – the ability to bond emotive, passionate, and meaningful lyricism with a driving force of rock beats and infectious melodies to connect to and soothe the soul of the listener and earn them such loyal fans.  I wasn’t expecting this song to be the standout for me, but it was for this very reason.

Meant To Live is followed by Where I Belong, and the band get a short respite offstage before returning for a two song encore of Only Hope and Dare You To Move, which is one of the first Switchfoot songs I ever heard and is the perfect end to this crazy amazing show for me. 

You can catch Switchfoot at the remaining dates around the country:

Feb 3 – Melbourne, Max Watts

Feb 4 – Adelaide, Lion Arts Factory

Feb 6 – Perth, Freo Social – ALL AGES

Tickets available here

𝐒𝐎𝐂𝐈𝐀𝐋𝐒

https://switchfoot.com/

https://www.facebook.com/switchfoot

https://instagram.com/switchfoot/

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[Review] GLAMFEST@ Bridgeway, Adelaide 27/01/2023

This was one tour that I had been anticipating for quite a while, more so than many others that have travelled through Adelaide over the last few years. As a big fan of glam rock/hair metal of the 80s and early 90s, I was surprised to see this line-up coming to town. While many bands from the US rock scene of the era went on to have huge success internationally (Guns N Roses, Poison, Bon Jovi …just to name a few), there were so many other artists who released fantastic material at the time that didn’t fare so well longer term, or commercially in Australia. This is why I would certainly call the inaugural Glamfest a niche-genre show. Four of the bands included on the line-up (Tuff, Pretty Boy Floyd, Enuff Z’Nuff, and Faster Pussycat all had debut albums that I bought back in the day and absolutely loved! Hence my excitement!

The Adelaide gig was held on a very warm 37 degree day so by the time the doors opened after 4:30pm, the line-up of punters in leather pants, bandannas and cowboy boots were very hot, sweaty, and eager to get inside to enjoy the air-conditioned darkness of the Bridgeway Hotel’s main room.

As soon as the crowd began to file in, the first band, Sydney’s Crosson opened the show. With their catchy hard rock tunes and theatrical show which included two dancing girls and front-man Jason Crosson’s LED light up guitar, they were a suitable opening act for such a gig and they did a good job of capturing the crowd’s attention as they filed in.

The second Aussie band to feature at Glamfest were next up.  Melbourne’s Sister’s Doll have played  the Bridgeway a couple of times in the past and are a popular band already with the glam rock crowds around the country. They instantly worked the stage well as they always do, getting more of a crowd up to the front of the stage as they worked their way through songs from their first two albums as well as some from their forthcoming third. It’s always a blast seeing the three Mileto brothers proudly flying the glam rock flag and living the dream on stage.

After this, came the first international band of the night, Tuff. When their debut album What Comes Around Goes Around was released way back in 1991, I gave it a glowing review in Adelaide’s biggest street-press newspaper at the time and have continued to keep the band in my hair-metal playlists ever since. As I had yet to see Tuff perform live, their inclusion in the tour was one that I was very pleased about and they did not disappoint! Front-man Stevie Rachelle proved to still be a very entertaining performer whose onstage banter between songs was awesomely comical. Their set contained quite a few songs from their aforementioned debut album, including their power ballad I Hate Kissing you Goodbye, their tribute to rock n’ roll history The All-New Generation, and one of my favourites of the set Good Guys Wear Black. Tuff went down very well with the crowd and they ended their set with the perfect song for the occasion, their 2008 track American Hair Band which pays tribute to the scene we were celebrating at this gig.

The second LA band to make it to the stage were Pretty Boy Floyd. Despite their debut album Leather Boys with Electric Toys being released closer to the days of the grunge era, towards the end of the Hollywood glam hey-day, they had an over-the-top glam look complete with huge hair and lipstick, and thankfully, they have never strayed too far from their original influences and image. PBF were due to appear in Australia a couple of years ago to celebrate the 30th anniversary of this album but due to covid, this was one of many gigs to never happen. For tonight’s Glam Fest set however, we finally got to hear this tribute to that debut album as most of the songs from the set came from it. Pretty Boy Floyd seemed to get even more of the crowd down to the front of the stage as they opened with the crowd pleasing song Electric Boys with Electric Toys before getting through other classics including Rock and Roll (Is Gonna Set the Night on Fire), 48 Hours, their big power ballad I Wanna be with You and their cover of Motley Crue’s Toast of the Town. Steve Summers proved that he was still a very entertaining and energetic front-man despite having to deal with technical stage issues throughout the set as his microphone fell out of it’s cable on multiple occasions. When their set ended with one of their later songs Saturday Nite, Steve let the crowd know that he would be heading out right away to meet everyone when he left the stage. True to his word, Steve was very gracious, spending quite a bit of time by the merch stand, signing autographs and having his photo taken with fans.

Next was Enuff Z’Nuff. When they initially released their debut self-titled album back in 1989, they weren’t happy with being lumped into the glam-metal genre by their record company as they felt they were more of a power-pop band. They definitely had the look of a brightly coloured, psychedelic, long-haired rock n’ roll band though, plus they seem to still be a popular addition to any glam-metal line-up such as Glamfest!

The current line-up of Enuff Z’Nuff features founding member and bassist Chip Z’Nuff on lead vocals and bass, covering the absence of original vocalist Donnie Vie. Despite Chip not being the original vocalist on the classic recordings, it was amazing how similar his vocals sounded to the original releases. They opened their set with a cover of The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour due to the band releasing a Beatles/Paul McCartney tribute album in 2021. Tonight’s set included another two songs from this album, but the songs that appeared to be the most popular with the crowd were Enuff Z’Nuff’s early original songs including their hit ballad Fly High Michelle and their closing song New Thing (causing members of Pretty Boy Floyd to jump back up onstage to help with backing vocals).

The band featured on the line-up that seemed the most out of place to me initially was Eclipse. I was the least familiar with them compared to the other bands, plus they were the only international band not from the US, but from Sweden. Also, they didn’t seem to fit the glam metal mould as much as the other bands, being more melodic hard rock/AOR. Leading up to the tour, I did notice that there was quite a bit of support for Eclipse on social media so I was certainly excited to see their live show.

From their opening track Roses on Your Grave, they had the crowd on-board and showed that they had a very energetic and rocking set, particularly the way front-man Erik Mårtensson and bassist Victor Crusner used the large Bridgeway stage and interacted with each other and the crowd. By this point in the day, my ears had started ringing already and I was considering moving further from the stage for an ear-break but Eclipse were too entertaining not to remain where I was near the front. I just hoped that my ear-plugs could withhold the day!

Set highlights for me included their songs The Downfall of Eden and the set closer Viva La Victoria, which seemed to come around too quickly.

Right after Eclipse had vacated the stage, I was definitely in need of visiting the beer garden for an ear break. Not only had every band been REALLY loud, but with a DJ playing between the sets, there was no chance to reset or have a conversation break with any of the people I knew at the gig.

After this short rest, it was time to re-enter the main room for the set from Wednesday 13. A few minutes into this set, it was apparent that a lot of the punters were here for this. Wednesday 13 had everyone down the front of the stage and seemed to get the best crowd response of the day. Of course the band were all in typical horror glam/punk style with their ghoulish make up and a set list of songs that always make for a fantastic Halloween party playlist. The set contained classic Wednesday 13 songs including I walked with a Zombie and I Want you…Dead, new songs including the very catchy Good Day to be a Bad Guy, and some popular songs from Wednesday 13’s previous band Murderdolls  including Nowhere and the set-closer I Love to Say Fuck, which had everyone singing along at full voice, featuring Wednesday 13 brandishing an umbrella with a giant middle finger emblazoned on it!

To finish off the day’s festivities, at close to midnight, Faster Pussycat hit the stage! This was the band featured in the line-up that I have been the biggest fan of for the longest time. In fact, my own band Trash City initially started as a FP tribute as we managed to include 8 songs from their debut album in our own set list! Their set started with the heavy groove of Where There’s a Whip There’s a Way from their second album Wake me When it’s Over. From there, the band worked their way through songs from various points in their career including Cathouse, Don’t Change that Song and Bathroom Wall from their self-titled debut, a cover of INXSDon’t Change and their latest single Like a Ghost. Some technical issues unfortunately caused the band to have to stop the set on a couple of occasions and front-man Taime Downe was certainly showing his frustration at he seemed to be having trouble hearing the mix from the stage at times. Thankfully this didn’t stop the band from powering through to the end of the set. Before they were done, their hit ballad House of Pain went down very well with the room as did their set-closer Babylon, also from their first album. Despite Taime being the last remaining original member of the band, the current line-up has been together for longer than the originals ever were and played the songs perfectly. Drummer Chad Stewart kept the groove perfectly with bassist Danny Nordahl, while guitarists Sam Koltun and Australia’s own Ronnie Simmons owned the stage and weaved together seamlessly.

At the end of Faster Pussycat’s set, as everyone filed out of the venue, there was a lot of talk between everyone about how great this event’s line-up was, and it seemed that a lot of people were hoping this could become an annual event, bringing a collection of relatively obscure glam metal acts to the country who may not be able to tour here on their own.

Silverback Touring have certainly been doing a great job of bringing a range of bands to the country that we haven’t had the chance to see here before. I would absolutely be one of the people who would love to see this particular event become an annual event. I can think of a lot of bands from this genre that I would love to see in Australia in the future!

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[Review] Marc Rebillet @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 25/01/2023

When I walked into the Forum Theatre last night, the first thing I noticed was the choice of clothing. Every second person was wearing bathrobes! I’d been well aware of Marc Rebillet and his brand of humour through his online presence, but nothing could’ve prepared me for the pure silliness in store for me at Marc’s debut Melbourne show. Delayed several times due to the troubles of the last few years, Marc has been waiting a long time to make his first appearance down under and, now that he finally has, he’s commenced his three sold out shows with a brilliant opening night.

Blowing up on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok, Marc Rebillet is a musician who specialise in improvisational beatmaking with a comedy angle, ala Reggie Watts, with a distinct Millennial twist. Many of his songs are goofy celebrations or warnings, such as VACCINATED ATTITUDE and YOUR NEW MORNING ALARM

Opening up for Marc was the brilliant Cry Club, a queer pop-punk duo from Wollongong. They dedicated their first song People Like Me to queer rage everywhere, and tore into a set of passionate, dancy rock music.

I was surprised and happy to hear them sneak into a cover of Olivia Rodrigo’s smash-hit Good For You, which was a killer sing-along. The also paid tribute to the goth gods of old, with the track Robert Smith, dedicated to The Cure’s fantastic front man, taking the opportunity, of course, to slander his fallen-from-grace peer Morrissey.

After Cry Club’s short but sweet warmup, the first sight we got of Marc was his face bouncing around the screen behind the stage, like a DVD screensaver from the early 2000s. This immediately set the tone for the whole show, as the crowd would cheer and holler every time the face got close to a corner, only to cry in disappointment when it wasn’t perfect corner. This continued for some time, until we finally achieved nostalgic perfection with a clean hit to the corner, and the screen faded to black. Then the show began.

Marc Rebillet took to the stage. Not to play a song, but to take a moment to bask in the crowd. He immediately began engaging with us, asking if we were ready, jumping into the crowd to get responses on the microphone, hyping us up with his boisterous personality. Then he jumped behind the laptop, and we were treated to possibly the funniest visualiser I have ever seen at a concert.

Marc’s computer screen was displayed on screen, with him entering his lewd but hilarious password, and us being treated to goofy folder names including “definitely not porn” and “beets”, but opening up the tour visuals, only to blow our minds. Cats playing piano, suggestive videos of fruit, turtles fornicating, the whole deal. Marc clearly had one feeling on the mind: horny. And the crowd was right there with him.

Jumping into beat making, Marc layered snares, hats, and percussion for many bars, teasing us before finally punching us in the face with a kickass bass, accompanied by pyrotechnics, pushing the crowd into an immediate up-tempo tech house groove. Mixing one beat into the next, with random stops to say something out of pocket and hilarious, Marc sat perfectly between techno DJ and the kid with too many sugary treats in their lunchbox, the energy built in those first few minutes managed to power a crowd of crazed fans for a full hour and forty minutes.

Mid set, a bra was thrown on stage. Typical display for a rockstar, but being his silly self, Marc was of course obliged to wear it for almost the whole rest of the show. Nothing stumps Marc Rebillet. Taking a moment to speak to a fan in the crowd, the fan responded that Marc was much smaller in person. Such a comment wouldn’t be great on most men’s egos, but this man will use anything for inspiration, so a beat is made using the statement as a key lyric. Nothing stumps Marc Rebillet.

In case it wasn’t already clear, near the end of the show Marc told us that there were no setlists, no plans, and that it was all made up on the spot. Authenticity doesn’t come much closer in live music than this. Ending the show with the hits GIRLS CLUB and FLAMINGO, Marc secured several thousand fans loyalty to the cult of Rebillet, and proved to me that he was more than a meme and in fact a deeply talented, and stupidly hilarious artist.

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