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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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[Review] Blackpink @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne 10/06/2023

Review By Wendy Smith

So, K Pop.  If you’d asked me on Friday what I thought of K Pop, I’d probably have said that it is the epitome of a manufactured, manipulated, empty, mindless drivel that the music industry has ever turned out.  But other than purchasing a BTS burger at McDonalds, I have never given it any time so my opinions are admittedly baseless.  Ever on the hunt for knowledge and self-improvement, I accepted the challenge and fronted up at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne on Saturday night with a partially open mind and a great sense of curiosity. 

To say this gig was different to what I would normally spend my concert going money on is an understatement.  I was instantly conspicuous in the sold out Rod Laver Arena.  That’s 15,000 people, but is small potatoes compared to Blackpink gigs in Japan (110,000 people) and at Coachella (125.000 people).  I have blonde, curly hair – 99.9% of the crowd did not, sporting jet black, dead straight hair, the kind of straight that I have, at times, spent hundreds of dollars to achieve (we all want what we don’t have, right?).  I am 50 something – 99.9% of those present were somewhere between achieving their pen licence, and their driver’s licence.  But the sense of excitement was palpable and the arena was resplendent with probably 50% of the audience, having rented these squeaky hammers, like a child’s toy, except keeping with the theme, they were in fact illuminated pink hearts – soooooooooooo cute. 

There was no warm up band for Blackpink, instead, as I took my seat, the big screens flanking the stage were playing music videos…………of Blackpink!  The girls were running a wee bit late, and every time a video came to an end, an expectant cheer rang out, followed by an “Ohhhhhh” when the next video came on.  The crowd in the General Admission area were amusing themselves during the delay, with a thousand selfies.  Instagram is going to be awash later on.

At last, the lights went down, and after one last video, played at a louder volume, and by the light of 15,000 phones on video mode, Blackpink appeared.  Resplendent in baby pink, the choreography was slick and sexy and the opening song How You Like That, sung in a mix of Korean and English and definitely pulling on Asian influences with a great big serving of Hip Hop.  After the first song, the girls came forward to introduce themselves.  The giggling, blowing kisses and making love heart signs jarred massively with the hypersexualised costumes and suggestive dance moves I had just witnessed but that’s K Pop for you.  It turns out that there is an Aussie in the group – Rosie (spelled Rosé) is a Melbourne girl who entered a K Pop training camp in 2012 before being chosen for Blackpink in 2016.  The Melbourne fans were keen to welcome her home with her introduction getting the biggest cheer.

This show was divided into 4 acts and an encore, punctuated with costume changes.  The first Act was rounded off with the much more poppy Lovesick Girls, performed on Stage B.  The song ended with 2 streamer cannons going off, engulfing the crowd in streamers.  The punters loved it.

While the girls disappeared to change into something less appropriate, something unexpected was revealed from behind the huge video wall on the stage.  There’s a band!  Real live people playing instruments.  That was a pleasant surprise as up until then, I had assumed a backing track.  The girls reappeared and Act 2 started with another track relying heavily on Hip Pop (a new genre I just invented) Kill This Love followed by Pink Venom, a track that had a middle eastern vibe to it.

It was during this 5 song set that the band were introduced.  The 4 on stage musicians had their little moment and then we met Brandon…….his instrument – Pro Tools.  I had always thought this was a bit of kit confined to use in the studio and for fixing dodgy vocals.  But thinking about it now, the music of Blackpink definitely included sounds that guitar, drums and even keyboards, could not produce live so fair enough.  If it allows artist to recreate the studio sound in a live environment, which let’s face it, is what we all want when we go to see a band, go for it.  And I don’t think that even standing next to the bass stack, could the bassist have produced the hair parting, bass sound that accompanied Blackpink in certain songs.  The air positively vibrated.

Act 3 gave the girls their little solo moments with 4 songs that allowed them to show off their talents with songs that suited their personas.  Jisoo sang Flower, almost entirely in Korean with a very Asian sound.  Rosé gave us a mash up of 2 songs, Gone, a story of heart ache and On the Ground, a more upbeat pop song which also highlighted another unique aspect of this gig, the videography.  Sitting above what would normally be the sound desk but at this gig, looked more like the computer lab at Melbourne Uni, were 6 giant cameras, positioned to capture every move and gesture to be featured on the stage’s screens.  And in this song, there were also 2 on stage camera operators preceding Rosé up the walkway which really gave the video an interesting feel.  Lisa was up next with MoneyLisa is actually from Thailand and has the most American persona of the girls, covering most of the rapping and Hip Hop elements.  The solo’s finished up with Jennie, with her solo song, aptly titled Solo

Another costume change was required  to bring us into Act 4.  This set included a couple of absolute bangers with Shut Down and DDU-DU DDU-DU.   During the set also, the girls came out for a bit of chit chat giving Rosé a chance to talk about living in Australia and coming to Rod Laver to watch the tennis.  She seemed a little vague on this but considering she left Melbourne to go into the K Pop factory in Seoul at the age of 16, her childhood in Melbourne probably feels very distant.

A 2 song encore came (after another costume change of course, this time coming out in their own merch – well, a girl’s gotta make a living) we got Boombayah and finally a fitting song to finish on, the up-beat As if it’s your Last

So what do I think about my first K Pop experience?  As K pop seems to be the magpie of musical genres, pulling on multiple influences such as said Hip Hop, R & B, rock, jazz, electronic dance etc etc, there was something for everyone, including this jaded old Rock Chick.  The fact that Blackpink rely more heavily on harder edge Hip Hop and Electronic sounds made it an easier listen for me than if I’d ben sent to watch a band of pretty boys (sorry BTS).  So if Blackpink are ever in your area, go see them – you’ll be in for a great time. 

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[Review] Backstreet Boys @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne 28/02/2023

There is no doubt The Backstreet Boys DNA Tour has been highly awaited, with fans patiently biding their time amongst rescheduling and postponements. But the time is upon us, and boy am I excited and gauging the amount of people heading to Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne I am not alone. It is night one of two in this wonderful city, and the fans are coming out in force, keen as mustard to get amongst some long awaited boy band action.

Samantha Jade, winner of 2012 Australian X Factor had a wonderful time warming up the packed Rod Laver Arena. She bought a few friends along for added harmonies and delivered lots of classic covers that helped settle the nervous excitement if only for a short period. Samantha was well received by the expanding crowd and had them singing loudly along by the conclusion of her set. Her 30 mins was packed with hits perfectly picked to get the party started, and Samantha showed she can still deliver the goods.

The stage was set and it was impressive to say the least, a diamond shaped catwalk host to the most beloved fans, perched happily in the middle, and a fractured ribcage of framework over the main stage which was set in several levels. Huge screens hung from the ceiling forming a triangle the perfect additional for the fans who weren’t up close. I just knew right from the get-go this show would deliver with all the bells and whistles and the ripples of excitement were growing by the second.  The screams were electric as the lights dropped and the enormous screen behind the stage came to life, with lots of glitz the ensuing intro was enough to rouse the venue to its feet as the word UNBREAKLABLE flashed up followed by BSB. Images of the Boys appeared and amidst it all smoke cannon erupted as the Backstreet Boys made their first appearance.

Opening with I Wanna Be With You the show was off and running, It was an amazing two hours packed with four 30 minute sets, each accompanied by a costume change. Each set a different member having a chat, ever gracious and thankful for the fans who have stuck with them for 30 years. Tonight’s Melbourne show was number 200 in the DNA tour, which is no mean feat considering the size of its production, with three of the BSB team hailing from Australia it was lovely for them to have some time at home while still on tour with these big guns. The hits were unstoppable The Call, Don’t Want You Back and Get Down a few to make Set 1. The dance moves still as polished as back in the day, the BSB cut an amazing form as they strutted not just the stage but around the catwalk. Happily trading hand slaps with the fans in and around the inner sanctum, Brian nearly dragged into the pit on several occasions. His cheeky demeaner ever present as he works the stage giving plenty to the eager fans and loving every minute, his interaction so genuine it shone.

All of the BSB were so humbled by the fans all taking time to talk to them, hold hands and acknowledge them, it was lovely to see they are still so invested in what has made them who they are. Set 2 was launched with Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely, Incomplete and Undone. The stage backdrops constantly changing to suit the next song, visually it was a fest for your eyes and at times overwhelming with its Backstreet goodness. The Boys singing voices primed and just as good if not better than I imagined, the harmonies still quite magical and smooth as silk. The Shape of My Heart and Drowning another two fan favourites, the boy band moves melting the hearts of many.

Set three saw two large boxes appear on stage one with BSB and one with DNA which Kevin and AJ jumped into after being left onstage. It was time to give a bit back to the screaming girls that in another life threw their underwear on stage, now the boys would change in the boxes and throw THEIR underwear to the fans. It was a fun aspect and gave lots of giggles as the boys changed their threads and emerged looking fresh and ready to melt hearts. Quit Playing Games With My Heart saw the boys take a seat at the front of the catwalk as the stage raised to greet them. Nick and Howie facing the fans in the inner sanctum, happily chatting and signing autographs, could these guys be any sweeter?! As Long As You Love Me saw glowing mic stands arise from the stage floor and caused many a girl to swoon. No Place from the DNA album had a wonderful addition, the huge screens above us showing footage of all the Boys and their families singing the song and doing their day to day things. It was such a beautiful moment to match this stunning song, family is everything and while they are away they are bringing a little bit of home with them.  Then it’s time to head to the sky, the stage they had been sitting on raised up towards the roof and the Boys played a lovely A Capella tune showing they have the good even without music. The large screens above them descended until they swapped places and were actually on top of the screens singing from the rooftops. Quite the spectacle, but there was no time for rest as they hightailed it back to the mainstage for All I Have To Give, seeing out set three.

Tension was mounting, Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) had to being coming in hot and as the big screens came to life with another stunning intro the floor opened and the Boys appeared all donned in white, rising to the familiar tune we had been waiting for. Let me tell you, it DID NOT disappoint. The moves hit in stunning brilliance the stage awash with electric candy skulls in shocks of colour and laser lights. Rod Laver was on its collective feet and overwrought with happiness reliving this song of our youth. This last set packed a punch with hit after hit, We’ve Got It Going On, The One and I Want It That Way to name few. As the boys took their bows we were certain there was a few left in the tank and after a brief stage absence they were back to finish out the night. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart set pulses racing, and then the mega hit Larger Than Life which saw the smoke cannons explode and the dance moves hit celestial heights. Confetti rained down and streamers launched from the stage, a truly fitting end to a phenomenal show and one I will remember for years to come.

The Backstreet Boys really separate the wheat from the chaff, and they have been sowing golden fields uninterrupted for over 30 years. If there is one show you need to see in your lifetime it is this one, and while Backstreets Back, for many they never left!




For complete tour, ticket and VIP Experience information, visit: backstreetboys.com & livenation.com.au

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[Review] Del Amitri @ Palais Theatre, Melbourne 23/02/2023

There is a standing joke in my house involving Del Amitri. If guests are coming around for dinner, my husband will say, “time to put Del Amitri on”. They are always my dinner party music of choice. Why – it is perfect for that – inoffensive in lyrics and musical style, upbeat melodies and just perfect background music. That doesn’t sound like a band that I would put on in my head phones and listen to deeply but I do that too. And when you listen deeply, Del Amitri is actually the antithesis of everything I like, musically. First and foremost, it is borderline country. Country music makes my skin crawl. Harmonicas, steel and slide guitars and wiggly wiggly organs (played with high vibrato) will send me running to the hills (running for my life, even). And if you listen to the opening verse and chorus of Del Amitri’s Kiss This Thing Goodbye, and other songs, that’s exactly what you’ve got. So why are Del Amitri so dang likeable?

There is no better way to get excited for a gig than by finding a pub where other fans might congregate. The proximity of The Cross Scottish themed bar in Fitzroy Street to the Palais seemed a sure bet and sure enough, the tables were full to bursting with expat Scots, enjoying Steak Night and a pint of Tenants (piss weak Scottish beer) before the show. There was a real sense of excitement in the air, after all, Del Amitri have not visited these shores for 30 years.

The Palais is the perfect venue for bands whose music can be enjoyed perfectly from the comfort of one’s arse. The seating is probably as antique as the building and is prone to being lumpy and a wee bit uncomfortable after a couple of hours but on Thursday as the support act, Darren Middleton came on, all assembled were making themselves comfortable and settled in for some listening pleasure. The name meant nothing to me at first. The music from him and another guitarist/keyboard player and a drummer was very much in the right vein for the evening…pleasant and easy on the ears. After couple of tracks, he mentioned that he had written songs for Bradley Cooper to sing in A Star is Born! Hang On, who is this guy. All became clear when he dropped another big name….Powderfinger. Darren Middleton is none other than lead guitarist and songwriter for the hugely successful Aussie band of the 2000’s. Now he had my attention. I missed Powderfinger’s entire career, pretty much and if it weren’t for my sister sending me a Triple J top 100 CD every year, and picking up a copy of Vulture Street in a Tower Records bargain bin, I would never have heard of them. Darren’s solo work lacks a bit of the spice of Powderfinger, but I felt the presence of singer songwriters who have gone before such as Neil Young, who Middleton lists as an influence and you could tell.

2023 Del Amitri consists of just two of the original band members who started playing together in 1982, Justin Currie on bass and lead vocals, and Iain Harvie on guitar and backing vocals. And these two make some really beautiful harmonies together, at times, sounding Eaglesque. They opened with When You Were Young which seemed appropriate for a band of 50 somethings to be playing to a crowd of fellow Gen Xers. Undoubtedly looking older, but still sporting a very fine head of hair, Justin’s voice has lost none of the range and beautiful tone that is such a part of this band’s success.

Del Amitri’s second album, Waking Hours of 1989 and Change Everything of 1992 spawned their biggest hits, the first played tonight was Always the Last to Know. This song opens with the most heinous musical crime there is (in my humble opinion) – COWBELLS! But once you get over this it is a song, like so many of this bands, that tells a great story and brought a few “wee wiman” in the crowd to their feet.

They were powering through this set at breakneck speed. There was very little patter in between songs which was a bit of a shame and I think the crowd would have loved a bit of banter. He did manage a “Is it supposed to be this hot?” Thursday was a bit of a scorcher but you will come to Australia in February so Aye, it is supposed to be this hot.

The wonderfully upbeat Kiss This Thing Goodbye was greeted with a loud cheer from the audience. The song begins with the harmonica, again, walking a very slippery slope between pop and country, but again, still managing to be inoffensive to my sensitive ears. The next hit out of the box was the wonderfully moody and even a little bit sad Driving with the Brakes On. One of my faves.

After a set of 18 tracks, more hits than misses, the main set drew to a close with the wonderfully philosophical Spit in the Rain and Stone Cold Sober.

The message that more was expected was very clearly sent as the crowd, now on their feet, showed their appreciation and begged for more.

A 5 song encore ensued. It was always a given that this would include their biggest hit and one of the best pieces of lyrical story telling I have ever heard, Nothing Ever Happens. This song speaks of the repetitiveness of an ordinary life and it always makes me think of my Mother in Law who worked in the tax office as a typist for over 30 years.

Scotland is my second home, having spent all of the 90’s and most of the naughties living in Glasgow and I feel as proud as any Scotsman when I see “home” grown talent do well internationally. Del Amitri have been appreciated by more than homesick Scots in Australia since they first toured here in 1990 but I fear that this may well have been the bands’ Australian swan song. I am grateful to have felt the swell of affection for the band in Glasgow when they could be heard on the juke box of every student pub and University union on the west coast. And I’m grateful to have seen them grace the stage of the Palais on a balmy summer’s night in Melbourne, 30 years later.

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InterviewsTour Interview

Interview with Justin Currie (Del Amitri)

Hi guys.  Thanks so much for making the trek out to Australia and New Zealand, and we're looking forward to the gigs in February.  I am the token Aussie in an otherwise Scottish household with immediate family from Cranhill, East Kilbride and even my son was born in the Southern General so I have been indoctrinated into all things Scottish over the years.

I distinctly remember a news article on Australian television sometime in the 80's which was talking about how huge Del Amitri were in Scotland and it had subtitles as the reporter interviewed you and some fans on the streets of Glasgow.  Have you found your Scottishness a hindrance, or a help on the international stage over the years?

I think that might have been an Austrian programme in the 1990s but you might be right. I think our Scottish identity was an enormous help. It kind of kept us separate from the slew of English college rock bands of the late eighties and early nineties. We were more likely to be lumped in with Hothouse Flowers than say, The Wonder stuff or someone. So that Celtic thing gave us a niche authenticity or something. I mean, there’s nothing authentic about anything in pop but it helped us stand out nonetheless.

Have you ever been tempted to be part of the “80's nostalgia” circuit like so many other artists?

Our first hit was at the dawn of the new decade so we’re not really seen as an eighties act. We slipped between a lot of stools which helped us. We didn’t date quickly like other bands from defined scenes. We were just these plodders who wrote half-decent tunes. We kept having radio hits right through grunge and Britpop. But we’re not really a nineties act either. We’re on a side road, behind the big trees.

You've had reunion tours in 2014 and 2018.  Why has it taken you 30 years to return to Australia?

Nobody called us as far as I know. We’d have jumped at the chance anytime after 1990 but chance came there none. That Australian tour in 1990 was one of the greatest times of all our lives. We loved Australia, the people, the food, the beer, the music, the weed. And I got to meet one of my heroes, Grant McLennan in Sydney. I remember finding myself in nightclubs most nights after shows dancing to Suicide Blonde by INXS. We took a seaplane to a sandy bay for lunch. We met wallabies and wombats. It was kind of glamorous. And glamour is not a term ever uttered in reference to our band. I also fell in love with someone. Always the Last to Know came from that. In fact a few songs on Change Everything are very influenced by that tour. I look back on it with profound longing and the satisfaction that comes with knowing you’ve really lived.

Have you heard that in the South Island of New Zealand, they eat haggis, neeps and tatties every night?  What are you expecting from your first shows ever in New Zealand?

I did not know that. Are you pulling my leg? I have zero expectations so I’m excited to encounter it all with no prejudice. We’re overjoyed that we’ll finally see a bit of NZ. I’ve never met a Kiwi I didn’t like. Maybe I’ll find out they send all the nice ones abroad to make a good impression and the rest are actually bastards.

Biffy Clyro have been flying the flag for Scottish music for some years.  Who do you see being the next Scottish band to make it big?

Honestly I have no idea. I mean I’ve seen Biffy on the telly and they seem to make a good racket but I really don’t know the first thing about them. If I don’t know that what chance do I have of giving you reliable information?

You've been touring for the best part of 40 years.  How does “mature” Del Amitri do things differently to in the early days?

Sadly I can’t drink after shows any more. I really miss that, unwinding and maybe going out for a while. But I’m too old to socialise at all around gigs. I’m actually in my bed within an hour of most gigs I do. Iain still quaffs a bit of whiskey, bless him. Andy still opens a bottle of red an hour before shows. I tend to walk about during the day now where before we’d have been doing stuff for the record company. So I’ve seen a bit more which I love. Iain sometimes brings his bike and goes exploring. We wouldn’t have done that in the nineties. No time or too hungover.

Your songs and lyrics have meant so much to so many people.  I personally have been at more than one funeral where Nothing Ever Happens was played. How does it feel to represent or speak for a generation like that?

I love it when people tell me a song has meant a lot to them. That’s the prize for the whole effort. If a song moves one person it was worth the writing. But those songs don’t represent or speak for a generation. Some of them just catch the odd ear in a soup of nonsense. What these ears are doing in the soup is anyone’s guess.

My husband started a Facebook group, Scots In Victoria and there are now 3000+ members, it would be amazing if you gave them a shoutout at your Melbourne show.

It might be but I guarantee you I’ll forget.

We will look forward to seeing you soon and thanks for having a chat to us today.

Pleasure and thank you.

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Album ReviewReviews

The Butterfly Effect – IV

The Butterfly Effect completely passed me by first time around. Having lived overseas for all of the 90’s and half of the 2000’s, I came home to find there had been some awesome Aussie bands that had come and unfortunately gone during that time. So how happy was I to see them reunite and to have had the opportunity to discover them and see their fantastic live shows. Imago was on repeat in my headphones for many months and they were able to fill venues playing the songs that people loved from that time. Now, after 14 years, we have a new album to savour and an accompanying tour. I am very excited to hear the new songs but have some feelings of trepidation. Will they give us the sound that made us fall in love with them to begin with? Or will they be trying something new (always fraught with danger. I still haven’t forgiven Radiohead for the wanky, self-indulgent shit they produced from in the early 2000’s).

Track one is the title track IV. An instrumental piece that builds from a very minimalist beginning to a crescendo of guitars and drums with some lovely classical string sections in the mix. If I close my eyes, I can see a darkened stage with clouds of smoke tastefully lit and the crowd going mad with expectation as this track plays to announce the arrival of the band. Goosebumps!! Great start.

Track two is Dark Light and with the opening bars, I can see we are going to be on solid ground with this album. The soaring falsetto from Clint Boge and guitar in the minor key (I think, I’m no musician) gives that atmospheric, spine tingling feeling that is what I have always associated with The Butterfly Effect. The bridge sets the scene for a very singable chorus. This will be a crowd favourite at their upcoming gigs, I have no doubt.

Track Three is Wave of Tides – Long. The lyrics seem to speak of battling demons, being lost in the battle, searching for someone to help and the hope for better. I don’t know if this was written during the pandemic but in these lyrics, I feel something of my own struggles during the last couple of years and I think this song is going to be very relatable to many people.

Track Four, Nil By Mouth starts with some serious riffage. Definitely one of the heavier tracks on the album, this will appeal to the New Metal fans out there. Clint is pulling out all of the vocal tricks on this track as he slips from his signature falsetto to some dirty vocals more akin to The Amity Affliction than TBE. Short and sweet, but will be a great one to bounce to at a gig.

Track Five is The Other Side. The intro of this track begins with a drum solo from Ben Hall and how nice is to hear a drummer get a chance to really shine on an album track. Throughout the song, the drums are front and centre while guitar and bass are more an accompaniment to this. Love it. This will be another great gig singalong, I am sure.

Track Six is So Tired. Not one of my favourites. The verses are frenetic and jarring to the senses. And all of this culminates in a beautiful chorus that is all too short before we’re back to the chaos. The saving grace is the last two minutes of the song where it settles back into more melodic territory. Some will love it, me, not so much but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Track Seven is Unbroken. Another example of the perfect chorus and I would go so far as to say, a perfect example of an alternative rock classic. Very reminiscent of some of their earlier stuff but I am in no way sorry for that. It’s heavy enough for a good head bang but is full of lifting moments and I am very surprised that this was not the first single from the album. It will definitely be a floor filler live.

Track Eight is Great Heights. And I find myself running out of superlatives. I love a song that builds and the verse and bridge to this song feel like the foothills and the wonderful chorus is the pinnacle.

Another track that I think could easily be a single. A song of many parts which fit together perfectly to be another TBE classic.

Track nine is Start Again. At first listen, I thought this felt a bit like a filler track to me, but on about the third listen, I changed my mind. The bass and drums are a real highlight of the song and it definitely confirms to the TBE winning formula.

Track ten is the first single release, Visiting Hours. The melodic guitar on its’ own is the perfect accompaniment to some typically dramatically sung lyrics. It builds, but not as much as Unbroken or Great Heights. The lead break towards the end is perfection. Perhaps picked as the first single for a more radio friendly return to the airwaves, it certainly would not have been my choice. But I think it does let fans, and new listeners to TBE know what they are about and whets the appetite for more.

I was so excited to have the chance to review this album and to say I am not disappointed is an understatement. It has all of the ingredients that made The Butterfly Effect who they are while still being new and fresh. I cannot wait to see these songs live and to see how they are accepted by old fans and new audiences alike. BRING IT ON!!!

IV is out now.
Tickets for The Butterfly Effect’s upcoming national tour are on sale now from www.thebutterflyeffectband.com.au.
with guests Thornhill & Caligula’s Horse
Tickets available from: www.thebutterflyeffectband.com.au



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Gig ReviewsReviews

[Review] Thornhill @ 170 Russell, Melbourne 15/07/2022

This was my first pub gig since Covid struck and I was ridiculously excited as I descended the stairs to 170 Russell (or Billboards as it will always be to me and those of my era).  As I was arriving just as the first band on the bill, Banks Arcade was starting their set, I expected a thin crowd as you often see for the first band up on a bill of 4. So seeing the place heaving already was a very pleasant surprise and it also meant I had to elbow my way into my favourite spot at this venue.  Either Banks Arcade has a lot of mates, or everyone was as keen as me for a dose of live music and made sure to catch all the supports.

Banks Arcade is difficult to pigeonhole (if you like your music in neat little boxes).  Their 5 song set gave us everything from the dark, heavy electronica of Don’t Start, the Hip Hop/hardcore hybrid of Used, to the very poppy Sick (that had a very liberal nod to Amity Affliction’s pop/metalcore mix IMO).  Describing something as “Poppy” is an insult in my book, but I actually really like this track with its’ many parts, tempo, and mood changes.  These Kiwi transplants to Melbourne are definitely one to catch again.

I’m afraid I do not understand the appeal of full-on metalcore vocals so I could tell straight away, that I was going to have a bit of a hard time with Gravemind. But amongst the demonic vocals, was a bass that rattled the mirrors and made its’ way around the room via the floorboards and some very impressive lead breaks. Soundgarden they are not, but entertaining, musically proficient, and well appreciated by the crowd they were, even obliging with a circle pit on Billboards diminutive dance floor. 

Dayseeker had made the trip out from LA to support Thornhill on this tour and this was definitely appreciated by the enthusiastic crowd. Henceforth, their style of music shall be called ”Popcore” as this was definitely Hansen meets Sepultura.  There must be a “Metalcore 101” course out there somewhere as despite the obvious difference in style, the similarities in guitar and bass with Gravemind were unmistakable at times.  But unlike Gravemind, Dayseeker has one foot firmly in the Pop genre, making it a bit more palatable to this old bag.  I was reminded of Bullet for My Valentine with the liberal use of a double kick drum and metal guitar in The Colour Black and Crooked Soul and this is definitely to be encouraged.  The more I’ve listened to Dayseeker since Friday, the more I like ‘em.  You are welcome back in my city anytime.

I love atmospheric Aussie Pub Rock!  Stick me in a room with Karnivool, Cog, or Sleepmakeswaves and I’m a happy bunny, so I was very excited when I started checking out Thornhill prior to Friday night’s gig and felt the goosebumps breaking out all over.  But listening to a band on Spotify cannot always prepare you for the live experience and the experience of seeing Thornhill for the first time for me was one of having my tiny mind blown.  It is many years since I have seen a front man like Jacob Charlton. His vocals are perfectly suited to Thornhill’s brand of heavy atmospheric rock and he slipped seamlessly into an impressive falsetto on a number of tracks.  Resplendent in white singlet and a lovely pair of red driving gloves, often taking a backseat singing from the drum riser and letting bassist Nick Sjogren take the centre, he nevertheless OWNED it.  At times channeling Michael Hutchence with “stripper hips” moves and other times, Freddy Mercury stalking the stage with half a mike stand, this guy was mesmerizing.

Right, enough gushing.  Musically, Thornhill reminds me very much of a heavier Karnivool only more tightly crafted with less of Karnivool’s weird mucking around with the tempo in a song.  And despite my aforementioned dislike devil summoning, vocal cord destroying screamo vocals, the occasional use of them is acceptable in my opinion and can add a heavy edge (I luuurve me a bit of Bullet for My Valentine and they are masters at this) and I was not perturbed by their use in songs like Views from the Sun.  There was plenty of light and shade in this set with tracks like the near instrumental All the Light We Don’t See (the vocals don’t start until 1:10 on the album version) and Lily and the Moon sitting in contrast to the heavier tracks like Arkangel and Coven

Thornhill looks to have a busy time coming up as they have a dozen US shows supporting Erra immediately followed by a week of headline shows.  AND, they are supporting the wonderful Butterfly Effect on their Australian tour in October.  Jacob said at one point that 170 Russell was a venue they had always dreamed of playing.  I say, dream higher, as you guys are going places and I hope you don’t mind if I come along for the ride.

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