Back in 2016, dropping like an atom bomb from the sky and with not even the slightest bit of pre-warning, Sydney Prog rockers Cog announced their triumphant return on social media – a short tour to test out the waters in the major eastern capital cities. Within the hour all three cities had sold out and second shows were announced. Before the sun went down that day those second shows were also sold out. If Cog had any lingering doubts that they’d been forgotten and were no longer relevant, their legion of fans reminded them with the same ferocious intensity the band was known for of just how missed they had been. Cog was back and god damn did it feel good!
Fast forward to 2019 and the band has gone from strength to strength, having completed a further two tours, and now sit on the cusp of their biggest tour to date. The Drawn Together Tour will see the band hit all the major capital cities in Australia with Osaka Punch and The Omnific, before making their first ever venture over to the UK for a string of shows.
Townsville was lucky enough to get a look in just before the tour with a mini-festival line up, and if this was anything to go by audiences are once again in for a treat.
The first band to hit the stage was Like Thieves, who for me were the biggest surprise packets of the night. At the risk of upsetting The Butterfly Effect fans around the country TBE were always a solid live band with some great tunes, but never a band high on my radar. I went into Like Thieves set with a similar expectation and man did they prove me wrong. Playing with the precision of a band who you’d expect to have far more years under their belt than they do, the Like Thieves boys ripped through a set mixed with the biggest banger’s from their two EP’S before closing the set with their crushing new single, ‘Never See It Coming’. Tight, melodic, heavy and progressive, the band didn’t put a foot wrong with their nine-song set and Clint Boje has honestly never sounded better. They won’t be on the upcoming tour so if you get a chance to see them at their own show I can not recommend them enough.
Sandwiched in between some of Aussie’s finest prog royalty was the new brigade of the evening. Filled with confidence after their recent Unify Gathering show, the Hellions boys from Sydney sure do know how to party. Mixing hardcore with some groove based hooks the band sounds like they have been evolving and trying to work out just what their sound is. The result is some infectious choruses and solid hooks that sure can get a crowd moving. Delving into their earlier catalogue which leans more into a hardcore sound, the band seamlessly mixed that era with their current direction to great effect. The newer sound was no more apparent than their biggest hit ‘Smile’ which shows the lads know how to write a catchy tune and points to a band who is only going to evolve and grow stronger with each future album.
Cog have had comparisons with Tool throughout their career and while it’s generally in reference to their progressive elements, I liken them to Tool for a totally different reason which has nothing to do with their sound. Nobody I’ve ever met just ‘likes’ Cog. It’s impossible to just like Cog. You either sit on the side of the fence that thinks they are ok but don’t understand what all the fuss is about, or you sit on the other side of the fence that worships Cog. Funnily enough, this side of the fence usually grows in numbers every time someone witnesses them live. If you are lucky enough to catch the band in full force in a live setting, look around, you will see the people I am talking about – completely lost in the moment singing every single word from the bottom of their heart and happy to share a moment with anyone on the same page. Cog made an impact on the Australian scene I’ve never seen in any other band. Sure other bands have had bigger followings and more commercial success, but I am yet to see a band that makes such an impact on peoples lives, this reporter obviously being one of them.
If you intend on seeing the band on this tour and wish to keep their set list a surprise, I’d suggest looking away now given the bands history of keeping the same set throughout a tour. The only variation I would imagine the rest of the country may see will possibly be the premiere of their as yet unreleased new song ‘Drawn Together’.
Opening the set with one of their staples over the years the eerie unmistakable sound of Doors (now and then my life feels like it’s going nowhere) blasts from the PA as the band takes the stage. The ten-minute epic instantly grabs the crowd and has them singing along every word verbatim. The band played the entire set without delving into their still powerful Just Visiting EP’s, instead opting for a perfect balance of The New Normal & Sharing Space. Bang in the middle of the set in a one-two approach, new singles ‘Altered States’ and ‘The Middle’ are both played and seamlessly flow into the set as if they are old classics. ‘The Middle’ especially goes down well with the crowd with its catchy as all hell groove and sing along chorus. I swear Flynn Gower is the only singer in the world that can get away with lyrics such as “sipping lemsip tea” and “getting stung like a bit of Tabasco” and make it actually work.
Following a couple of the newer tunes, Flynn asks the crowd if it’s ok to play a few songs off The New Normal. In a perfect trifecta, the band rips through ‘Run’, ‘The Spine’, and ‘My Enemy’, all songs sounding as fresh and powerful today as they did when released 14 years ago. Closing their set with the always popular ‘Birds Of Feather’, Cog once again owned the crowd and walked off the stage to thunderous applause. As customary with the band, no encore is given nor expected by anyone who has seen them before.
In a world full of predictable encores, it’s always refreshing to see a band give their all, thank the crowd and leave the stage.
All in all an absolutely killer night of music and here’s hoping FNQ doesn’t have to wait too long to see any of these bands again.