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[Review] Waterparks @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 8/10/2023

Review By Jessie Fitzpatrick

Last Sunday, the line to the Forum snaked all the way into Hosier Lane and beyond, with no end in sight. Passers-by stared at the colourfully-dressed crowd and the endless line, as I saw first-hand the demand that Australian fans have for genre-blending pop/rock trio Waterparks.

The packed crowd was ecstatic, as support-act Lights (Canadian electro-pop/rock artist Valerie Poxleitner) opened in a sweeping, cinematic fashion with rock number Salt and Vinegar. Lights captured the audience immediately, with strong vocals and melodies that managed to feel both nostalgic and fresh (a talent shared with the headliner, Waterparks). Throughout her set, Lights seamlessly moved from electro pop, to rock, to alt pop. The following number, Siberia, was a distinctly early 2010s indie pop songbut her performance felt timeless, as she added in a new line to the lyric “we'll leave Canada for Siberia” – “or Australia”.

Lights excelled at bringing the audience along for a journey. She transitioned from guitar, to keys, and back to singing while dancing non-stop, moving straight into Dead End, which again captured a different side of her vocals. Even when a looped track of her voice played in the background of the song, her live vocals sounded phenomenal. An audience member handed her a flower, and she put it in her pocket, the red petals falling around the stage as she danced. After hyping up the crowd, Lights shifted to a sadder song, Beside Myself. People got out their phone lights and began to sway slowly, but the pace of the song gradually increased – leading Lights to comment that “people here have way better time than North America”. Her set ended in a crescendo of sound, and left the audience on a high, full of anticipation for the headline act.

Waterparks began their set in a flurry of energy, as lead singer and rhythm guitarist Awsten Knight arrived on stage in what appeared to be a Bunnings hat over his bright pink hair (foreshadowing a night of jokes about Australian accents and culture from the Houston-originated band), accompanied by lead guitarist Geoff Wigington, and drummer Otto Wood. Each band member’s energetic stage presence was immediately infectious, as the band launched into Rare, singing “I save my metaphors for rainy days……cause we're not seventeen, but you're my teenage dream”. The cleverness and self-awareness behind these lyrics highlighted a strong knowledge of their pop-punk and pop rock predecessors and influences. Otto paused his steady drumming to highlight a slow guitar riff from Geoff, and I felt the floor move as the crowd jumped in response to Geoff spinning in a circle on stage alongside Awsten, creating an electrifying atmosphere.

Waterparks (or in particular, Awsten) were one of the chattiest acts I had seen in a long time. Awsten reminisced about a previous concert in Australia where the band performed for about 100 people in a tiny attic (“now we get to play in air-conditioned venues!”), before they transitioned into fan-favourite, Stupid for you. Stupid for you is a song of a juvenile love, undercut with adult tones. With lyrics such as “you're a symphony, I'm just a sour note”, I felt like it belonged in an early 2000s high school comedy in the best way, maybe in the prom scene. When Awsten sang the chorus, the sound of the audience harmonising complimented his voice perfectly, and he joked “you guys sound great – have you been practising?”. It had been 6 years since Waterparks’ last visit to Australia (“I’ll take a boo for that…we had a tour planned for 2020, something happened but I forgot what” Awsten joked). The Melbourne show was their 4th show in a row without a day off, and although the band was upfront about being tired, you couldn’t notice – their energy remained unwavering, as Brainwashed showed off Awsten‘s vocal range, combining mellower instrumentals with verses that leaned towards being a rap.

 Waterparks continued to showcase their musical versatility, as they debuted their new song Sneaking Out of Heaven, “before America or Canada have heard it”. This felt particularly special for the adoring Melbourne audience. Sneaking Out of Heaven started strong and packed a punch. The snappy track seamlessly integrated into their discography – this is a new release to watch out for. This was followed by more of the band’s camaraderie on display, as they played Two Best Friends – an autobiographical song about the band’s friendship, as the three bandmates rocked out together to the sound of a steady bass drum.

Their performance of Magnetic took on a more intense turn, with the fast-paced vocals melding with the heaviness of the drums. Awsten’s deliberate movements and stage presence was captivating, as the sci-fi sound effects on the backing track added an eerie ambiance to the song.

“Do you want to hear a song I used to practise in the mirror at my parent’s house in Houston?”, Awsten asked the audience, as he launched into Royal. In another pivot from some of Waterparks’ more light hearted pop-punk tracks, this song commanded a focused energy. Awsten then conspiratorially told the crowd that “the percussion layer in the song is us [the bandmates] kissing Otto’s stomach – you can hear it if you listen to the song with headphones”.

Awsten seemed chuffed as he told the audience about the band's song Telephone being featured in an episode of the TV series, Heartstopper, as he coyly sang the hopeful lyrics. The set then pivoted to a short burst of acoustic numbers – 21 Questions showcased a different genre and mood , and called attention to Awsten’s guitar expertise. In Dizzy, Awsten haunted the stage alone, as he sang the lyrics “I don’t hear from my friends anymore”. Lucky People saw the crowd illuminating the venue with their phone lights. These solo performances were a poignant interlude amid many fast-paced numbers. Then, Geoff and Otto returned to the stage with cheers from the crowd, and the band jumped into the self-referential REAL SUPER DARK. Awsten pretended to stumble around the stage, as the lighting became dream-like. Waterparks certainly knew how to capture a mood.

The crowd had been waiting for the band to play their highest-streamed song, I Miss Having Sex But at Least I Don't Wanna Die Anymore, and Waterparks delivered. They sounded even better live, with the band in perfect alignment. The concert concluded on a high note, leaving the audience elated and relishing in the humour and musical magic of Waterparks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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[Review] Jet @ Night Cat, Melbourne 20/09/2023

Review By Terri Nas

A drizzly Wednesday night saw me headed northbound in the direction of The Night Cat in super-cool Fitzroy. Legendary Australian band, Jet, are touring the country to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of their first hit album Get Born. Wednesday night’s gig was a warm-up show to kick off their tour, their first show being Friday night at The Forum.

If there’s one way to make yourself feel simultaneously young again but old as hell, it’s heading to see a band celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of their first album that you played on high rotation during your youth. Wait… wasn’t it only yesterday that I was a perky, young and innocent 15-year-old, bouncing around at house parties to Are You Gonna Be My Girl? Where did these wrinkles come from? Why is my back killing me? This album stirs up so much nostalgia in me every time I listen to it, and I’m always instantly transported back to exact moments in time with each song.  

This was my first time visiting The Night Cat, and upon entry into the hazy, red-lit room with its mismatched vintage light shades and killer vibe, I was instantly impressed. The stage is actually positioned in the middle of the room, giving the audience a full 360-degree experience of the talented humans who grace its stage. Booth style seating borders the perimeter of the room with a bar on the outskirts to boot. And for a few lucky ones there were small tables positioned on certain sides of the stage. I cut a few sweet laps to get a feel for the venue whilst the crowd was still slowly rolling in, and I soon found myself a nice little position side of stage and super close to the action.

Local Melbourne trio Neon Goblin kicked off the night and with their heavy bass lines and psychedelic sound, they set the mood for the evening. The crowd were suitably impressed with their set, and it was then time to bid these guys farewell. 

The room gradually filled to its capacity of approximately 500 bodies for this sold-out show, and the crowd was starting to come alive in anticipation of Jet’s arrival. I was also interested to note the average age range of the punters there. Yes, I may be in denial about my own age, but I would say the crowd started at around 35 and up. Surprisingly a huge chunk of people would’ve been around my parents’ age. A true indication that music can touch any heart, of any age.  

The lights dimmed and the intro music was turned up a notch – here come Jet.

Oh. My. God. My body was covered in goosebumps as they took command of the stage and flew straight into their hit Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is. Now it’s no secret that being a rockstar and the life that that entails can take its toll on the body and speed up the aging process. But is it possible that Jet have discovered the fountain of youth as they are looking better than ever. Just like a fine wine. Being so close to the stage that I could see the sweat on their upper lips, I know it wasn’t just an optical illusion of smoke, mirrors and good lighting.  

The crowd were completely amped right from the first note and the energy that was emanating around me never faulted once. We were treated to She’s A Genius followed by Black Hearts. I loved that they threw in some other hits before they got right down to business – getting into their Get Born album track for track. Last Chance kicked off the album, followed by their first smash hit Are You Gonna Be My Girl. Yes, Jet, I will be your girl. There was not one person who wasn’t dancing or singing along by this point, as we were then led into the cheeky hit for all the DJ haters – Rollover DJ.

It was then time to kick it back a notch with the slow ballad Look What You’ve Done, which also had the crowd providing backing vocals. Get What You Need was the next cab off the rank, and with drummer/vocalist Chris Cester sadly missing in action due to family reasons, his brother and frontman of the band, Nic, took the lead vocals on this song and unsurprisingly smashed it.  Nic then invited Melbourne-based singer/songwriter/musician Andre Warhurst on stage to join them for Move On. Bass player Mark Wilson traded in his bass for the harmonica for this track, and his kick-ass playing further convinced me that I really want to teach myself how to play this little free reed wind instrument.  

Guitarist Cameron Muncey then took the reins on lead vocals and slowed the pace with Radio Song. Get Me Outta Here fired the energy back up again, and then this little Cold Hard Bitch was “shakin’ her hips, and it was all that I needed” to hear my most favourite Jet song. I wasn’t the only one loving this song, as I spotted a keen crowd surfer floating along the top of the crowd before swiftly disappearing back into the pack. The beauty of the stage being completely accessible from all sides meant that from my vantage point at the side of stage, I was privy to the band’s view of the audience. It really is such a warm feeling seeing those extra die-hard fans right at the front of the stage emanating pure awe and singing every single word to every single song, just as hard and as passionately as the band. 

Come Around Again & Lazy Gun started to slowly round out the set, before it came to a close with the heartbreaking song Timothy, with Cameron back on lead vocals. With its melancholy melody and gut-wrenching lyrics, the song hits hard and the audience absorbed every moment. Nic then acknowledged that it was the point in the show where they would pretend to leave the stage and do an encore. Rather than doing that though, the band exited the stage and left Nic to do a beautiful acoustic rendition of Shine On. The rest of the band came back to join us with Andre Warhurst in tow, and we got to preview their new song Little Fish, which was extremely catchy and had me trying to sing along despite never hearing it before. Jet then decided to Bring It On Back before succumbing to multiple requests during the show to “get on your feet” and Rip It Up.  

Jet have etched themselves into the Australian songbook of legendary rock bands, and their live shows do not disappoint. I have been to hundreds of gigs in my life of all different sizes, but this was by far one of the best. As I ventured home I was still buzzing and was wondering how the hell I was going to get any sleep with this intoxicating music high still running through me. The band were tight and Nic’s vocals are still in absolute tip-top shape. Their presence is subtly commanding and from the first beat, they own that stage and every single soul watching them. All I can say is Jet are better than ever, and if you nabbed tickets to this tour then you will be in for an absolutely awesome ride! And for those that missed out, my condolences on missing a shit-hot show.  

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(Review) Morgan Evans @ Palais Theatre 14/09/2023

Walking into the iconic venue that is The Palais Theatre last Friday night, we were met with a sea of people, flashes of bright lights and waves of sound. Guitars, singing, gleeful screaming – the foyer was alive with the sounds of tonight’s support act, James Johnston. I had no idea what to expect from the night, I was asked whether I wanted to cover this gig because of my love for country and folk music. But this sounded more like stadium country than the melancholic yeehaw I frequent. I was intrigued, nervous and eager to hear more.

Australian Idol finalist, James Johnston has come a long way since 2009. He’s moved from the living rooms of Australian families and is playing to nearly 3,000 people. The Palais is at full capacity. All I see when I peak in, is a swath of bright-wide strobes. James Johnston is wearing a simple singlet and jeans and has the crowd going NUTS. People are standing and swinging their shirts around. “I’ll be out in the foyer signing anything you have and taking photos!” He exclaims happily as his band takes a bow and exits the stage. His backup vocalist’s amazing shiny silver cowboy boots glitter in the lights and dazzle the senses as she walks off. The usher turns to my housemate and I, who had left the heat to get a drink, “You’ll have to move to the foyer, sorry.” We’re confused, why are they so frantic to free up space? We were fine a minute ago. But almost instantly, I understand. We wind our way upstairs as a thousand people flood the foyer and grab a place in line to have their bags, books and arms signed by the Mid-Coast legend.

It’s a crowd of big hats, and bigger mullets. Some opt for cowboy hats, and others are adorned with large trucker hats. Boots of varying persuasions clink across the floor. One woman is wearing shimmery pink frills and knee-high pink cowboy boots, I love her. Someone is wearing a pink cowboy hat with an LED light trim. Three of the biggest mullets I’ve ever seen in my life walk past me. Mostly, the crowd is what you would expect from stadium-country fans, a far throw from the bluegrass enjoyers I surround myself with. But within the crowd, there are people dressed as if they’ve only listened to Joni Mitchell’s, Blue, and I feel a wave of calm. Tonight, will give everyone a little bit of something.

Armed with a Sprite and a Pepsi Max, we make our way into the theatre and take our seats. Without any warning, tonight’s headliner, fellow Novocastrian, Morgan Evans, takes the stage. After a flurry of frantic white strobes, there he is. Centre stage, he’s surrounded by one of the best backing bands in the country game right now. Let’s get to meet them, shall we?

 “All the way from upstate New York, he makes the best margarita this side of the Mexican border, and he plays drums alright too. Make some Big Melbourne Noise for Pete Wilson.”

“To my left, all the way from Knoxville, Tennessee. He’s a trained psychologist but he prefers to play on this thing (bass guitar), he’s on a mission to drink all the beer in Melbourne this week (of course, the crowd cheers), and he’s got a burgeoning love affair with Hungry Jacks (we cheer more). Make some noise for Andrew Brown!”

“And last but not least, on electric guitar, keyboards and more, the youngest member of the band. All the way from a little town outside Dallas, Texas. He’s taken such a liking to Australia, and he’s also single, might be looking for an Australian wife actually. Ian Bawley.” Ian, if you’re reading this, I’ll be your Australian wife.

And so, we have our guides for this evening’s journey through the Life Upside Down tour.

Morgan Evans might be from Newcastle, but he sings with a heavy southern drawl. Listening to the crowd drawl along with him as he opens with Young Again, I’m taken back to my time growing up in the US. This is like, the weirdest version of culture shock. It feels like a familiar culture to me, but in entirely the wrong venue. It’s all hoots and hollers, and I swear I can smell corn on the cob. This is the crowd who loves Monster Trucking, and who hold each other up when the going gets tough, and the tough gets going. Country music has become a global sensation, that much is clear to see. And the County Fair Community vibe belongs to no one nation, we’re adopting the colourful slang and drawn-out rhythms of our American brothers. Except his shoes are off. The dogs are out. Can’t take the Newcastle out of the boy. 

While this is not my genre of choice, I just lean into it. I embrace the cringe, and I sing along and whistle and cheer with the rest of them. Country Outta My Girl has me and my housemate singing along and grinning ear to ear. People are standing up, whipping their shirts around, fist’s pumping in the air and snapping photos, They’re a rowdy bunch for sure, but their energy is just too contagious. Evans seems so totally comfortable onstage. He radiates this effortless charisma, and we eat it up.

“Last night was good, but I can tell tonight is gonna get a little crazy.” Evans smirks into the mic. A sea of middle-aged women and mullets in caps cheers back at him. We launch into Kiss Somebody, and I just have to say it, what a banger. It’s still stuck in my head.

During his next song, I Do. My housemate says she’s going to make it her wedding song. And while it is a little Hallmark-y, it is undeniably lovely and oh-so romantic. The walls of The Palais are alight with projected roses, which swirl around the walls and dance over our heads as the lights onstage flicker from purple to orange to pink and back again.

Now, by this point, I’m completely onboard with whatever Mr Evans is serving. So when he suggests a competition, I’m immediately in. For Love Is Real, he divides the room down the middle, and we have a sing (scream) off to determine which side are the best and the brightest. East vs West, we dual to the death, to the glory. We sing,

I am Yours! You are Mine! Love is Real!

Evans high-fives some kids, sings back to us, smiles, and laughs and it feels like we’re hanging out with old friends. Speaking of old friends, it’s his guitar-swapping roadies’ birthday. And while we’re fired up, he gets us to shout, “Happy Birthday Jeff!” Into the wings. And so, of course, we do. And we do it loud.

Over For You is a change of pace. Slow, sad and beautifully played on the keys. “This is the part of the show where I can do whatever the fuck I want, because it’s just me and you.” Full of heartbreak, Evans really shows us just how good his vocals really are, without the strobes and the over-the-top drawl. He has beautiful control. And the entire crowd is still, for the first time that night. The stage is ablaze with individual lights, he is playing piano in front of a sea of stars. For any Didirri fans, this could be worth checking out.

Determined to never let us get bored, Evans changes pace yet again. And we jump along into maybe the most iconic heartbreak banger I’ve heard this month. It’s an unreleased track, but when I tell you, he’s SO REAL for this one. “This is a new song for everyone who has an ex they can’t stop talking shit about.” Absolutely feral shrieks leave people’s mouths. And the lyrics on this thing, scathing, funny and oh-so good to sing along with.

You’re fingerpainting, and thinking they’re Picassos / Say what you want about me / But what does that say about you?

My ex was working the bar upstairs, but I hope he put his ear to the door for this. I hope very bad ex ever puts their ear to the metaphorical door for this. Because it’s brutal, it’s sobering, it’s funny. Get ready for this release.

Out of nowhere, Evans pulls out a guitar and starts playing the instrumental opening to Waltzing Matilda. At first, I think it’s just a segue into another song. But oh-no, I’ve underestimated just how Okka this crowd is. Without missing a beat, the entire crowd is singing Waltzing Matilda – without Evans. He just strums as we sing so loud, and so out of tune.

YOU’LL COME A WALTZING MATILDA WITH MEEEEEE

Voices crack, people whoop, people stifle laughs. It’s an experience I literally can’t describe to you. It feels like something out of a book. It was wild.

And after a rousing cover of the Slim Dusty classic, his band comes back onstage. By this point, I have a full-blown crush on his guitarist, Ian. So, to that handsome, southern Cowboy with a moustache, I yet again sexily wave my Australian Citizenship. He sits down on a stool, with a fully steel guitar, a resonator, in his hands. “Take us on a little trip to Texas.” And he starts to play something so southern, so sexy, it immediately makes me think of Tumbleweeds and oil drilling. A guttural “Yeaaaahhhh!” leaves my housemates mouth and everyone whistles. “I think that only took us halfway to Texas, how about you take us all the way?” And everyone cheers. Next is the most insane display of instrumental talent. He absolutely rides that resonator to Dallas and takes us with him. Painting incredible landscapes with his strums, Evans sneaks up behind him and places a cowboy hat on his head. The lights turn orange, with gorgeous sunset-yellow spotlights illuminating our iconic 4-some. Andrew Brown joins in on bass and starts to dance his signature two-step. This is southern bluegrass cowboy realness at its finest.

The rest of the night continued this trajectory of outrageous fun, big whoops and hollers and lickin’ guitar solos. Apparently two people vomited in the foyer from too much booze. So, the staff may not have been having that much fun, but I sure was. The sound mixing was incredible, the energy unlike anything else I’ve ever seen, and I was so enraptured by Evans’ performance that I forgot he wasn’t wearing shoes.

So try something new. Go to that gig you think you might hate. Stick it out. And I promise, the Music will reward you.

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[Review] Cattle Decapitation @ Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne 16/09/2023

Review By Mitch Charlton

Cattle Decapitation were the last international band I saw play live back in Feb 2020 before the world was struck with the plague and everything went haywire! It was an incredible show, it made a lasting impression and made me a fan of their music. Hearing that they were coming back I was so keen to hear and see this incredible band live once again and my god! They did not disappoint but, on to that later.

3 years later, Cattle Decapitation are back in Australia with their latest destroyer of an album Terrasite and Melbourne is sold out! This is my second sold out show at The Croxton Bandroom and the one thing I notice about this place is, it fills really quick. For anyone that hasn’t been there yet, just make sure you move to where you want to be for the night, otherwise you might struggle to get to the bar and back later.

Melbourne Deathcore quartet, Body Prison come on promptly at 8pm and kick things off with some solid chunk style bass riffage or at least that’s all I’m able to really make out. Unfortunately, I couldn’t hear much of the guitars for most of their set, even standing in front of the mix desk, as is tradition, wasn’t helping me tonight, from the looks it had a fair bit of tremolo strumming but I’m not gonna hold that against them because their frontman had some incredibly fast paced phrasing skills and definitely got that crowd warmed up for the rest of the night, throwing some merch in to the crowd to fight for it, getting more movement than I’ve seen for an opener for a while. I want to go check them out again to hopefully hear them properly.

Fallujah, another band I hadn’t heard before tonight and I was interested to see how it all came across especially after Body Prisons mix and somehow things sounded incredibly different, I could hear everything but bass this time. These guys have come across with Cattle Decap from the States and brought their version of Tech Death to show off. These guys had more backing synth and clean style vocals, incredibly melodic and some incredible musicianship, it was such a shame I couldn’t hear the bass player, some of the tapping and riffs looked unreal. These guys had the room nodding along and from what I could see a bit of a mosh pit, the room was pretty much sardine packed by this stage. It’s awesome to think that you’re coming to a Death metal show and that all bands have an incredibly different style of play and how they go about their stage, Fallujah stood out from being the most melodic sound tonight, definitely a band to check out.

Just when I thought the room was packed by the end of Fallujahs set, apparently you can fit more people in, as the crowd got nice and cosy, the anticipation grew whilst waiting for Cattle Decapitation to come out and blast us all away. Coming out to album opener, Terrasitic Adaptation, its instantaneous to everyone tonight as to why these guys are one of the best in the business and this show is sold out. First time seeing CD I couldn’t look away from either the frontman or the drummer, don’t get me wrong, the entire band is incredible but how Travis can get his voice in both of those styles live is seriously mind blowing. It must be fun for bands to come to Australia where swearing is just part of our language and culture “MELBOURNE!! How the F$#k are you C&%nts!?” Travis yells and grins, he just looked and sounded like he is having fun saying that, he does drop the C word a few more times throughout the set with a massive grin, pretty funny to watch.

The mix became crystal clear, I could hear and feel the bass and kicks running through the floor, the pit explodes as they run through the first tracks off Terrasite as well as a killer set with the likes of Bring Back the Plague, Finish Them, Forced Gender Reassignment and coming out to an encore of Kingdom of Tyrants. They know how to work their crowd and you can see that all members are incredibly grateful to be back here once again.

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[Review] Polaris @ Bar On The Hill, Newcastle 13/09/2023

Review By Raelee Atkinson

Most people generally aren’t fond of the mid-week gig, but when Sydney Metalcore band, Polaris announced a mammoth tour with three other ‘core bands from the USA and coinciding with the release of their new album, Fatalism, Novacastrians put aside the fact that it was a weeknight, and bought up their tickets quick smart! In no time, the concert was sold out. 

At the last minute, the gig was moved outside and a few extra tickets were released for the stragglers.

Finally, Newcastle’s turn to headbang and circle pit had arrived.

This mammoth metalcore extravaganza was held at Bar On The Hill, the University of Newcastle's student union bar. Upon arrival at 6pm I could hear that the first band had just begun their set. I made my way swiftly to the outdoor area to watch Currents, from Connecticut, USA, who played a cracking 25 minute set consisting of Living In Tragedy, Remember Me, The Death We Seek, Monsters, Better Days and ending their set with Into Despair. Currents’ melodic, riff heavy, djenty sound, while singer Brian Wille alternates between clean and harsh vocals was the perfect way to start the evening. Personally, I would have been a happy camper if these guys played for at least another half-a or so. 

After a quick stage changeover, the next band who walked on stage were Kublai Khan TX, hailing from Texas, hence the TX in their name. The band's main sound consists of heavy, slow breakdowns, heavily downtuned guitars and raspy, harsh vocals. It’s like treacle in your ears. Kublai Khan TX played a 25 minute sludge-fest of a set that included, The Hammer, Self-Desctruct, Boomslang, Resentment, Swan Song, Theory Of Mind and ended with the crowd favourite, Antpile. The crowd gave Kublai Khan TX respect by making dog noises and circle moshing themselves into a lather of sweat.

It was time for another efficient stage changeover and then the crowd welcomed Grammy nominated, Pennsylvanian metalcore minotaurs, August Burns Red, to the stage. 

August Burns Red’s signature sound is a combination of progressive and djent metal elements which include melodic guitar riffs, technical time signatures and heavy breakdowns. Unlike most other melodic metalcore singers, lead vocalist, Jake Luhrs generally does not mix clean vocals with his screams and growls. The other element that sets August Burns Red apart from other metalcore bands, is that most of their songs do not contain a chorus. ABR played a powerful 45 minute set that kept the crowd entertained with circle pits, headbanging, moshing, and even a spot of rowing, the crowd was warmed up and ready to give their all for the main band to follow. ABR’s set included bangers old and new such as The Truth Of A Liar, Meddler, Invisible Enemy, Backfire, Revival, Bloodletter, Paramount, Composure, Mariana’s Trench and rounded out the set with White Washed. Bro’s mate was frothing these guys, a long time fan, who growled along with Luhrs – it was impressive. I admit, I’ve struggled to connect with this band, listening on Spotify leading up to this gig, but live, OMG, live these guys shine. 

The final changeover progressed quickly, then the stage lights dimmed and the PA played an assortment of classic songs that had the crowd singing along loudly. At 8:45pm it was finally time for the beloved ARIA nominated Sydneysiders to take the stage. The crowd swelled and shuffled towards the front, Polaris appeared on the stage amid a thick fog with cheers and applause, opening with Harbinger followed by single, Nightmare. The audience was divided in half and as Hypermania played, and as the chorus hit, the crowd ran towards each other in a ‘wall of death’. After With Regards was performed, the mosh pit began rowing enthusiastically. During Lucid, All Of This Is Fleeting, Landmine and Overflow, there were several circle pits, some crowd surfing and a lot of energetic moshing. Girls were perched upon shoulders bobbing in the crowd as the audience sang and danced. Vocalist Jamie Hails, informed the audience that it was the largest headlining audience that Polaris had ever had in Newcastle and expressed his gratitude for making their recently released album, Fatalism, Number 1 on several ARIA charts. 

Midway through the set, Vocalist, Hails quieted the audience as he spoke of their recent loss of guitarist, Ryan Liew, and thanking the crowd for the outpouring of love, support, and messages, he talked about the importance of finding someone to talk to and how difficult it is for the family and friends who lose a loved one by suicide. He encouraged everyone to “be there” for each other. The crowd was quiet and respectful during this chat then the band played Martyr as the audience held up their mobile phones with the torch on, lighting up the area, making the courtyard look as if it were lit up for fairy lights as everyone sang along loudly. I could feel the outpouring of love and respect for this band by the audience. 

Then it was time for more circle pits, crowd surfing and moshing during  Parasites, Consume, Dissipate, Massochist and the set was rounded out with Fatalism single, Inhumane. The band left the stage briefly while the audience cheered and yelled for an encore. Polaris complied and returned to perform Pray For Rain and ended the evening with fireworks and The Remedy.

Post gig wrap up:

What an epic night! I’m still buzzing. Three killer bands from the United States and a much loved Aussie band for eighty bucks! That’s a freaking bargain! 

Each band gave their all, each giving a tight set, entertaining the audience, and taking time between songs to communicate a similar message, that the metal community is a family so have fun, do what you want, express yourself any way that you wish, but also that we need to be there for each other, to listen, to care, to share our grief and to pick each other up if we fall. I definitely felt that there was a sense of community amongst the crowd and during the memorial for Ryan there was a shared sadness as we all stood quietly listening to Jamie sharing his thoughts. I no longer hang in the mosh pit, choosing a safer spot at the side instead, but as an observer, the pits looked like so much fun (for youngsters whose joints don't creak and ache), people looked happy and I think the bands really enjoyed the enthusiastic vibe of the audience. 

Polaris put on an incredible performance. The band are energised, riding high on an almost sell out headlining tour, and the massive support for their current album, Fatalism, which is positioned at number one on several charts. I didn’t catch the name of the guitarist, but the dude can shred! It was a pleasure to listen to and watch him perform. The band sounded at least as good as their recordings and Jamie Hails was in fine voice! Expectations surpassed! 

The light show was well coordinated and included quite a bit of fog / smoke and fireworks at the end. For an outdoor gig, the sound was ok, we all know the best sound is back up next to the desk, so from our position on the right side and closer to the stage, the vocals were muddied in the mix, but what you lose in sound quality you gain in vibe and energy. And we got that in spades! From my observation as we exited the venue, everyone appeared to be highly impressed and thrilled with the evening's entertainment.

There are only a couple more dates left on this tour, so if you are Brisbane or Sydney, get your skates on and grab one of the final tickets available. I highly recommend fans of metalcore go and check out this tour – Details on the Destroy All Lines website.

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[Review] Culture Club @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne 09/09/2023

Review By Cassandra Hale

It was a sight fit for a King or a Queen if you are that way inclined, as I made my way to Rod Laver Arena for a night of 80’s inspired tunes.  Many decked out in full Culture Club regalia, some just happy in their own skin, and if that meant hairy legs with high heels, so be it.  If you asked me to describe the devoted fans flocking in my answer would be extravagantly colourful!

Celebrating 47 years as a band, we were honoured to have Berlin opening the nights proceedings. It was a huge bucket list tick for me to see them after having their faces grace my wall as a teenager. From the get-go they were red hot, Terri Nunn looking smashing in a red layered corset arrangement showing she still had the goods. Opening with Masquerade they were off and running, well maybe not running as Terri had ‘done a hami’ when she ventured too deep in the splits at a previous show. But you get my drift, No More Words had me up and about as it was a personal favourite and it seemed I was not alone.  The screens behind the band flashing with pictures and film clips for the duration of the set as the worked their way through Metro and Animal. Another fan favourite was Dancing In Berlin, this saw Terri take to the crowd for a dance, what a wonderful and welcome surprise getting such an up-close experience. Dancing with Terri as she nabs your mobile phone and makes it a ‘live in the moment’ experience for one lucky fan was such a fun element to the set.

Touching on her mother’s passing and the song she wrote about her experience was Transcendance, what a beautiful song and the big screens radiated family photos of her mum over her life. The 2019 album of the same name is a real belter and one I suggest you check out.  It was time for the one every person in Rod Laver was waiting for, made famous by Top Gun back in 1986, Take My Breath Away. Starting with a surreal a cappella intro Berlin literally did take our breath away with this stunning rendition of the mega hit. Terri still hitting the high notes with ease and replicating the classic to perfection, accompanied on vocals by Dave Diamond who was sensational all night.

A ripping cover of their favourite Aussie band AC/DC’s Highway To Hell saw Rod Laver come to life as the punters sang with appreciation. Did they do it justice, a big hell yes, they were rocking it from start to finish, Terri’s big voice never wavering. Sex saw out the set and I was left completely satisfied; I just hope they make the trip down under again, they will be welcomed with open arms.

Calling Australia his second home it was no surprise that we were being spoilt with another live concert by Boy George and Culture Club. The buzz was electric as the lights went down, screaming fans waiting for their first glimpse of their 80’s idols, Rod Laver erupted as they took to the stage.  Looking fabulous in his trademark hat and ensemble of blue, black and white Picasso-ish jacket Boy George wowed us right from the start, add to this Mickey and Roy and you have Culture Club in all their glory. Opening with a cheeky cover of Sympathy For The Devil, and then the iconic It’s A Miracle, it was pure joy for the fans, immediately swept up in memories that are evoked by Culture Club’s amazing music. I’ll Tumble 4 Ya, and Move Away all sublime with some lovely images flooding the screen from film clips and photos from across the years.

Featuring in Culture Club’s last three show was another cover and one that Boy George has certainly put his stamp on, Everything I Own, it had the fans singing along as the coloured lights lit up the arena. Eyeliner Voodoo was a terrific addition, George talking of his early days when he was the only one who wore eyeliner, “and look at you now!”  he chuckled. Then they backed it up with one of Culture Club’s biggest hits, Do You Really Want To Hurt Me.  A song that the boys didn’t want to put out as a single but lucky for them the record label had other ideas and it sent them flying to stardom with number ones all over the world.  

The musicians and backup singers all amazing and with backing vocalist Roxy Yarnold celebrating her birthday Boy George dedicated That’s The Way from the iconic Colour By Numbers to her. They sang in tandem with Roxy hitting all the high notes with gusto, what a talent she is. The band faultless all night bringing endless energy and Boy George had his usual free spirit shining. You could feel the love and devotion so many have for Boy George, a man who has walked the hard road to be accepted so in turn others can feel free to express themselves openly. George’s 1000 kilowatt smile was infectious, he was so happy to be performing with his friends for life Roy and Mikey, with lots of cheeky banter and laughter constantly ringing out.

Letting Things Go, Angel Of Mercy and Melodrama were all well received the later being co written with Vangelis Polydorou who strutted the stage in a cloud of glitter and platform boots all night. Being wrangled by Boy George from the UK version of The Voice he had the pipes of an angel and was a fabulous addition to the band.  It was then time to ramp up the hits with Church Of The Poison Mind which had a delicious mash up of Wham!’s I’m your Man dropped straight in the middle, Time and Miss Me Blind the perfect trifecta to see out the set. We all knew there would be just a few more and waited patiently with a bit of cheering and feet stomping to get George’s attention.

Culture Club return with Boy George now sporting a yellow hat, and polka dot shirt in black and yellow to match, ever the fashionista!  Get It On opened the encore and this was one that Culture Club have refined to suit their sound and is always a welcome addition to the set list.

As Roy took to the keyboard I knew Victims would be next, it is my personal favourite and a song that I hold very close to my heart. I held back tears as Boy George delivered this beautiful song, a definite standout for me. The booming drums were an absolute showstopper, the sound resonating around the arena having a huge impact on all.  Karma Chameleon was the one we were all waiting for, the crowd were singing and dancing not wanting it to end, but they certainly had made enough memories in this one evening to last a lifetime.  

Culture Club really is the gift that keeps on giving, with every tour we get to unwrap another layer. Hopefully they will be back again, it really would be the best present one could ask for.

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[Review] Neck Deep @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 05/09/2023

Review By Nikki Eenink

As I left to see Welsh emo heavyweights Neck Deep rock the house at The Forum, my housemate said to me, shocked; “You’re going to a gig? On a Tuesday?” I shrugged. If there’s one thing you can rely on, it’s that the emo, punk and hardcore community will come out in full force any day of the week. This midweek feast for the senses was no exception.

Hailing from the tiny town of Wrexham, in Wales. Neck Deep have been a staple in any emo playlist since their foundation in 2012. Front-man Ben Barlow’s energy is the stuff of legend. He’s known for big jumps, shooeys and general shenanigans. The videos of him performing are insane; whole stadiums alive with energy, screaming and crowd surfing and ready to riot. I had measured my expectations, there’s no way he can do that every time. But when I tell you, it was all of that and more – it was all of that and more.

From the literal jump, Barlow leaps onstage and is a whirling dervish of limbs and sweat drops. His energy is infectious. Instantly, there is so much space at the back of the room as everyone lunges forward, hands held high, drinks sloshing onto the shortest of us. It’s mayhem. The definition of organised chaos. Never disrespectful, we happily collide and tangle ourselves in the bodies of strangers as we are thrown into Sonderland. The lights on the stage are amazing. Swinging spotlights in brilliant blues and purple flash into our eyes and reflect off the fearsome foursome onstage. It’s magical.

As their first number draws to a close, Barlow pulls the microphone in close. “What’s up my fucking low lives? Oh it’s been too long” We show our approval by wolf calling and a chorus of happy screams. And instantly, we are thrown back into the frenzy with Low Life. And what a bunch of degenerates we are. “Something is cooking, I smell some kush!” Barlow chuckles into the mic. And he’s right. The room smells of beer and weed and a little sweat. But looking around, everyone’s beaming stretched ear to stretched ear. There’s nowhere we’d rather be. “We never thought we’d come to the other side of the world and play for all these people”. And what an eclectic bunch we are. Skater chic, goths, guys in denim jackets. All of us move together as we push forward and give ourselves over to Kali Ma, screaming the lyrics that hit extra hard in this brutal Melbourne winter.

Count my blessings on one hand and my curses on the other / Let you slip between my fingers, hide away until the summer.

As this number draws to a close, Barlow addresses us again, in a speech that highlights the band’s blue-collar origins. “I don’t know much about Australian politics, but I do know you have a billionaire problem. You have the spawn of Satan himself, Rupert fucking Murdoch.” The entire crowd let’s out an animalistic: BOOOO. He winds on, commenting on capitalism and sexism and the issues facing us as a society. “Women have been talking about this shit for ages, and now it’s finally coming to a head. Things back on our Little Piece of Shit Island (couldn’t have described the UK better myself if I tried) are bleak. We’re fucking over it. If you’re fucking over it, I wanna feel that for this next song.” The next song, Citizens of Earth, goes off. We feel his words, and his rage, and we lean into that – letting it all out. Even as the crowd gets rougher, we take care of each other. Yelling “heads!” when the next person got up to crowd surf (seriously – so much crowd surfing), or holding the back of someone’s head so they don’t hit anything while they headbang. Right before the high energy bridge, Barlow screams into the mic:

FUCK RUPERT MURDOCH!

And we all cheer for the brief moment we can, before launching back into the song.

As it ends, Barlow is back. We hang on his every word, rapt. “I can see you’re pretty pissed off, that’s good.” We are all red-faced, with heaving chests and throats already raspy from singing (shouting) along. Pissed off, but ecstatic. “It’s important to remember; the billionaires might be out to get you, but life is not.” It’s then I notice the couple’s holding hands, the guy next to me with full neck and arms tattooed wiping away tears. This is joy. Life must be alright, because life’s got Neck Deep.

They wind through some more of the set, playing old and new songs. Teasing that there’s a new album to be released imminently. It just finished recording. I REPEAT, THERE IS A NEW ALBUM COMING.

Guitarists Sam Bowden and original member Matt West are unbelievable. These tracks have a newfound depth when you hear them live. The guitar zips around the room, perfectly nesting in my ears. Never too loud, or too soft. They play in perfect harmony. Nailing intricate riffs, unconventional time signatures, and the road-bumps that can come from playing live – they must be some of the best out there. Truly they never falter. On top of playing stunning melodies, and heavenly rhythm sections, they also manage to completely match Barlow’s energy. Jumping and swinging their guitars. They often motion for us to get more hyped up. It seems like they don’t even break a sweat. It’s absolutely spellbinding.

Of course, there’s the obligatory shooey. It’s an artist touring Australia right of passage. But I’m nervous for Barlow – this is very early in the set to be offering up a shooey. He’s opening Pandora’s Box.

“Are there any heartbroken people out there?” I scream, but I can’t hear myself. Everyone’s yelling. Even those with a partner next to them. Heartbreak takes many forms. Heartbreak of the Century is fresh off the press. A 2023 release, one half of their Take Me With You EP. “This one’s fresh out of the oven. We’re talking March 2023. But don’t worry, I have a gorgeous fiancé, I’m fine.” Barlow smirks. A girl behind me let’s out a guttural, devastated “Nooo!!!!!” This song could have been an earlier release, we know every word. It just rolls of the tongue. Lines like

“But my love aint enough. Maybe that’s ok. I was thinking about fucking myself anyway.”

Demand to be screamed. We all think we’ve gone through The World’s Worst Heartbreak. And even as we scream along, there isn’t a bad vibe in the room. We’re all just so happy to be here together. Heartbreak is a distant memory.

We hit some technical difficulties, so as they try to go into the second half of their Take Me With You EP – aptly named, Take Me With You. There’s an issue with the sound and lighting. Something techy. I was honestly too caught up in the vibe to realise. Barlow goes into, as he calls it, “A stand-up routine”. “This song is about aliens coming down, and wanting to go with them. I for one welcome our new alien overlords. But they don’t want us to play.” Turning to their drummer, Barlow says. “Take it away! Give us a drum solo!” Turning back to us, “This will be his first ever drum solo”.  We are treated to a delightful 30 seconds of bass and snare, and for the first time, we’re all quiet. Once he’s done, we all cheer and hoot and holler. The new addition to the band blushes. Barlow has been shifting foot to foot, looking down. “One of my fucking shoes is wet, I might do another shooey.” He immediately regrets teasing us with that. The crowd is ablaze with frantic cheers of “SHOOEY SHOOEY SHOOEY”.

Barlow relaxes into the technical difficulties; the band is confident in their ability to just keep playing. “Sometimes fan’s hear us play our more emotional stuff, or a love song, and go ‘waa waa, you guys have gone soft.’ Motherfuckers, we’ve always been soft. You guys remember Part of Me? That was maybe our first big hit, and it’s soft as fuck. We won’t be playing it. It’s had its time. Sorry guys. But we will play these next two for you.” And they don’t just play, they demolish Smooth Seas Don’t Make Good Sailors and then, personal fave, She’s a God.

For the latter, I move my way back into the middle of the crowd to scream along and happily bounce as I catch glimpses of Barlow and his merry misery crew, my vision obstructed by old-skool vans floating over people’s heads as 3 or 4 people at once crowd surf. The people clamber over themselves to grab Barlow as he sings into the crowd, or if he gets close. He smiles at them. “Let’s get this going! Let’s spin a little.” And the middle of the floor turns into a whirlwind. If a mosh pit could be loving, this one sure was.

Finally, the guys can play Take Me With You. And it was so worth the wait. It’s fun and sounds unreal over The Forum’s speaker system.

As the night is drawing to a close, Barlow says into the mic, “This is our last song.” We all try to get our breath, but don’t give him the reaction he wants. “If only there was some kind of performative bullshit you could do to get us to come back out, if only.” We laugh and humour him, a sea of “Nooo!” “One more song!” Smirking back at us. “I told you you’d get one more, easy.” And what better song to “finish” with than December (Again). It’s a Neck Deep classic. “This song is about being really sad in winter, but I guess here you’ll just be miserable on the beach.” And we all cheer. I think I ascended during this song. I’ve never had so much fun. I make friends, I nearly cry, I let it out. Un-fucking-believable.

They walk offstage, and we launch into a heavy chorus of “Noo!!” “One more!!” And, of course, as promised, they come right back.

“Alright! Let’s end this properly!” And we are thrown into Motion Sickness. I don’t know where we all suddenly got the energy, but it’s like the night is starting again. We all move with a renewed vigour, determined to make this night last. “Firstly a few thank-you’s. Thank you to our fucking unbelievable crew. We’re just some idiots who show up and play, they’re the reason this is all possible, all the hard work is them. They’re our best friends. They’re amazing. Thank you to all of you. Who came when we started touring down here, God, maybe a decade ago?” A few cheers. “We love Melbourne! We have so many friends here. The only person I know for sure who was here was a very young John Floreani.” As a good Novocastrian, I cheer until my vocal cords rip. I love you, Trophy Eyes. “And a special thank you to our all-round tech, Danny. It was his birthday yesterday.” Danny comes out and offers himself willingly to do a Shooey. He sacrifices himself on the Altar of Australian Tradition for his birthday. And we are so grateful. We go mental. “What a fucking legend!!!”

Then, they really do have two songs left. “This one’s for all the small-town heroes. But you can all get involved.” I cheer, the guys in front of me cheer, and the whole crowd starts to headbang as Can’t Kick Up the Roots pummels through the speakers. “We’re so grateful to have been from a small town, and to have never forgotten that, and not changed too much. But even more than that, we are so grateful we were given the opportunity to perform for, what? A couple thousand of you? It just doesn’t seem possible. Thank you. If you’re going to buy merch tonight, buy merch from our support act; Yours Truly. Give those smaller, local bands some love. It means more than you know.”

Yours Truly are a Sydney pop-punk band, keeping up with the OG-greats. If you’re a fan of Avril Lavigne, Paramore, or any of those 2000s gems – they’ll be right up your alley. The way High Hopes absolutely rocked the crowd at The Forum is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Female-led and unbelievably tight, they are taking that baton and running with it. Barlow puts it best. “Put them on during your next car ride, you just might find your new favourite band.” Even only catching the tail end of their set was other worldly. It just makes you want to dance, to let loose, to live the sort of teenager-dom they show in the movies. Let’s go, Australia, you’ve got something good here, let’s show them the love they so deserve.

Finishing with In Bloom, is just perfection. Not only is it one of my favourite, not just Neck Deep songs, but emo songs in general, it winds us down perfectly. It’s walked me down from my worst breakups, and it’s hyped me up on bus rides, keen for whatever comes next in life.

“I can try, but sometimes that is not enough. No, that is not enough.”

A singular chorus of screams, tangled bodies. Trying on our own is not enough, we need to lean on each other.

“You’re the only voice I want to hear in my head.”

All I want to hear, forever and ever, is Barlow’s insane vocals, the squeals of joy from the pop-punkers next to me, and our Anthems of Perseverance.

This song offers some of the best breakup advice there is.

“We’re never going to put the pieces back together, if you won’t let me get better.”

We need the time to heal, from life, from Rupert Murdoch, from being hit in the back of the head by some girl in platform Doc’s who just tried her hand at crowd surfing. We heal better together. We heal better moshing. We heal better screaming. We heal better with Neck Deep.

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[Review] Extreme & Living Colour @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 04/09/2023

Review By Cassandra Hale

It was a cold Monday night in Melbourne as I joined the masses lined up in the on again off again rain. With Extreme last gracing our shores in 2019 the fans were hyped, the wait has been long for a double header of this magnitude and we answered by selling out night one as only the Melbourne fans can do.  So this being the second show but coming first on the Thicker Than Blood tour schedule I was keen to get inside and stake my claim for a night of musical magic.

Living Colour have been strutting their stuff since 1984, but it was my first time seeing them and god damn I was excited. Being a show with two huge acts the Forum was packed early everyone eagerly awaiting the first song of the night. With glasses charged and the floor packed with die hard fans Living Colour burst on to the stage. Opening with a cheeky cover of the famous Rock and Roll by Led Zepplin it was evident they had a huge fan base as the Forum quickly came to life. Singer Corey Glover looked cool as cat shit in his salmon coloured suit and tie finished off with white trainers. His multicoloured dreadlocks and dark shades the perfect addition to complete his look. But looks aside his voice was an absolute showstopper!! Working through Leave it Alone, Middle Man and Funny Vibe the show was off and running at spectacular pace. Guitarist Vernon Reid showed everyone how it was done as he shredded up a storm, his faultless skills not going unnoticed. Living Colour had the fans bobbing as a collective, heads nodding and bodies grooving, it was such a chill vibe and one I loved being a part of.

With their sound covering many genres of music, bass player Doug Wimbish played homage to 50 years of hip hop with a quick-fire medley which included a snippet of The Message which had everyone singing along. Hip Hop aside you could have been lead to believe you were at a full on metal gig as drummer Will Calhoun unleashed on the skins. While he was hard to see, surrounded by a huge array of cymbals you could certainly hear him! Nothing Compares to You was another fabulous cover with Corey once again showing his vocal range then we were treated to hits such as Glamour Boys, Ignorance is Bliss and Times Up.  Of course, there is one song that Living Colour is famous for and if you don’t know it, what rock have you been hiding under! Cult of Personality had the crowd up and about and it also saw Corey take to the crowd for a sing. Finishing it out from the stands of The Forum the punters respectfully watched as he jumped up high and gave everyone further back the up-close experience. He then stayed on to finish out the night with the classic Clash cover Should I Stay Or Should I Go singing from the crowd with gusto. Living Colour left me well impressed, and I would certainly be lining up to see them if they make the journey to Australia again.

The magnificent Forum Theatre had swelled as Extreme fans turned out in force. The wait has been long but it was worth every day of every year to finally have them back in Melbourne. It was a very respectful fan base, all happy for the opportunity to see this awesome foursome live, it was smiles all round as we waited for the lights to drop. The back of the stage covered in the latest album’s mascot a fierce gorilla glowing under red lights that graces the cover of SIX. Taking their places under the cover of darkness Extreme exploded from the shadows in a wash of lights and colour with the massive opener It(‘s a Monster) followed by Decadence Dance. Everyone was losing their minds as #REBEL rang out, totally in awe of what was unfolding before us. With an opening trifecta of that stature it was going to be one hell of a night!

What can I say about Gary Cherone, his energy is effervescent, bouncing from the drum riser to cover every millimetre of the stage with ease. He delivered some very cheeky poses to the photographers and I swear he was a Cirque De Soleil performer in a past life. His fluidity was mind blowing, his stamina undying, he is the quintessential front man that any band would kill to call their own. Oh and let’s not forget, he can really belt out a tune, sounding as good today as he did twenty-five years ago. 

The hits (and there are many) kept flying out, Rest In Peace, Hip Today and Play With Me next on the list, I am still gobsmacked at how Gary delivered Play With Me live, the lyrics lightning quick and yet he does not miss a beat.  Kevin Figueiredo, affectionally known as KFig gave us a sample of his drumming as he moved up close to the fans as a small drum kit magically appeared in front of my eyes.  The punters singing loud, awash with happiness to have all four members up close and personal. Getting yet another song from the new album SIX with OTHER SIDE OF THE RAINBOW which was exquisite followed by the banger Hole Hearted which had everyone singing along.

Cupid’s Dead was amazing and had the crowd rocking out. Then the needle on my fangirl meter flew to red at warp speed as Nuno Bettencourt took to a stool for Midnight Express. His jokes and banter with the crowd were sensational and, in all honesty, I don’t think it was just the girls who were fangirling! The man-love for Nuno was obvious by the crowd that swelled around his microphone, was it for his astonishing guitar skills or his sexy good looks who knows. His shredding skills are exemplary, his guitar an extension of his body, never showy just musical perfection at its finest. Add to this a voice as smooth as honey and Nuno really is the complete package. A second stool appeared for More Than Words, Gary and Nuno not required to sing, we knew all the words and we sang them loud and proud. It was a special moment, driven with emotion and passion by all in attendance.

Now time to talk Pat Badger, as far as bass players go he is the glue holding this tight knit unit together. Pat is the backbone of Extreme, he is an unbelievably talented musician and has stage presence like no other, not to mention his outstanding vocals. He feeds off the crowd and his enjoyment in performing was evident all night. KFig was a joy to watch, his fluidity on the kit was mesmerising at times. He was born to play drums, a king on his throne, such a talented musician and a master of the skin hitting. We were then rocketed into the stratosphere as BANSHEE was unleashed, this song was next level and a testament to the 13 year wait between albums.  Am I Ever Gonna Change and Take Us Alive/That’s All Right were also welcome additions to the setlist.

Flight Of The Wounded Bumblebee saw Nuno’s hands possessed with the spirit of rock and roll, the fans transfixed as he blew as all away with his blistering speed and precision. Then the sensational Get The Funk Out, the punters losing their minds singing with fervour as the night was winding up in huge fashion. I would have been happy to end the night there feeling completely satisfied, but I felt there were a few left in the tank. After the boys left the stage, they were quickly drawn back by chanting and feet stomping to deliver not one but two more from the new album SIX.  SMALL TOWN BEAUTIFUL which merged into Song For Love and the extraordinary RISE. Holy shit the new stuff sounded amazing, and one would think it was part of the setlist for years, so refined and delivered with perfection. The band waved goodbye and slapped hands across the pit as HERES TO THE LOSERS played out over speakers. Just another taste of SIX to see out the night.

The Thicker Than Blood tour was a show of gargantuan proportions I speak for everyone who was there last night when I say get the FUNK back here real soon, we will be waiting with open arms. I of course will be back there Sunday night for the sold-out show to do it all again, see you in the pit boys!!

You can still catch this great show!

AUSTRALIAN TOUR 2023

THE FORUM, MELBOURNE
Monday, 4 September – NEW SHOW!
Sunday, 10 September – SOLD OUT
Tickets thru Ticketek

THE REGAL THEATRE, PERTH
Wednesday, 6 September
Tickets thru Ticketek

HINDLEY STREET MUSIC HALL, ADELAIDE
Friday, 8 September
Tickets thru Moshtix

ENMORE THEATRE, SYDNEY
Tuesday, 12 September
Tickets thru Ticketek

FORTITUDE MUSIC HALL, BRISBANE
Wednesday, 13 September
Tickets thru Ticketmaster

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