Tag: live review

Live Review: Cancer Bats @ Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle - October 11, 2019

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I was lucky enough to witness Canada’s Cancer Bats in action back sometime around 2013 and was struck by the band’s intensity and obvious enjoyment with what they were doing. That was a Sidewave at Sydney’s Hi-Fi Bar supporting Bullet for My Valentine – which in this reviewer’s mind was a bit of an odd pairing, but whatever…

Seeing the band tonight in the Cambridge Hotel‘s diminutive pressure-cooker of a front room seemed to amplify the intensity of the band’s performance. With no photo pit, I was shooting from the mosh – experiencing the effect they were having on the audience first hand. The band tore up the stage with a set list bursting with tracks from just about their entire back catalogue, with highlights including ‘Sorceress’ and ‘Hail Destroyer’ from the album of the same name and ‘Gatekeeper’ and ‘Space and Time’ from latest album ‘The Spark That Moves’.

As a band not known for their five-minute-plus prog epics, they move through their 15-song set list rapid fire, broken up with witty banter from frontman Liam Cormier, including some classic Aussie piss-taking that the crowd laps up, despite being the brunt of the jokes. All in all, a great way to spend a rainy night in Newcastle.

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Karnivool @ The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle - May 30, 2019
This reviewer hadn’t had the pleasure of seeing the mighty Karnivool live since 2012 and 2013 on the Asymmetry tour. Both of those gigs were held at Sydney’s Metro and the Big Top respectively – much larger venues than Newcastle’s Cambridge Hotel.

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What I would witness tonight would only reinforce would only reinforce an already firmly held belief that the best shows take place in intimate venues. Although, thanks to the Cambridge posting incorrect set times online once again, I’m sure there would have been a few nonplussed punters who either missed opening act Southeast Desert Metal altogether or only caught the last few minutes of their tight, albeit reserved performance (posted start time was 9pm, but the band started at around 8.30 and was finished at 9.15pm). While the band were pretty static on stage, their driving, propulsive mix of hard rock and classic metal sees the half-full room enthusiastic and supportive.

After about 40mins of set up time, Western Australia’s Karnivool took to the stage in what was to be a more pared back production – more visceral perhaps – than what I’d previously seen the band offer. Most importantly however, is the fact that the band was no less powerful for it. In fact, being up so close, with only the Cambo’s small security pit between Ian Kenny’s Zen-like stage moves and the sweaty sold-out Newcastle crowd, you could argue that the limited lighting and production only added to the intensity.

Tonight’s set list covers the spectrum of the band’s output thus far, including what I think were a few new or unreleased tracks like ‘Animation’, ‘Reanimation’ and ‘All It Takes’. Crowd response to them is good, but it’s obviously the known and loved tracks from the band’s three albums that get the most response.

Karnivool are a national treasure. They’re often cited as influences and hit ‘fave band’ lists from notable musos around the world and for good reason: their recorded output is impossible to fault and their live performance – as witnessed here tonight at the Cambridge – is just as strong. With a solid, clear mix, all the guys’ parts are perfectly audible, which is a feat unto itself with the beautiful subtlety that flows beneath all of Karnivool’s music. Add to that the strong, engaging stage presence and you’ve got the ingredients for a perfect night of intense, involving and damned catchy modern progressive metal.

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Live Review: Parkway Drive + Killswitch Engage @ NEX Newcastle - October 27, 2018

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First a word of advice: It can really pay to check the opening times for a gig on more than one website! Thanks to an erroneous door time listing on one ticket website, this humbled reviewer ended up missing the brutal Thy Art is Murder.

Thankfully I didn’t miss the mighty Killswitch Engage, who tonight were playing the role of main support. For some, that might seem like an odd place for a renowned international act. However, when you look out across the sold out room at NEX in Newcastle (the old Worker’s Club), it seems like a pretty shrewd move and one that will no doubt win the Massachusetts band plenty of new fans off the back of a typically super strong performance.

Formed in 1999, the band are veterans of the metalcore scene they helped create and it isn’t until you watch their full set that you remember just how many big songs they’ve had. Singer Jesse Leach is a better live singer today than he was in the band’s early days and handles the material of former singer Howard Jones with ease – which is no mean feat.

The entire group bounce around the large NEX stage with the hunger of a band still in their twenties and their tight set and road-worn professionalism will see them return Stateside with some extra record sales and downloads, for sure.

After a short break, Parkway Drive makes one hell of an entrance thanks to six concussion bombs and all the smoke machine action you would ask for. It’s just a taste of what’s to come for the capacity crowd here tonight, with the band bringing over $5000 worth of pyro, according to the pyrotechnician that ushered us off to stage left before those aforementioned explosions took place.

Indeed, Parkway could never be accused of not putting on one hell of a show. I’m pretty sure all the stage hire places in town would have been drained of their lighting rigs by looking at the stage setup here tonight. Thankfully, the musicianship lived up to the theatrics.

While I admit that I’m not the biggest fan of the band, I still found the whole experience too far removed from how I remember them when I last reviewed a Parkway gig in 2010. It felt like a different band to me. Despite Winston’s filthy screaming, newer material is more accessible (not a bad thing on its own), the band were all clad politely in matching black and it all seemed a little staid.

Now, I understand that a band needs to grow and evolve. These dudes aren’t the kids that took Australian (and indeed international) stages by storm over a decade ago. But that sense of danger and aggression wasn’t there. It sure as hell was in the crowd. In fact, the performance came to an abrupt halt after the fourth song in their set (‘Vice’) when an audience member was injured to the point of being stretchered out of the venue by paramedics.

After a 20 minute breather, the band launched into ‘Dedicated’ and the crowd went suitably apeshit. Realistically, if there are any grumblings in the Parkway fanbase over the group becoming the Aussie equivalent of Bring Me the Horizon or the ‘Nickelback of Deathcore’, you wouldn’t know it here tonight. It’s admittedly a tight performance, but one that felt a lot more one dimensional, with the exception of Winston himself, who clearly gave the show every ounce of strength he had.

Accuse me of resisting progress, call me stuck in the mud. I don’t mind. I just like my metal a little more dangerous. 10 points for being, by far, the biggest metal act in Australia right now, though. There isn’t another band on this continent hauling such a large production around – and you have to respect that!

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