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[Review] Lord Huron @ The Forum, Melbourne 27/01/2024

Trying to find the words to describe Lord Huron is so difficult. They’re so much more than ‘indie-folk outfit’, ‘country sensation’ or any other combination of words rattling around in my brain. The show at The Forum proved to me that Lord Huron are so much bigger than a little box. I haven’t been able to get them out of my head, and that’s exactly what they were going for.

Support act, Asha Jefferies, should be a household name already. Her lyrics are beautifully understated, melancholic, and yearning. Her vocals aren’t like anything else I’ve ever heard. This is the last day of the tour, and yet Asha still soars to these breathtaking heights. If there is a ‘calling’ – this is hers. I stop before the main floor of The Forum, spellbound. She’s like sirens, harpies, or something else that would sink unsuspecting music writers. She feels like something out of a fantasy book. “The sound guys here are like the coolest, funniest guys ever! Give them a round of applause!” There’s just a moment of hesitation from the crowd, we are shaking off a musical spell. But then we cheer and clap and hoot and holler before she launches into one last song. “I have a new album coming out in April, check it out if you can!” I have marked April in my calendar with a big ugly red circle as a reminder, and you should to. “This last song is about loving your friends. I’m dedicating this one to Genie and Isaac, who are here tonight. It’s called Spinning.” I might gasp, or cry, or shuffle off this mortal coil for a minute. Spinning is stunning, it’s angelic and mysterious. How does Jefferies manage to capture nostalgia and aching so well in a 3-minute song? I feel like my heart strings have just strung her guitar. Listen to Asha Jefferies, remember to lie down somewhere soft, and let her take your hand and guide you into a part of yourself long neglected.

After a 30-minute break, admiring the beautiful interior of The Forum, the lights go dim. We know what that means; Lord Huron making their way onto the stage. They’re all wearing suits, in earthy fabrics like tweed or linen or suede. Two of them have bolo-ties, the bassist has a neck scarf. I see two big, black-brimmed hats. They look like relics from a bygone American era. I don’t think the cowboy aesthetic is an act for them, it feels natural. I could be convinced they bought those hats in 1879 from Ye Olde Hat Emporium. There is something timeless, powerful, and enigmatic oozing from the band.  Front man Ben Schneider seems aware of the folkloric, mythic quality the band has. After a haunting opening of Time’s Blur and Love Like Ghosts, Schneider takes the mic gently between his hands – and you could hear a pen drop in a sold-out Forum.

“We’re going to try to sort of take you on a musical journey. There’ll be ups and downs and twists and turns. Heartbreak and redemption, laughter, tears, high-fives, pats on the butt, making out – everything in between, ok? So, if you find yourself bored, or thinking ‘This isn’t for me.’ Just wait a little bit. Something your flavour will come up.”

Immediately, the band comes to life again. The lights on the forum stage dance in sunset reds and oranges and golds. Meet Me in the Woods, Mine Forever and Dead Man’s Hand, all perfectly flow into each other as I am spellbound by those lights. The instrumentals are flawless, they’re better than the album. Intricate guitar work, mesmerising vocals and a perfect dance of drums and bass in the background – it’s musical bliss. There are moments in the songs that follow that feel like homages to Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and countless other classics. Every song is Lord Huron listening, growing, and incorporating. Their entire setlist, their whole discography is a love letter to music. It’s written for those who came before then, and ferociously studied by those coming after them.

Wait by the River feels like a sermon. Schneider’s hands go above his head and he calls for us to do the same. Without thinking, my body obeys. But it isn’t just for this song, it’s the whole night. Every time they say clap, I slam my hands together involuntarily. They control every hair on my head, every muscle in my body. I’m not resisting the spell Lord Huron are casting. The band have themselves under a spell at times, like they’re mere vessels for something greater. The three guitarists in the back left drop their heads and sway, but somehow still play these beautifully intricate melodies. My jaw is still on the floor, if someone could pick it up as they passed – that would be great.

Towards the end of the night, is where we hit our high. Schneider leaves for a minute, and comes back wearing a comically large skeleton mask – el Día de los Muertos style. The World Ender and Ancient Names are both sung, played and demolished by skeleton-led Lord Huron. The mask adds to the feeling that these guys might be reincarnated, straight out of the Wild West. That they are mythical and mysterious and not of this world. The guitars are screaming, Schneider is strumming so fast his hands a blur. The vocals are the strongest they’ve ever been. I really struggled to describe this momento. It was so unexpected, so spooky, so perfect. A live-music best-of reel momento, for sure.

Something I never thought I’d see, was a theremín being played live. The stage goes black as Schneider changes out of his skeleton mask, and a single spotlight illuminates the neck-scarf wearing bassist; Miguel Briseño. He stands perfectly still, moving his hands into the instrument, and playing the most heartbreaking introduction to Way Out There. My heart almost can’t take it. I thought it would just get this solo at the beginning – oh, how wrong was I. For 4 beautiful minutes, we are treated to haunting theremin. His hands move with precision, melancholy, and appreciation for the strange instrument. He is a master. My friend keeps whispering “omg a theremin.” Over and over. Words can’t do the moment justice, yet again.

And of course, The Night We Met. One of the biggest songs of recent memory. This song is beautiful. It’s perfect, really. It’s so heartbreaking, so hopeful, so hopeless, so human. Listen to it. It makes my heart feel like it’s been chewed up, spat out, reinflated, and sent to find me. Everyone is singing at the top of their lungs. For that final chorus.

I had all and then most of you. Some and now none of you. Take me back to the night we met.

We sing and we scream, and we cry a little, and so do they. This was a special, intimate moment for everyone there that night. No notes, perfection. Now excuse me while I go cry and yearn in peace.

Schneider leaves us with some closing words, and a promise to come back soon. I’ll leave you with them, too.

See you next time, folks. Until then, live until you die.

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[Review] Amon Amarth / Trivium @ The Forum, Melbourne 23/03/2023

With Knotfest raining down upon us downunder after what seems like a quick set of months, The Forum called one last time before the anticipated festival, for all warriors, heathens and thrashers alike banded together as a ferocious unit at the behest of none other than the Viking metal heads themselves, Amon Amarth, joined by the ever so legendary Trivium, and Malevolence. Such a monstrous lineup couldn’t go unnoticed.

Hailing from the UK, Malevolence provided an energetic, enthusiastic warm up to kick off the three set gig, and despite being listed as a support under other heavy metal greats, they shined above that status. The frontman, Alex Taylor, had a coolness that radiated the entire venue that fuelled the powerful screamo vocals he amplified into his mic, and I could not resist pulling a face identical to my expression seeing a gorgeous woman in response to the bands disgustingly filthy breakdowns that could rapture the concrete below us. It was a shame that these beasts only had a 30 minute set, for their performance was a fiery highlight in itself that certainly got the crowd warmed up with veins bulging for the rest of the evening.

Donning a stunning backdrop featuring green dragons and red demons intertwined with the group’s logo, Trivium made their explosive entrance, and the music itself could have been drowned out by the collective roar of the crowd. And let me talk about the crowd for one second, for I have never in my life experienced such a wild, ferocious, and lively mob of metal heads, as the mosh and circle pits never wavered or broke, and every chiropractor in the state will be getting a run for their money with neck appointments. I was long before I was smothered and cramped among huge burley rockers carrying me closer to the barrier, and later to the other side of the stage itself.

The energy that Trivium brings to their live shows, even those on their 14th tour of Australia, is utterly insane, with the ever so charismatic Matt Heafy always being a treat to gaze upon, Corey Beaulieu’s luscious wet hair and glorious unclean backing vocals, Paulo Gregoletto’s forever plucking bass fingers, and Alex Bent’s incredible drumming precision. The Sin and The Sentence blew the venue off the roof, as did other hits such as Like a Sword Over Damocles and my personal favourite, The Heart From Your Hate. Matt Heafy never ceased exploring the stage joint from mic to mic across many lining the front, engaging with each and every section of the venue that fuelled him with overwhelming enthusiasm, causing the legend himself to claim that it was the greatest crowd they’ve experience down under, right before concluding the set with the undeniably monstrous number, Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr, a song that surely came close to destroying my vocal chords.

The glorious artwork of Trivium’s backdrop lowered to reveal yet another stunning piece, not of mystical beasts, but of a Great Heathen army, decked out along with wooden rune-riddled panels and a giant symbol of Mjolnir.  Even the mosh pit began early as the lights dimmed and blasted Iron Maiden’s Run to the Hills, before a melodic Nordic tune filled us all with more anticipation. And just like the thunder Thor blessed our Melbourne weather with that morning, the warriors Amon Amarth took up arms and explosively opened the finale set with Guardians Of Asgard. Johan Heggs ferocious, low growls as his signature vocal technique did not stray from its glory heard in records, for hearing it live provided so much power that you could almost hear Odin’s call among them. Not only this, but the guitar harmonies could in themselves rival the call of the Valkries for the precision and flawless synchronisation was a delight to every ear. 

In only an hour, the Scandinavian band of heathens managed to turn an entire mob of Melbourne Metalheads into a ferocious Viking army, who’s chants, roars, and horns in the air inflates our warrior’s hearts. In this crowd, we all thrashed and pushed each other in joyful jest and laughter.  In this crowd, women did not sit atop men’s shoulders, for it was the shieldmaiden sisters who carried the brothers. And I could not get enough of it. Even to Johan’s amusement and joy, the women out-screamed the men in a short contest, making us mere boy bruisers rather than brothers in that moment. Nevertheless, we all chanted and howled like Vikings all together. We all sat on the ground and simulated the rowing of a longship on a voyage to Put Your Back Into The Oar, with the backdrop now depicting said ship in a vicious storm. We were encouraged to Raise Our Horns and shout “Skal!” to the band as they collectively downed beer from their drinking horns before blasting into the hit tune. We especially did not let them conclude the show without the famous tale of Ragnarok through the number, Twilight of the Thunder God, and before we knew it, Amon Amarth return with Johan raising Thor’s famous tool, Mjolnir, above his head before crashing it down upon the ground kicking off the finale.

I do not remember the last time my hair and shirt were soaked in pure sweat, whether it was mine or others, however I couldn’t expect anything less experiencing the sheer power of these three legendary metal acts back to backs, all returning after years robbed by a pandemic. My soreness and lost voice only describes how much joy I had. Would I do it all again?

…….Yes. In a fucking heartbeat   

Amon Amarth, Trivium & Malevolence will be back on stage at the very first KNOTFEST AUSTRALIA kicking off today in Melbourne!

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

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

Information available at destroyalllines.com

March 24th, 2023 – Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne

Saturday 25 March 2023 – Centennial Park, Sydney

Sunday 26 March 2023 – RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane 

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George Thorogood @ Forum Theatre, MELBOURNE 28/10/2022

When you’ve been on the road for 50 years there’s sure to be generations of fans, and the snaking line of punters down Flinders St waiting to get into the Forum was a testament to the appeal George Thorogood and the Destroyers have had over the decades.

That eagerness to get into the sold-out venue and plant feet with a cold drink was rewarded with Aussie blues guitarist Hamish Anderson set the tone with some groovin’ blues.

His three-piece band’s 45-minute set was enough to whet the appetite of the full house and gathered new fans along the way.

But everyone was waiting for George, and Barry McGuire’s Eve Of Destruction was cranked up and started a sing along to bring out the band.

The aging blues star and his bandmates shuffled rather than leapt on to stage, and there was an early moment where one could be justified in thinking the old fella, wearing aviators and a bandana, might need a chair.

It was a few minutes into Rock Party before the sunglasses were flung overhead and the bandana was flicked off, and he let his fingers do the heavy lifting with his trademark blues and frequent banter.

He ripped into the band’s latest release, a cover of Bo Diddley’s Who Do You Love?, followed by Shot Down and Night Time.

The Destroyers pay homage to drinking and youthful rebelliousness, which at times seemed comedic seeing they’re all aged either side of 70, but it was lapped by an audience clearly reliving their party days.

From House Rent Blues they slid into One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer. Fortunately, the classic was finished before what was supposed to be a jam, while George took a break off stage, but was muffled as a sound glitch left the band jamming away oblivious to the fault.

With that finally fixed, the band were back at it and the house were all shouting Get A Haircut.

Born To Be Bad was always going to be the highlight and the band stretched out this classic before slipping into a Tequila.

Hamish Anderson joined the band on stage for Hank Williams’ Move It On Over, which was a guitar love-in before they all left stage.

The band re-emerged to ice the night with Born To Be Bad and farewell a satisfied audience.

Oddly the curtains drew with Advance Australia Fair and George saluting the crowd.

The Destroyers were back at the Forum the next night for another sell-out, which is testament the band’s longevity and fan base here.

For a wet and miserable Melbourne night, some grooving dirty blues was perfect.

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The Darkness @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 11/10/2022

Finally, after such a long wait since the Easter is Cancelled Tour was…well… canceled, our wait for The Darkness is over.   With COVID claiming so much from each of our lives, it is such a special moment to welcome back Justin, Dan, Frankie, and Rufus.

Now before welcoming The Darkness back to Melbourne in their opening show of the 2022 Motor-heart tour of Australia and New Zealand, the packed Forum, Tuesday night audience is in for a homegrown and very special treat indeed.  None other than the lads from Thornlie themselves, hard-rocking The Southern River Band. The pre-show stage darkness is broken by the unmistakable silhouette of the mullet from hell, marking the entrance of the brilliant Aussie Cal Kramer and the lads from the banks of the Canning River.

As The Southern River Band crank into their immediately thrilling set, one can’t help but wonder how much of the Aussie hard rock spirit that emanates from the Bon Scott statue at Fisherman’s Wharf in Fremantle has found its way into the music, the moves, the look and the feel of The Southern River Band.  Of course, everywhere TSRB plays, they leave with far more fans than they had when they arrived, but with the first song, it becomes abundantly clear that there were more than just a few fans of Rumour & Innuendo in this Melbourne crowd.

With the irreverent and unapologetic comical skills of Cal at the fore, the brilliant pounding and thrilling music of TSRB is always accompanied by a hilarious spattering of humorous intermissions that never fail to tickle the ocker in us all.

Every time this band takes to the stage, they seem to challenge themselves to do better than ever before. The remarkable thing is that they achieve it…always. This is the kind of support tour opportunity where a screaming Forum crowd, should by all rights guarantee a sold-out Watch Yourself Tour opener at the Corner on November 11th and a kick-arse national tour.

With stories from meth-ridden workmates when plastering worksites, to stealing the band intro thunder from the bass-wielding bandmates, to feeling like a sheep on a hobby farm, or the more malevolent edge to track about drug dealers where one can genuinely feel the drug-ridden underbelly of Gutterland, Australia oozing from their music into the daylight, the Southern River Band are never to be missed. Tonight, they gave Melbourne a small taste as to why.  Huge thanks to our hard-rockin’ heroes from the west.

But with a little tickling up of the stage and the affectionate coddling of instruments that musty surely be necessary to ready them for a thorough pounding courtesy of The Darkness, the wait is over. 

After a dramatic cinematic score introduces the atmosphere along with a fitting purple haze, the quartet enters the stage to an eruption of roars from the crowd as they open up with ‘Motor Heart’ and ‘Black Shuck’, Justin already delivering his quintessential high whilst flaunting his playful charm.

Accompanied by the equally talented ensemble, Justin Hawkins put on a stellar performance from beginning to end, amplifying his charm and wit, even donning a punky leather pest given by a fan in the audience. Movement and rock n’ roll presence like no other

Partway through the show, Justin broke into a famous Freddy Mercury-inspired call and response with the sold-out theatre of The Forum, even hilariously breaking into an operatic/jazz vocal performance which left every living thing in the room with a grin on their faces

After a rendition of Happy Birthday for an ambitious fan in the crowd, Justin playfully teases arguably the most awaited number of the night, ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’, right before erupting into the classic tune. Not to mention Justin abruptly halts the track right before the first chorus getting everyone to put away their phones and savor what was usurpingly a magical moment, before completing the song and walking off-stage

Closely following the amplified chants of the crowd demanding an encore, the ensemble breaks onto the stage once again, this time with Justin in a funky, country-like outfit while the rest of the band is damn near stripped down to boxers. The lights turn green and red as the group starts performing their festive tune ‘Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)’, joined by Cal of The Southern River Band accompanied by sleigh bells.

When we all thought it couldn’t get any better, Justin climbs onto the back of a security guard and surfs him through the packed Forum crowd shredding a long extended solo to their finale, ‘Love On The Rocks With No Ice

The Darkness can still be seen at the following dates: You wont regret it

Friday, Oct 14: Astor, Perth
Saturday, Oct 15: Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide
Sunday, Oct 16:  Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Tuesday, Oct 18: Kambri, Canberra
Wednesday Oct 19: Tivoli, Brisbane
Friday, Oct 21: Hunter Lounge, Wellington
Saturday, Oct 22: Powerstation, Auckland 

General Tickets On Sale Now From

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