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LIVE REVIEW: Sweet Dreaming: Eurythmics Reimagined – Perth, December 3rd 2020

Eurythmics Reimagined - Perth 2020

 

Orchestrating music from differing eras & genres has become an exciting & interesting way for audiences to hear songs that may not have grabbed their interest at the time the artists in question were releasing music at their peak.  Australian rock legends The Angels have done it with great success on their ‘Symphony of Angels’ shows, New Order’s Pete Hook orchestrated Joy Division’s work including a sell-out show at London’s Royal Albert Hall, but it’s been the recent performances of the Perth Symphony Orchestra they have really raised some eyebrows.  Their exceptional work with the music of The Doors and more recently David Bowie, highlighted the incredible talent we have here in Western Australia. 

So, I was excited to see & hear their latest offering, performing the iconic music of The Eurythmics with some wonderful vocal talent to accompany them.  Back in the eighties and early nineties Annie Lennox & Dave Stewart could do no wrong, as they delivered hit after hit with Lennox frequently collecting accolades for her unique vocals.

 

The evening started as it meant to go on… with a bang, as INNEKA started the night off with a fast-paced set more in tune with a Ministry of Sound festival.  The all-female quartet danced around the stage in their eye-catching outfits, while surrounded by an impressive lighting set-up that would play envy to many an international event.  Fresh from their recent appearance on Telethon, INNEKA warmed the audience up nicely in anticipation for the main part of the night.  INNEKA are Sasha McCulloch on cello, Cheralyn Simpson on viola, and Jasmine Skinner & Madeleine Antoine on first and second violin.

It was time to charge our glasses and retake our seats as the fifty-strong Perth Symphony Orchestra led by Jen Winley making her first-time appearance as PSO conductor took their places, tuned up and kick started the night with ‘Love is a Stranger’ as all three of our vocal guests took to the stage adorning blonde wigs.  Freddie May, Sabrina Davies & Ali Bodycoat then took us on a musical journey through the different stages of The Eurythmics and Lennox with their own mark firmly stamped on the varying songs.  The audience were encouraged to get up & dance, take photos & film to the hearts content, a rarity these days at live events.

First to take to the stage was Irish non-binary Fremantle-based vocalist Freddie Mai with their buzz-cut bright orange hair akin to the early Eurythmics album covers from the eighties.  There aren’t many more iconic songs than ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’ and after a nervous start Mai soon got into the swing of things as they took on the duos early years with songs mostly taken from the third album ‘Touch’, which was released way back in 1983.   ‘Right By Your Side’, ‘Who’s That Girl’ & ‘Here Comes The Rain’ were taken on very much with Mai’s emotive and passionate style as they strutted and strode across the stage in an almost anarchic manner, before disposing of their overcoat to reveal a whimsy black bra and baggy trousers.  The energy in the room began to lift as the orchestra lead us into ‘There Must Be an Angel’ with Mai joined by Sabrina Davies, to tumultuous applause to give the song an extra boost.

This signaled an end of Freddie’s stint (for now) as the confidant Davies took centre stage and immediately lifted the audience with her charisma & obvious excitement, clearly a popular Perth favorite by the reaction & reception she received.  For those not familiar with Sabrina Davies’ work, she is usually performing songs from the back catalogue of global superstars like Pink & Lady Gaga as well as being a singer/songwriter in her own right.  Tonight Sabrina delved into 1985’s ‘Be Yourself Tonight’, an album which included guest appearances from the likes of Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin & Elvis Costello, such was the quality of the music as well as tracks from the follow-up ‘Revenge’.  ‘Would I Lie to You’ immediately had the room rocking and, on their feet, before Sabrina allowed us to briefly catch our breath with a wonderfully rearranged version of ‘It’s Alright Baby’s Coming Back’.

 

Eurythmics Reimagined - Perth 2020Eurythmics Reimagined - Perth 2020

 

After a brief intermission (time to recharge our drinks again) Freddie Mai rejoined proceedings for ‘Thorn in My Side’ before Davies told us she was to be taken out of her comfort zone with a ballad, the stunning ‘Miracle of Love’, which she delivered faultlessly.  Sabrina definitely saved the best till last, as ‘When Tomorrow Comes’ threatened to tear the roof off HBF Stadium.

As the crowd sat back down and the orchestra regrouped, I wondered just how Ali Bodycoat could possibly top that.  Well, I soon found out as the experienced jazz vocalist took us through Lennox’s solo works with exceptional professional delivery.  ‘Little Bird’ was followed by ‘Why’ with Bodycoat adorned in a vibrant Lennox-style feather head dress and multicoloured sequined body suit.  ‘Walking on Broken Glass’ and the Oscar winning ‘Into the West’ from the movie Lord of The Rings closed the set leaving the exhilarated audience wanting more.  And more we got, and the three vocalists returned to deliver a wonderful finale of ‘Missionary Man’ & ‘Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves’, which again allowed many to get up and dance in their aisles.  As the buzzing throng left the stadium still chattering about the nights events I was left wondering what PSO would be looking to take on next – tonight was a hard act to follow but I’m sure they will follow it with gusto & continued success.

A huge congratulations needs to be passed on to the composers & arrangers who we were introduced to during the proceedings.  Musical genius’s in Ash Greig, Rebecca Smith, Bourby Webster & Corby Murphy worked incredibly hard on these songs to great effect.  One more brief pat on the back was to the venue staff – tonight HBF rolled out the SafeWA QR Code app two days ahead of schedule and I was dreading the thought of long queues, grouchy patrons and faulty technology.  But no, the queues were almost nonexistent, patron’s patient & staff ever helpful and accommodating.  Well done HBF Stadium.

Set List:
Freddie Mai, Sabrina Davies, Ali Bodycoat: Love is a Stranger
Freddie Mai: Sweet Dreams, Right By Your Side, Who’s That Girl, Here Comes The Rain, There Must Be An Angel (Duet with Sabrina Davies)
Sabrina Davies: Would I Lie To You, It’s Alright Baby’s Coming Back, Thorn in My Side (Duet with Freddie Mai), Miracle of Love, When Tomorrow Comes
Ali Bodycoat: Little Bird, Why, Walking on Broken Glass, Into The West

Encore
(Freddie Mai, Sabrina Davies, Ali Bodycoat): Missionary Man, Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves

 

PHOTO GALLERY
Photos by Electric Shot Media

 

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LIVE REVIEW: Legacy Alive Great Unknown EP Launch – Perth, November 28th 2020

Legacy Alive - Perth November 28th 2020 | Photo Credit: Sharon Burgess

 

Music has evolved through the years, from humble beginnings in Tribal Chants to majestic symphonies of Mozart and Chopin, to the Rock N Rock Diner era of Chuck Berry and Little Richard. The Beatles took the world of current music into a new era, spawning a plethora of kids wanting to be the new Beatle Mania.  The next chapter in musical history, which is pivotal to the reason we stand here in Amplifier tonight, was opened by one man, a preacher’s son who wanted nothing more than to have that mania whilst riling up the parents.  His love for being different, putting on a show, wearing tight spandex and make up, gave the world something it wasn’t ready for at that point.

As the Great ‘Dee Snider’ once said about this genre’s beginnings, ‘Alice Cooper ejaculated and Glam Metal was born!’  If that isn’t the greatest way to explain the music of the 80’s, I don’t know what is. It is a genre that has influenced artists across the years, a staple of many party playlists, and one which age is not discriminatory. Watching as the crowd pilled in and packed out Amplifier, the age was diverse from the new 18 year-old partygoers to the faithfuls who had the long perms when ‘Slippery When Wet’ was on cassette tape and sat at number one.

The night’s bill was filled with bands who all had a love for the genre, a love for the great era of massive hair and chunky riffs, followed by a stage performance that was more than five dudes in jeans playing instruments. There was no band more fitting than Hair Metal Heaven to start the night off, I spoke with Jacob Kenny from Legacy Alive after their sound check and asked about his choice for the evening. There are many who have asked him why put a cover band on his show, it isn’t usual for an original band show, let alone an EP Launch.  His answer was quite simple, ‘We played on their show at Lucy’s Love Shack and it was so much fun, so I knew when we did this launch we had to have them on ours.’

For me I felt it shown the roots of where most of the musicians on that stage came from, we all as artists learnt by playing other musicians work.  All of the greats we idolized all started off playing other people’s music, hell Alice Cooper’s first band The Spiders opened for The Yardbirds and played The Yardbirds music during the set!

As Hair Metal Heaven hit the stage the room started to quickly fill and the crowd sang to all the anthems that they knew.  Having seen Sexl (Sal Abate) in his lead role at the helm of Australia’s premier Guns N Roses tribute band, Gunners, I knew this set would be performed flawlessly. Sal, has one of the largest vocal ranges I have seen, he hits notes with both pitch and tone perfection all whilst creating a cohesive bond between the band and audience.

So, with the hair large, the spandex tight and banter flowing, Hair Metal Heaven launched into their set with gusto and flair.  As the riff of ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ kicked in the crowd pushed forward edging for more as Randii Loads (Nigel Woodward) and Itchy Zamora (Alan Dunne) set the tone for their skill on guitar for the evening.  Cherry Pie is a song that had the crowd shouting along with the backing vocals, as Sexl effortlessly powered out the vocally complex pre chorus.  One of my favourites for the set list was The Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Osborne’s smash hit ‘Crazy Train’, Squeezer Butler (Matt Harskamp) and Chad Thundercock (Jamie Harskamp) locking in impeccably and still maintaining stage presence between them.

The set list took a slower pace as we were advised the next song was to be dedicated to Randii’s father who had sadly passed away. As Sexl belted out Skid Row’s ‘I Remember You’ with vocals rivalling Bach’s original version, and Randii hit a spine chilling solo, every member of the audience was with him in that moment, feeling the emotion with every note he hit.  That is the power of music, a crowd of relative strangers, singing along with a group of lads on stage in Australia to a song that was written by Skid Row, 30 years ago on the opposite side of the world.  I was so caught up in the moment on stage that I didn’t turn to watch the crowd but I can only imagine there was a few lighters up in the air during that song. It was a very moving tribute alongside the black memorial bands that the band wore through their set.

Throughout the set there was banter a plenty as Hair Metal Heaven put on a full show including crowd participation where possible, it was like watching an early incarnation of Steel Panther with jokes, innuendo and plain silly fun.  I think Australia, needs a tongue in cheek band like this, the world is far too serious, there’s so much doom and gloom everywhere you look and Hair Metal Heaven are jumping around the stage, having fun and reminding us of when the world was a little less dark, and to top it off they are all excellent musicians.

They teased us as little as Sexl commented on Squeezer’s Poison T-shirt and Itchy kickstarted ‘Talk Dirty To Me’ there was a huge cheer but alas there was no dirty talk.  They softened the blow with a little Def Leppard, at this point I was surprised at how many 18 year olds knew the words to all of it, I guess the newer generation will hold up the rock n roll torch.

‘Kickstart My Heart’ was a fitting finale for this band as it showcased all of the band’s talents from Thundercock’s impressive skin smacking to Sexl’s vocals which again I have to say would take on Vince Neil’s any day, they certainly had the crowd pumping, the blood flowing, and them screaming for more.

I absolutely loved this set, it was a performance and a half and I can’t fault it, oh wait a minute yes I can, IT NEEDED MORE COWBELL!!!!

Set List: Welcome to the Jungle, Unskinny Bop, Cherry Pie, Crazy Train, We’re Not Gonna Take It, Rock You Like A Hurricane, Nothin But A Good Time, I Remember You, Pour Some Sugar On Me, Kickstart My Heart

 

Diamond Sky - Perth November 28th 2020 | Photo Credit: Sharon Burgess

 

As a mass of hair and spandex exited the stage, whilst stage hands frantically changed the set over, a different styling of hair and all things bedazzling entered.  The sheer glittering of the vocalist blinding everyone with his silver starry shirt had the crowd waiting with anticipation.  There was no introduction, Diamond Sky launched into ‘Outlaw City’, their sound is nothing like anything else here in Perth, their composition is similar to bands like Alestorm, Nightwish and System Of A Down, its technical, intricate and Freddie Mousavis’s Vocals are exquisite.

I had been eager to see Diamond Sky for a while, I have seen two fifths of the band in their tribute band, System Of A Down Under before so again I knew the musicianship would be second to none, but I was genuinely impressed with the show they put on.  Freddie’s vocal range and strength is striking, having the ability to move through complex melodies, high notes and even a couple of gutturals.  Cameron Nicholas shreds with precision as was shown in ‘Providing The Fuel’, his stance and stature on stage is powerful, almost Viking like.

Paradise’ took me on a journey, I felt like I was heading out to return a precious ring with some mates, in all honesty I say this to emphasise the songwriting within Diamond Sky.  Their songs have the structure and ability to be in the background of motion pictures, their cohesiveness on stage showcasing that not only are they a band who can write complex pieces but can also bring them to life in a live setting.

Their new track ‘Your Hair’ showcased Tom Langridge on Keys/Keytar, he has an immense skill and one of the only keytar-ists that I have ever seen play live.  As the song was a little more stripped back and slower paced that the others it gave a look into the relationship between both an intricate shredder in Cameron and Tom whose fingers were flying up and down those ivories.  It was something else to watch indeed, I loved Freddie’s vocals on this song, it felt a little more intimate and vulnerable than the other songs, it was also the first time this was played live.  They show that you can be hard and heavy whilst going a little slower.

My favourite track of the night was ‘We Are Heavy Metal’, yes, you’ve guessed it, it was bass heavy, haha.  Mark Derbyshire has the speed to rival many on bass, the rhythm connection between him and Jake Isard on drums was tight and flawless.  Everything worked in this track, one happy metal fan here.

One nod back to the beginnings of hair metal was Diamond Sky’s version of ‘Poison’, the crowd loved it, the band looked like they were having fun and Freddie has that growl in his voice that can pull an Alice Cooper song off.

I definitely recommend seeing Diamond Sky, they’re entertaining on stage, are some of the most talented musicians I have seen here and bring something to our stages that we don’t usually get here.

Set List: Outlaw City, Providing The Fuel, Paradise, Your Hair, We Are Heavy Metal, Rock Me To The Beat, Poison (Alice Cooper), Shortcut To Heaven

 

Legacy Alive - Perth November 28th 2020 | Photo Credit: Sharon Burgess

 

As the bands switched over, I glanced around and saw what has to be one of the largest crowds I have seen in Amplifier when it’s not an international touring band on stage.  It’s a testament to the bill that was given to us on this evening, as Legacy Alive started with a band riff intro reminiscent to something the late Eddie Van Halen would play. They then kicked into ‘Firefight’, with Jacob Kenny pumping out a heavily distorted riff before taking on lead vocals, Jacob has the vocal range of the great man himself, Mr Bruce Dickinson, if Iron Maiden ever needed a front man again, they could easily look to him, plus they have a Steve Harris in bassist Owen Fisher. Speaking to Jacob earlier he mentioned the band sound is heavily influenced by Journey and Van Halen but I can never get past the feeling of Iron Maiden influences in Legacy Alive, which I feel is so prominent with their track from earlier in the year ‘Let It Go’. 

It’s a hell of a track and one I wish I’d written!  It is a high contender for my song of the year, and I am not talking about Australian song of the year, I am speaking about all music that I have listened to and reviewed from my beginnings with Nightwish to Marilyn Manson and Seether and I bloody loved those albums.  There is just something about it that gives me everything I love in a song, the bass is blistering, it layers perfectly with the drums as Frank Lupino thunders through fills and rolls. The vocal melody is intricate, the joint soloing between Jacob and Curtis Sucksmith is sheer enthralling pleasure to my ears.

Now played live, ‘Let It Go’ is a show stopper, it brings out that extra quality in each musician and Legacy Alive looked both seasoned in their skill level but had the excitement of being the first show they have ever played.  Owen stood out for me, I have never seen him play like this with the crowd before, a group of lads stood in front of him were having the time of their lives and oh did Owen join in.  As he played, he got down to their level and played off their energy as their hands beckoned for more and more, which he happily gave to them, it was ongoing for the whole night, with high fives and praise after each song for him.  I asked him after the show about the guys to see if he knew them as they were so fired up but genuinely looked like they hadn’t seen a live band before, and he said ‘he hadn’t met them but as they were getting into it, he wanted to fire them up. As someone who has just turned 20, a lot of the people in high school were all used to other genres other than rock or metal unfortunately. So, to notice young lads really getting into our stuff was really awesome for me to see, it was really cool.’

Owen may only be 20 but his skill level does not tell his age, his bass playing is phenomenal for a bassist who has only played for three years, his ability, speed and fluid style is a testament to his dedication and the legends that have influenced him from Les Claypool to Chris Wolstenholme.  His brutally honest answer when I asked him how he got so proficient so fast…..‘I practice every day’, shows that he is a very down to earth guy with a huge future ahead of him.

Dropping the tempo and changing things up, Jacob introduced ‘Good Ride’, the most political piece he had written, whilst a little calmer than others, it has a slight funk feel to it.  Basslord Owen was on fire tonight as he had a wireless issue with his bass during this song, but in true Owen style, the signal managed to cut out on the slower parts of the song adding to the atmosphere.  It did not cause issue to the audience, I don’t even think they realised, I just know the moment of despair in a musos face and the frantic look to the amp when something goes wrong, the song however was another hit with the crowd as they surged and shouted for more.  With leads switched over Legacy Alive kicked up the dial to 11 again with ‘Lucid Chances’, they quickly become a six piece as Stuart from Bohemian Crash joined for backing vocals with some pretty striking harmonies.

 

Legacy Alive - Perth November 28th 2020 | Photo Credit: Sharon Burgess

 

‘Goodnight’ swiftly followed, it is an extremely emotive ballad, showing that Legacy Alive are able to pull an exposed live performance out without issue, the crowd loved it and Jacob’s voice excelled.  It was interesting to see the band members interact during this track as there wasn’t any effects or a high performance intensity to hide behind, it’s four musicians raw, bare and proving why they deserve to stand in front of a near capacity crowd and do what they love, Curtis shone during this song for me locking in seamlessly between Jacob on lead and Owen and Frank in rhythm. I have to add in, the last vocal hold from Frank was chilling and a gripping moment. After the show, I took a step back from the live performance to listen to the lyrical content of the track, it gave further credit to the high quality of composition, both musically and lyrically.  It also gave me a greater understanding to the formidable formula that makes up a Legacy Alive song.

The culmination of the evening was the lead single from the EP launch ‘Great Unknown’, as Jacob announced the EP was originally an album but they decided to split it into two EP’s to get it out faster in this year of uncertainty and unknowns.  The track is a fiery piece, steeped in all of the delights of eighties grandeur, it’s stacked with riffs, a catchy as hell hook and oozes with guitar solos that you would want in a Van Halen or Bon Jovi piece. I particularly liked Frank’s style throughout this song, he clearly has a comfort behind the kit, fluidly moving through rolls and fills throwing in stick spinning whilst singing harmonies, a true pleasure to watch.

I think a huge factor in what makes Legacy Alive the complete package is the fact they do everything themselves, whilst the drums were recorded at Vision Studios everything else on the EP was recorded at Legacy StudiosJacob mixed, engineered and mastered ‘The Great Unknown’, he’s truly a very talented man, speaking with him about the process he mentioned they had been mastering for a while now, working on a single with Jackson Koke and Matt Taylor (Chain).  I think this is another reason that I feel Legacy Alive is a very underrated band, from their show being packed out with fans to recording, mixing and mastering their own music to even working on other musician’s tracks.  I cannot wait to hear the full EP in February when they release it at Perth Rocks Festival.

If you haven’t already seen them, I strongly recommend going out to see them, the same for all of the bands on the show.  As always thanks to Scott Crighton for the impeccable sound, to Amplifier for their newly improved set up including an outdoor beer garden and of course to the Legacy Alive boys for putting on a show with the perfect three band line up which allowed all bands to get a decent 45 minute slot each.

Set List:- Firefight, Let it go, Crisis, Good Ride, Lucid Chances, Goodnight, Great Unknown, Left
Behind

 

PHOTO GALLERY
Photos by Sharon Burgess Photography

 

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LIVE REVIEW: Chaos Divine – Perth, November 28th 2020

Chaos Divine - Legacies Live

 

The year 2020 may be a year of broken dreams for millions, but in reflection it is also a great opportunity for new beginnings. Walking through Perth city on a surprisingly cold and windy November evening, I couldn’t help but reflect on how lucky we are as musicians here in WA. With vibrant colours projecting across building walls and scores of happy people passing by, I could have easily forgotten about the world-wide pandemic currently inflicted upon humanity. As I approached the warm friendly atmosphere at Badlands Bar, I took a deep breath and prepared myself for an evening of world-class live entertainment right here in our isolated little city. Catching up briefly with a few friends in the beer garden, we could hear the very first sound checks rumbling inside the venue and so a few of us decided to make our way inside. I stopped by the bar, ordered a nice glass of St John Brook Shiraz and found a comfortable spot in full view of the stage. Like everyone else, I was eager to finally experience Chaos Divine’s long-awaited ‘Legacies’ album launch.

 

SANZU kicked off the show as the crowd streamed in from the beer garden like a swarm of moths attracted to a searing flame. Drummer Dan Grainger’s relentless double kicks set the pace for the first song “Old Orchard Floor” and I had to smile as a bloke in a red flannelette enthusiastically gripped his beer while moshing on his own like his life depended on it. Heavy guitar distortion boomed through the speakers as vocalist Zac led the charge in a button up shirt which gave these local death metal warriors a sophisticated look that they truly deserve. As the set list progressed, we were treated to a new song called “Learning Slowly” which seemed to match the vibe of the crowd as they stared silently in amazement. Zac has a unique way of connecting with the audience and we could feel the metallic energy flowing through our veins as he announced an all time favourite “Those Who Sleep In The East”. The set list was well thought out as another new song “We’ve Eaten Reason” was dropped on our ears and as the brutality absorbed my entire being, I just had to stop and appreciate how much SANZU have somehow enhanced their groove since I last saw them.

I must say that Jarod and Mikey’s guitar tones, complimented by bassist Fatima’s monstrous thunder rumbles, is the ultimate package deal. As the song descended into a barrage of blast beats, bright rays of light pierced through the smokey stage and projected directly into the crowd like spotlights in search of prey. I love the way Dan stood up between songs and saluted the crowd while ringing out his cymbals too. The audience reacted gleefully as another new track was presented with a trippy ambient introduction which was reinforced by ear piercing distortion and gut wrenching feedback. Zac screamed out “I’LL LET YOU DIE IN COMFORT” which invoked a wave of headbanging and set the scene for the rest of the performance. The song “Union” sounded so brutal and it wrapped up with a huge scream from Zac which seemed to last forever as the crowd raised their horns with respect. My personal favourite “Heavy Over The Home” was the last song to be played and I felt goosebumps down my arms as guitar feedback and haunting war drums resonated through my body. Man, these seasoned campaigners know how to put on a solid show and their signature sound was a fabulous choice to begin the night. SANZU, you are brilliant!

As the dust settled, I headed back to the bar only to be tempted by the infamous and delicious dark and stormy that we all know and love. The choices are always difficult at Badlands Bar but I couldn’t say no to a refreshing Single Fin Summer Ale from Gage Roads after a good mate put me on to them a few months ago. Either way, there is literally something for everyone including cheap $10 cocktails!

Up next were Illyria, Perth’s very own local progressive post black metal band who were ready to add their flavour to the evening’s proceedings. I hurried back towards my spot to the sound of Daniel’s crunching bass tone which echoed through the venue as he made some final adjustments. I had not seen this band live yet and I was very keen to see the creative energy of 3 guitarists (Ilija, Stephen and Andrew) who had already lined up menacingly and were preparing to launch an ear battering assault on the crowd. An easy listening ambience started playing from their first song “Resurgence” which was accompanied by soft high hats and ride strokes by their drummer Matt to introduce the song. The audience slowly drifted into a trance and I also closed my eyes and felt as though I had been transported into a dark long-forgotten Carpathian Forrest. Just as I started feeling hypnotized by these musical snake charmers, we were smashed by a volley of heavy post-hardcore guitar riffs that made my eyes water and before I could realise what happened, the song grinded to a halt and changed back into ambient keys and dreamy atmospherics. It was like a rollercoaster ride and I just didn’t know where to begin as there were so many genres flowing through the mix. My mind was left scrambled after several mouth- watering solos as the guitarists worked as a tight unit to produce the perfect emotional sound.

The set progressed into another track called “Wilderness” and we were again taken on a dark voyage complete with 90’s style blackened vocals, soft ambient interchanges and progressive instrumental sections. I loved the combination of low death metal growls and high-pitched black metal screams as lead vocalist Ilija dominated the stage with his own style of emotional vocals and catchy guitar rhythms.  I remember telling myself “this is definitely something I could listen to” and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. Just shut-up and take my money, guys!

Anyway, by the time the song “Frostbite” was announced, Illyria had the audience right in the palm of their hands. Everyone was clapping along to the start of this beautiful melodic piece which was soft enough for one punter to be heard shouting “SPEED IT UP” which was hilarious. His prayers were quickly answered by these Metal Gods and the rest of the song was as heavy and brutal as anything I had heard that night. After the song (or should I say journey) had ended, the band announced that they were working on a 3rd album over the coming months, so I will be keeping my finger on the pulse for that one! The last track “Final Bastion” was catapulted at the crowd with plenty of headbanging and moshing until the end of the song. I could see why Illyria chose to end their set with this one considering the wide variety of heavy riffs, punchy bass lines and super-fast double kicks. In summary, Illyria create an epic, powerful live show to be enjoyed by anyone and I expect to see big things from them in future. Well done!

What a jaw dropping evening so far! How is it that Perth can hold so much hidden talent? Either way, the night had only just begun and the time had arrived to finally experience the might of CHAOS DIVINE playing their new album to an almost sold-out show. As we hustled back toward the stage, the lighting suddenly went dark and all we could see was the giant Chaos Divine banner glowing proudly amongst the smoke like a phoenix rising from the ashes. You could cut the tension with a knife as the audience protested loudly for our homegrown heavyweight champions to hurry up and make their entrance. Finally, our heroes Dave (vocals), Mike (drums), Tim (bass), Ryan (guitars) and Simon (guitars) appeared on stage to the sound of their intro track “legacies” which filled the air with raw anticipation. There was an unmovable look of concentration across their faces as they set themselves up and prepared for their hard-earned moment of triumph.

After a lengthy applause from the crowd, the band sprung into action at full throttle as Dave’s vocals ripped through the mix with a level of fury and conviction that is dynamic to the Chaos Divine sound. Dave and Tim jumped around on stage while Ryan and Simon produced endless hooky riffs which could only be described as memorable, creative and authentic. Mike’s neck must have been pretty sore the next morning from all the neck breaking windmills after each groovy break down. He never missed a beat though and smashed those skins like a machine. The crowd screamed with satisfaction as Dave announced the next track “Rise and fall” and we all started chanting the chorus with him while that legendary punter in the red flannelette thrashed around with the same energy levels from the start of the night. During each song, we were treated to a mesmerizing visual display which was synchronized perfectly with the music. A huge shout out to the talented efforts of the lighting operator, Justin, for such a brilliant presentation. It was unmistakable just how much preparation was involved including the sound quality itself which sounded like we were listening to the album from the comfort of our homes.

The crowd interacted with the band as Dave sipped on a glass of wine and shared a few war stories about the making of their debut album Avalon back in 2008. The fans were completely warmed up at this point and when the track “Contortion” was dropped, a chaotic mosh pit erupted to the sound of soul-crushing double kicks, diverse vocal lines and chunky guitar shredding. Everyone was either jumping around, chanting the lyrics or just standing back and appreciating the music. The next song “Beacon” followed with a melancholic tune that quickly evolved into thumping drums, more shredding guitars and some very catchy ballad vocals between Dave and Ryan. You could feel so many emotions in these songs and the audience danced, moshed and locked shoulders like brothers in arms. One dude was just standing there in the middle of it all with his eyes closed and arms folded. The onslaught of songs continued with “Only Son” which started out as a warm lead melody and I was surprised that nobody stopped and pulled out their lighters. The guitar work seemed very technical and Mike carried the riffs with tight offbeat drumming while Dave sung his personal story of fatherhood to the crowd. Once again, the audience roared with applause and Dave pumped them up even more with the introduction of another song called “Behind the Seal” which went off like a nuclear blast. Punters were throwing themselves around everywhere and many more were punching the air and screaming the lyrics. Dave flipped the bird at the roof and another round of applause filled the room. As usual, the lighting was perfectly planned in between songs as Mike played a few drum rolls amongst the rising blanket of smoke and guitar feedback.

Much to our disappointment, the band announced their last song “Colours of War” and it was played to sheer perfection with Dave letting out another blood curling roar to announce the end of what was clearly the winning ticket for the night. After thanking their fans and supporters from the bottom of their hearts, the boys waved to everyone and slowly walked off the stage. However, the punters had discovered their second wind and started chanting loudly for an encore. After letting us stew for a few minutes, the demands of the crowd were met and we all shouted with delight as the lads reappeared with big smiles across their faces and walked back on stage to complete their mission. Beginning with the track “Instincts”, this world class outfit sent the audience into a riot, switching from melodic to heavy distortion with blast beats and crispy metal vocals in between. Several more mosh pits erupted as a crowd surfer jumped amongst the chaos and floated above the crowd in an ocean of flesh, sweat and metal. Two more songs “Unspoken” and “One Door” were fed to the hungry masses and we lapped up every milli-second. After a trailblazing performance of crowd-pleasing riffage, their set columnated with a standing ovation and the band spent their last moments shaking hands and thanking everybody who had supported them over the years.

After 10 years and 4 fantastic albums, Chaos Divine is still fresh and ready to take on the world with their brand of progressive melodic metal. Thankyou so much for the brilliant night and killer tunes! See you at the next gig!

 

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LIVE REVIEW: Command A Panda EP Launch – Perth, November 13th 2020

Command A Panda - Perth November 13th 2020 | Photo Credit: Karen Lowe

 

The Giant Panda lives in a few mountain ranges in central China, whereas the Command A Panda lives in the Northern Suburbs of Perth, Australia. Another differentiation is seen within activity, as the Giant Panda tends to limit its social interactions and avoids steeply, sloping terrain to limit its energy expenditures. The Command A Panda can be seen bouncing around its natural habitat on stage and putting on spectaculars such as EP Launches at Amplifier Bar.

 

Even with the monsoon conditions that the skies had thrown at Perth, the venue filled quickly giving Mirrors At The Arcade (MATA) a welcomed crowd to start off the evening.  As Ed Leis beckoned everyone to come closer (Perth can be a little shy) the set list was crammed with an assortment of progressive rock and indie filled reggae, with influences as diverse as Arctic Monkeys, The Dear Hunter, Panic At The Disco, Psychedelic Porn crumpets and My Chemical romance you can see how the varied stylings of their idols have had a lasting effect on their approach to writing music.

‘Fueled by Jealousy’ was a favourite of mine, it is upbeat and filled with driving riffs, a catchy hook and Eds vocals and theatrical performances are a hit with the crowd.

Their structuring and ability to write in a progressive style is a breath of fresh air on stages in Perth and testament to the band’s foundation in musical education.  Keir Brown on bass floats effortlessly between complex jazz riffs and heavy rock basslines, locking in tightly with Bill O’Connor on drums they are an extremely tight rhythm section within a diverse band which spans a variety of genres.  From indie rock to reggae and jazz fusion there’s something for everyone within MATA’s repertoire.

I particularly loved the artistic approach of ‘Looks Like Trouble’ as Ed spoke about the song and collapsed into a crazed and eerie laugh, it was a perfect way to set up a track that hit home and had the crowd yelling for more.  Again, its nuggets like this within performances that set bands aside and it worked for MATA, they know they have the ability to play, Ed can work any crowd and have them in the palm of his hand.

Coming to the end of their set with ‘Wrath’ a heavy bass driven track oozed the stylings of Geezer Butler and Black Sabbath, the audience lapped it up, setting them up for the bands to follow.

Their musical style works, and looking back on the evening the fusion fit so well alongside the other bands.  The lads are still very early on in their career and I can’t wait to see what songwriting process and stage presence will bring for them in 2021 and onwards, they are certainly a band to watch.

Set List: Dance with the enemy, Up in the air, Pockets full of sand, Fuelled by jealousy, Looks like trouble, Money hungry weasel, Death to thy neighbour, Wrath, Burn the box

 

Mirrors At The Arcade - Perth November 13th 2020 | Photo Credit: Karen LoweBlindspot - Perth November 13th 2020 | Photo Credit: Karen Lowe

 

Up next was a band who have played on stage with some of the greats in the world of Punk, I’ve met these guys in Superfreak Rehearsal Studios before and was due to play the same FNA Festival bill as them, but have never gotten around to seeing them, man do I regret that!  I have nothing to say to the amount of people who gave me shit when I said how much I loved their performance and that I hadn’t seen them before, yes Hatter you’re one of those!  Now I’m on the ‘Blindspot with one T’ bandwagon, if you’ve not seen them yet, why? Go and watch them, you won’t be disappointed!!! Blindspot are a hard-hitting punk band who can bloody play whilst not taking themselves too seriously, their on-stage chemistry is second to none and their shows are banter filled and energetic with songs that have more hooks than a tackle shop.

Opening with one of their earlier tracks ‘Breakfast Beers’ from the ‘Self-Titled’ EP, the crowd got into it quickly, everyone present (bar me, I’ll learn quickly) knew all the words and everyone was up the front jumping around.  The set list flowed without issue, whilst some of the tracks hit on harder issues of break ups, most of this set list was light hearted with themes of going out drinking, playing in a band and generally having fun.   Pulling tracks ‘Gaslit Manthem’ ‘All Fall Down’ and ‘The Right Swipe’ from their latest album ‘Final Allure’ and old faithful tracks ‘Grabusabeer’ and ‘You’re So Phoney’ from the ‘You’re So Phoney EP’, Blindspot shown why they are a headline grabbing band and have stood the test of time in the destructive world of music.  A delight for the long-standing fans was an even newer track ‘Where’s Wally’, the lads are currently recording with Wail Records, so here’s to a new release very soon.

With an upbeat version of ‘Fight For Your Right’ by Beastie Boys the crowd resurged in energy levels, sitting perfectly for a set finish with a song I didn’t know that I needed to know….’Ska Wars’! Any band who sing about Chewbacca and Jabba The Hutt has my vote!

Your jokes are awful but in the middle of a show like that they actually work.

Set List: Breakfast Beers, Gaslit Manthem, Grabusabeer (Cows), The Right Swipe, All Fall Down, Where’s Wally, Youre So Phoney, Fight For Your Right (Beastie Boys Cover), Ska Wars

What can I say about Amberdown, that I haven’t already said? Their music is phenomenal, it’s hard hitting, it’s got balls but come on, what the fuck Jerry! You know this was going to be spoken about, at some point in time, between the last show and this, a wormhole opened up, swallowed the mighty kiwi lumberjack bass lord that we all know and swapped it with their beardless version with a bowl haircut!! Man, I love you, we all do and huge props to you for going the whole way with the ‘how I looked as a kid’ party, but please bring us back the bearded wonder that we know.

So, now that is cleared up, Dan, Dan The Bicep Man pumped up his fresh Reebok Pumps (nice) and AD smashed into an old faithful, ‘Say You Will’, thankfully ‘alternate world’ Jerry can play the bass just as well as our bearded wonder, his tight basslines timed perfectly with Marc Lennon’s drums, this is one of the tightest rhythm sections I’ve seen.  Marc has a style that is so unique, he’s mesmerizing to watch live and he certainly shines during the new songs that AD have been polishing during recording with Jay Huxtable at Oracle Sound.

This was the most refined that I have heard the new album songs, their comfort with the newer tracks shown when they added in ‘Ever Need’, a song that had been only written that week.  The song is another hard hitter that you would expect from a band that have supported some of Rocks Legends on the largest stages we have.  Whilst the song was a little rawer than the others, it was still a memorable addition to their set, and I think this may have surpassed ‘Belmont Ave’ as my new favourite.  Glatz’s guitar work and stage presence is always up with the best, he’s solid and brings an added confidence and grounding to a band that needs no write up nor review to introduce them, their music does that all on its own.

I look forward to the release of ‘Shattered And Bagged’, in their follow up to ‘Four Years’, with the music we have heard live up to now, it is looking to be one hell of an album.  There is also a sneaky rumour that we may be expecting something very, very soon in the form of a single from the AD Camp.  Keep your eyes and ears on their socials!

Set List:- Say You Will, Spare Me The Lies, Belmont Ave, Do It Again, Willow, Ever Need, Bullet, Lifeless, Hole In The Flaw

 

Amberdown - Perth November 13th 2020 | Photo Credit: Karen Lowe

 

And now, the moment we have all been waiting for, the reason we all ventured out of our warm cosy houses in weather akin to my native Manchester, the EP that has been long in the making, the one and only Command A Panda EP launch.  With the merch table swarming with fans from the opening of the doors, as everyone was eager for the coveted Limited-Edition EP shirt, the love for the Pandas was apparent, I love the idea of the EP Tee, so much we bought a couple.  Gentle reminder to buy band merch, it puts bamboo in Panda’s bellies and new tracks on future albums.

Cranking in with one of the new tracks, ‘Medicine’ had Panda heads flying across the crowd, people jumping up and down and Adam Moore smiling and crashing away behind the kit, spoiler alert, he didn’t stop smiling throughout the set.  I’m not sure how he manages to smile through some of those heavier hits but it goes to show you don’t need that angry drummer face to be a hard hitter.

‘Never Slept So Well’ kicked in with its funky guitar riff, showing this band aren’t here to fuck spiders.  This is the only song on the EP that was cowritten with former drummer and founder Tim Hosken, whilst this is the case, Adam has truly made this song his own, with his flair and pizazz. Having the song so early in the set showcased the full sound they carry, listening to the EP you would think they are easily a three or four piece band, but Command A Panda do this live on stage on their own, no samples, just the two of them and it does not sound empty.  There are many mutterings which are becoming tiring, stating the boys need a bassist, well I’m a bassist and I don’t think they do.    Between the guitar work that Matt carries out and the extremely proficient work of Adam on drums, whom is one of most technical drummers here in Perth, there isn’t a loss of any component.  I think people need to move away from what they see as a band being traditional in its members, this is 2020 and having seen many successful, two piece international bands across the last twenty years, it’s about time Command A Panda were given the same respect to their choice of band set up.

The set list was bolstered with older classics such as ‘One And Only Love’, ‘You Aint Coming Back’ and ‘Circles’, whilst this is great for nostalgia and gets the crows pumping, it’s a prompt to look at the progression of the songwriting within the team on the new EP.

‘Thanks For Coming (Can You Leave)’ is a fast paced rock ditty which is new to their sets, it’s fun, its catchy, its Command A Panda to the core.  No current Panda set would be complete without their funked up reggae-punk version of TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’, I remember being sat in 459 Bar the night they pulled this out of the bag, it’s a cracker and pays homage to music being about freedom and having fun whilst entertaining those who have come to see you.

The addition to this set that I can’t get out of my head was the blinder of a track in ‘Wind Howls Like Hell In July’.  There is no where for Matt’s vocals to hide on this song, its brutally raw, emotional and almost vulnerable.  It’s a direction of songwriting I haven’t seen with the Panda’s before, I hope this is the momentum of the ‘Hort-Moore’ writing collaboration for the next album.  Whilst Matt always wears his heart on his sleeve during performances, his angst during their punkier songs has never been shy but there was a new level of grit and survival in his vocal approach for this song, it brought an intimacy within the tone and a gentle reminder that these boys aren’t just here to party, they have cut their own pathway within songwriting.   A heavy riff based fusion of guitar and solid drums allow a dramatic effect for lyrics like ‘….I wear the blood upon my shirt, I know I’ve been somewhere but who did I hurt?’ and ‘….it’s me who chose to be the goddam cat and the mouse, it’s me that’s letting me down, it’s me who chose to be alone in this goddam house.’

As the applause went up for the vocals ringing through the PA a familiar guitar riff fired up, it’s one that every Panda fan knows, this may be a newbie to the digital world for the EP but live, ‘Bring It’ is an old favourite. There’s a reason the fans love it, it’s a hard, hook filled, riff driven rock number.  Adams drumming and smiling shines through this song when played live, and his harmonies are second to none.

You can’t finish a Panda set without the beloved ‘No-Ones Fuckin Steering’, complete with crowd participation, this was indeed a very bouncy audience with many screams and shouts of #FYD and one gent even shouting through the quiet of a tuning moment that Matt was a sexy beast.

Their Self Titled EP was recorded, mixed and mastered at Oracle Studios by Jay Huxtable, the levels on the EP are seamless and allow for a listener to soak up every component of the piece.  This is quite apparent in ‘Wind Howls Like Hell In July’, I highly recommend putting a set of head phones on and losing yourself in this track, as it takes you on an emotional journey.

 

Command A Panda - Perth November 13th 2020 | Photo Credit: Karen Lowe

 

Command A Panda are not just the two that you see on stage, there is a third Panda who tirelessly worked all evening, chatting to everyone, making sure everyone had everything they needed and they were having a good time.  Panda 3 is the delightful Lucy Thomas, I just wanted to throw a hell yeah out to a pivotal part of the CAP crew who works behind the scenes to make a lot of this possible.

In closing, the lads from Command A Panda are not only two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, who are constantly trying to create a happier and supportive community within Perth, they are also solid musicians with a bright future ahead in music.  They have shown in this last songwriting period that they can bring new levels of penmanship to their lyrical and musical content, which has a funky rock feel with a little vulnerability and pizazz.  There only one other thing I want to say, please give us an encore next time! The crowd wanted it and I know you have the material, be indulgent with your set time, it is your headline show.

Thanks to Scott Crighton for the sound at Amplifier Bar as always, the bar staff for their service and again to Command A Panda, thanks for a great evening.

Set List: Medicine, Never Slept So Well, One And Only Love, You Aint Comin Back, Thanks For Coming, Shoes, No Scrubs, Wind Howls Like Hell, Circles, Bring It, No Ones Fuckin Steering

 

PHOTO GALLERY
Photos by Karen Lowe

 

 

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LIVE REVIEW: Eruption and Hair Metal Heaven – Perth, November 20th 2020

Eruption - November 20th 2020 Perth

 

If I’m honest I’m still mourning the international live scene, not having seen a band on stage since March has been rather more traumatic than Imagined, and cancelling a trip to hit the Festivals in the US and UK this year was gutting. But not only is there a thriving local live scene here in Perth it really is world class. And whilst the crew at The Rockpit has been covering some stunning original music it took this highly touted double bill to get me out on the tiles and I’m so glad I did.

 

Tonight is a real night of firsts though never have ventured to the Stirling Arms before or seen either Eruption or Hair Metal Heaven. The good news is that the room itself is great, nice and big with a great sound – well worth checking out. The better news is that both of these bands are top class and on fine form.

Sal from Hair Metal Heaven tells me he has a sore throat after the show, not that you’d notice as they belt out late 80’s classics like it’s back in the day and the Sunset Strip was still burning brightly. Not that it starts out well though, opening as they do with my least favourite song of the era – Poison’s ‘Unskinny Bop.’ It’s a song as beautifully executed as the wigs and stage attire and even with a sore throat Sal does a rather fine rendition of Brett Michaels. And as the hits keep coming – next up is Van Halen’s ‘Jump’, followed by the ever young ‘Cherry Pie’ by Warrant, the remarkable thing for me is not only do the band nail it but Sal actually nails the character in a lot of the vocals. I must admit though he does do a better Sammy Hagar  (Why Can’t This Be Love) than Dave Lee Roth, but then again Roth was more of a frontman than a singer wasn’t he!

Song selection tonight was pretty much spot on covering all the bases with tracks from Whitesnake, Def Leppard,  Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, and of course The Gunners – the other cover band Sal fronts – to end with Sweet Child O’ Mine. The only misstep for me is ‘Rebel Yell’ by Billy Idol who I never really saw as part of the scene despite the size of Steve Stevens’ hair!

Honestly though these guys are seriously good and I’d recommend them to anyone. By the end of the set I’d more than had my money’s worth and the main band were still to come.

 

Hair Metal Heaven - November 20th 2020 Perth

 

Whoever said that old guys can’t Rock has obviously never heard of Perth’s Eruption – a group of vintage musicians with some serious chops and a very tasty song selection. On the basis of tonight’s show I’d put these guys up against anyone doing this kind of thing.

If I’m really honest they actually had me just by opening up with Tesla’s ‘Coming At You Live’ – how often do you get a band covering the mighty Tesla! It was that good I was almost tempted to message Jeff!

So with their flash gum-chewing guitarist, kid keyboardist, steampunk bassist, gold lamé jacket sporting singer and solid as a rock drummer Eruption like HMH, had me from the off, hitting their stride with a wonderful cover of ‘Creatures of the Night’ by Kiss.

It’s an interesting mix of songs and the show is made all the more interesting by their poor bassist suffering from vertigo and crashing into the drums a few times (jeez mate we hope you’re OK) but still playing on like a legend. Even though they might be a little older than the Sunset Strip openers the songs are just as good and I love the fact that the covers aren’t obvious – these are the songs for real lovers of the Hard Rock genre.

The setlist runs great too: I mean ‘Wicked Sensation’ by Lynch Mob in it’s 30th Anniversary year! Wow! But that’s followed up by a classy rendition of Whitesnake’s ‘Fool For Your Loving’ and a belting cover of Van Hagar’s ‘Right Now’. It’s magic. Add to that a bit of Extreme, a dash of Skid Row and some out of left-field like Iron Maiden’s ‘Can I Play With Madness’ and you have a real party going on!

Just so that they don’t get too big headed though I must admit I love my Alice Cooper and my only disappointment tonight is that with 50 years of music behind him Eruption choose to play ‘Feed My Frankenstein’ from his dodgiest 80’s release.

Things end in real style though with a Van Halen trifecta of You Really Got Me’; ‘Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love’ and ‘Panama’ which happen to be three of my very favourite Van Halen songs (the first of course being a cover itself leaving you with the wonderful conundrum of a cover band covering a cover by the band they’re covering).And all that comes after a pretty much note perfect ‘Eruption’ – Eddie’s famous solo.

If you love your Hard Rock you won’t have a better night than this in Perth. I’ve seen hundreds of cover bands over the years and these two are right up there with the very best. More please!

 

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LIVE REVIEW: We Will Rock You Review – Perth, November 18th 2020

We Will Rock You - Perth 2020 | Photo Credit: Amanda Humphreys Photography
Photo Credit: Amanda Humphreys Photography

 

We Will Rock You, brings the legendary music of Queen to the theatrical stage whilst being entwined with the comedic genius of Ben Elton (The Young Ones, Blackadder). In its eighteenth year of production, the script has been kept relevant to the pitfalls of today’s society whilst not losing the magic of its original narrative.

In 1991 we lost one of the most, if not the greatest vocalists and charismatic wonders of Rock N Roll.  Freddie Mercury was a powerhouse and one of the most flamboyant showmen to have ever graced the stage, his monstrous vocals and ability to command a stage are second to none.  I was intrigued if not a little nervous to see how the cast would take on their roles and how comfortably they would sit into some of the toughest musical ensembles within the world of Rock, I have to say I was not disappointed.  This was one of the greatest productions I have seen and I do not say that lightly, having lived in Manchester, England for thirty years I have seen a variety of theatrical performances at The Manchester Opera House and Manchester Palace Theatre, this production right here in Perth, Australia by an all Western Australian cast was one of the most heartfelt, emotional and well executed that I have had the pleasure to see.

We Will Rock You is set in a dystopian point in the future where conformity is the only acceptable answer, everyone must wear the same clothing, think and act the same, and music is forbidden to the point that ‘Rock N Roll’ is a phrase unknown to the masses.  This future atrocious land called iPlanet, is run by the Dictator CEO of ‘Globalsoft’, she is Killer Queen (Paula Parore), a self-enhanced half human-half pixelated creation of wonder, well, in her eyes!  She strives with her Commander, Khashoggi (Dean Misdale) to wipe out all know traces of individuality and freedom.  A handful of rebels known as The Bohemians, led by Buddy (Jamie Mercanti) and The Rebel Leader (Sooz Bennett) are the only hope to let Rock regain its rightful place and allow the liberty of choice to wear leather jackets, black jeans and plaid flannel in a world of GagaGirls and BoyZone clones.  Two outcasts wake from their conformity, a Dreamer called Galileo Figaro (Blake Williams) and Scaramouche (Holly Denton), they break free from the restraints of conformism and trail the wastelands finding The Bohemians to set up a narrative that amasses three hours of musical comedy.

As we open to a timeline of what has happened in prior years, we hit an all too familiar moment of ‘2020 Live Shows Cancelled’ a stark reminder that we are in the midst of an unsettling widespread  problem (I’m not going to use the C word as I want to keep this light hearted and keep our spirits up). Then as the next screen is illuminated, a huge cheer erupts, it reads ‘2022 – McGowan voted Prime Minister of Westralia’, the love for him is clearly strong in the Theatre, it’s understandable as this is currently one of, if not the only Theatre Production that is on in the world.

We are quickly drawn amongst great applause from the audience to Buddy Holly & The Crickets (Jamie Mercanti) our Narrator who brings us up to speed with the days of past and the current scenario, his accent flawlessly honing that south cockney feel that echoes Ben Elton and the productions homely beginnings.  ‘Radio Gaga’ is fired onto the stage by The Gaga Kids displaying the imagery and direction of Una Genuino (Choreographer) and Joe Louis Robinson (Musical Director), with dancers and vocalists synchronized in a showcase of what was to follow.

As the two outcasts meet it is clear to see why Blake Williams has played the role of Galileo for the last three years, his vocal range and strength are a clear compliment to his acting abilities, both of which are continued throughout the show.  A clear cut favourite with the crowd especially during the Bright Star scene where he takes on Freddie’s well known ‘Ayyyy-Oh’, his finale lengthy note hold was perfect in tone and attack.  Holly Denton in the role of Scaramouche for her third year, is unwavering in her execution of her character.  Playing a sarcastic and feisty lady who is at times a little vulnerable, commanded the stage like a seasoned professional, holding back on a few of the softer songs, she made no apologies for her powerful delivery of ‘Hammer To Fall’, a firm favourite of mine in this set.

As we entered the nightmare headquarters of ‘Globalsoft’, the harmonies of The Yuppies effortlessly began one of Queen’s biggest hits ‘Killer Queen’ to the backing of the house band lead by Joe Louis Robinson on keys.  Following the chorus was the spectacular that I had been waiting for, Killer Queen portrayed by Paula Parore, I was not let down.  To put it bluntly, Paula has a set of pipes on her, the grit and diaphragm control within her is a testament to her time within the industry from the heavier style of ‘Killer Queen’ to the softer higher elements of ‘Play The Game’, she easily made the songs her own.  She brought a flair and sensuality to a pixelated character that enabled the audience to relate and embrace.

A notable element to the show was chemistry amongst the cast members both during songs and the acting, this was quite apparent between Killer Queen and KhashoggiKhashoggi played by Dean Misdale was a notable character change for him, having played Killer Queen in the last two years of WWRY, he brought a flavoured element to Khashoggi giving the character a depth and sincerity that I hadn’t seen in prior versions.

Enter the most comedic duo of the show Britney Spears and Ozzy Osbourne, that’s a sentence I never thought I would type out! Clay Darius brought home the role of Brit and man was he hilarious, his natural Kiwi style, flair and humour brought this character to life but not one to sit back and rest on a strong comedic performance he belted out ‘I Want It All’.  His gusto and attack a subtle reminder that Clay can back his acting up with his powerful vocal ability.

As Parore had stepped up to the role of Killer Queen for this show it gave her understudy Lisa Woodbrook chance to shine in the position of Oz, she did not shy away from her duties.  Her rendition of ‘No-One But You (Only The Good Die Young)’ was a flawless and emotional transcendent journey, it certainly left me with a tear or two. I’m not crying, you are!

The narration on WWRY is delivered by the main cast for the most part but two characters are pivotal to the understanding of the story, those are brought by Buddy and the Rebel Leader.  The Rebel Leader was taken on by Sooz Bennett, the wee lass behind the bar at The Hard Rock Café, the leader of The BohemiansBennett is a firecracker on stage bringing in a serious but humorous Scottish element to the rebel, her commanding presence and accent hammering home the reminder that we as a society need to fight for our right to rock and have Freedom!!!!! And yes, she did shout Freedom in that same ‘Mel Gibson’/‘William Wallace’, ‘Braveheart’ moment that had the audience cheering for Rock.  Bennett and Mercanti had a great on-stage chemistry throughout the scenes and dance numbers, it gave the characters more depth and relatability to two roles which transition and hold many scenes together.

Amongst the crew were notable favourites with the crowd, Mad-D (Ash Schofield), Katy P (Andrew Milner) and Ian Mulholland (Headmaster, Bohemian) as the Quartet beginning ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. The comedic value throughout was interspersed with one line shout outs to the greats in Rock N Roll and references to various pop culture moments.

I grew up listening to Queen, they were one of my Dad’s favourite bands so it was always on in the house, from the Albums on Vinyl to the live shows on the VI-Deo Ta-pes (VHS), so I like every other Queen fan have my favourite songs, my all-time favourite is ‘Seven Seas of Rhye’. I’ve seen this song attempted unsuccessfully many times over the years, its an intricate masterpiece.  It needs to be attacked with guts and confidence whilst giving it the respect its due, Dean Misdale took Khashoggi to a new level with his delivery and gave the song the justice it deserves.  The band executed it perfectly without issue or any aspect of over play. Hats off to you all for this, this is one Queen fan who is very impressed and also a new Dean Misdale fan.

Throughout I felt the house band and sound design (Jordan Gibbs) complimented the levels of the vocals, the tight rhythm section of Manoli Vouyoucalos (Bass) and Alexander Barker (Drums) who took on the parts of Roger Taylor and John Deacon who were arguably the greatest rhythm section we have had the pleasure to grace our stages in rock.  Layered atop this Shayne Savic and Jarrad Van Dort took on the roles of Brian May on guitar, hitting all those solos and breakdowns that we have headbanged to for many years (thanks Wayne’s World)Simon Gray complimented Joe Louis Robinson on keys to finalise that ‘Freddie’ feel that we know so well.

The stage design (Trevor Patient) fit seamlessly with the costume design (Katrina Patient, Leah Andrews) and visual effects (Rory Henderson) in a show that is spanning its eighteenth year, this production crew have maintained a stage show that is true to its original whilst remaining relevant to our current times.  This is a testament to Director/Producer, Trevor Patient and Producer/Artistic Director, Katrina Patient and their effortless work to bring this masterpiece to The Crown Theatre.

I would like to add in that this was one of the only nights on the tour where every member of the cast was from Western Australia, which in itself shows the homegrown talent that we have here.

In closing, I would like to say a massive thank you to all the cast and crew of We Will Rock You.  You brought the vision of Ben Elton to life and in doing so bestowed Perth, Australia with an extravaganza that will not be forgotten.

What a memory to have, people coming together in great times of difficulty to pay homage to Rock N Roll and the formidable presence that Freddie Mercury was to the world.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an overwhelming urge to go and watch Flash Gordon and Highlander.

 

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