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COG, YOMI SHIP, KODIAK EMPIRE: Princess Theatre, Brisbane 08/03/24

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Words by Andy Parkinson

Pix by Kaotic Images

Cog has a long proud history of providing support slots to bands with a solid work ethic and talent to burn. Throughout their career, they have had support acts such as young upstarts Karnivool, Dead Letter Circus and Mammal or more recently Redhook. You know when you are walking into a Cog gig that the opening acts are going to be well worth your attendance, so it was unfortunate that this reviewer was unable to get to the venue in time to catch Brisbane locals Kodiak Empire. I was, however, able to get there just in time to catch the impressive 3 piece Yomi Ship, who had travelled all the way over from W.A.

Yomi Ship have been racking up some pretty impressive slots in recent times, and it’s easy to see why. They manage to throw about 57 genres into one half-hour set, so I’ll do my best to describe them as an experimental psychedelic instrumental math rock with some seriously impressive chops, and they are incredibly tight. Apart from a few spoken words between songs they have a minimalist set design and stage presence, opting instead to allow their music to do the talking and geez do they have a lot to say. They certainly caught the attention of the uninitiated punters, of which I was one, captivating the audience with their ambient sounds and complex song arrangements. These guys are definitely ones to keep an eye out for, especially if you are into complex and progressive song structures with atmospheric sounds.

With Yomi Ship clearing the stage and the sold-out crowd starting to build, it allowed time to quickly explore the Princess Theatre and really take in what is an absolutely gorgeous venue. I had noticed from photos dropped on the band’s socials for their Melbourne & Adelaide shows that they had seemed to have specifically chosen some pretty stunning venues for this tour. Perhaps this was a coincidence, but given this was the band’s first proper headline tour since 2019, I can’t help but feel that this was a deliberate choice taken by the band to select venues with an intimate feel and lush acoustics to help them celebrate finally becoming free from their contractual agreements and taking full ownership of their music once again. This after all is the whole point of this Vinyl tour; celebrating the release of their iconic LP’s The New Normal and Sharing Space on the Vinyl Format and the expiration of a deal signed over 15 years ago.

Anyone who has ever experienced a Cog show before, that has sung their heart out in unison with a thousand other strangers understands the feeling that a Cog show always brings. The togetherness, the removal of all the bullshit and that incredible feeling of just embracing being alive and sharing that eighty minutes with a bunch of like-minded individuals celebrating music and being alive. This celebration has always been evident at the countless Cog shows I’ve attended over the years. I can recall noticing the sense of pride those already in the know displayed when the band supported System Of A Down way back in 2002. It was abundantly clear at their epic closing set of the Converse Stage at the Big Day Out in 2006 following the release of The New Normal. You could point to their promotion to the main stage at The Big Day Out a few years later as a special moment or their sold-out reunion shows in 2016 when they announced to the world that they were back and hadn’t lost an inch. But of all these incredible moments the band and crowd have shared over the years, this night in Brisbane hit different. It’s as though the band themselves who have always been incredibly humble and gracious to their fans, have somehow managed to find an even higher level of gratitude and appreciation to be in this position. Tonight felt like a culmination of every big moment the band have experienced since their inception and that this tour is their way of celebrating it with their fans and boy, where we, their rabid fans ready to return that level of hype straight back at them.

Opening the set with Real Life for the first time in over 16 years was an outstanding choice and perfectly set the tone for the evening with its infectious and catchy-as-all-hell chorus and ripping energy. This song never disappoints live, and the energy it created between the band and the audience instantly set the tone for the evening. Next up was the always well-received Are You Interested. This track often finds its way into the set early, and it’s easy to see why. With a catchy chorus that encourages crowd participation, it wasn’t long before Flynn stood back and let the crowd take the vocals as he stood there beaming with a smile from ear to ear as the band worked their way through the song. Anarchy OK was next on the list and this is always a pleasure seeing Luke take the Mic and command the stage before the familiar change kicks in and the band erupts with a sheer sonic energy that always delivers the goods in the most crushing of ways.

Swamp and Sharing Space were next up before the band dropped in an old faithful with What If where Flynn was once again happy to step back and let the crowd take over during parts of the chorus section with that beaming smile once again evident. Addressing the crowd Flynn thanked the crew who the majority of which have been with the band since the start and made special mention of their tour manager Yogi who managed to dislocate his shoulder at the start of tour in Melbourne. He dedicated the next song to all of them before the all too familiar voiceover of The Spine kicked in. The mosh pit sure is more tame than it used to be for the mid-section of this song back in the day, but the song itself still hits as hard as it ever did and is always a highlight of a Cog show. It was a shame to see this song removed from the set during the Sharing Space days, so it has been great to see it consistently remain in their since 2016.

Charades was next up in the set, followed by a dedication to Julian Assange and another whistle-blower whose name unfortunately escapes me, as the band kicked into The Town Of Lincoln. These two songs while both incredible and well-loved in their own right, do allow the energy to drop just slightly, so I was curious to see what was next in store. As the backing track kicked in to announce the presence of Run, the energy went to a new level we hadn’t yet seen for the evening. The interplay between the band and the audience, the smiles on the band’s faces, the elation in the crowd, Run absolutely slayed and was an absolute stand-out for the evening. The energy in the room could not have been higher before the light focused in on Luke once again as he started working his way to the chords to introduce My Enemy. It was at this point in the evening that the roof was in danger of being ripped right off. Lucius as meticulous and energetic as ever was clearly loving it, Flynn was allowing the audience to take over the song at regular intervals and Luke was doing what Luke always does, pouring every ounce of his soul into his playing. Much like Run before it, My Enemy was an absolute stand-out and encapsulated everything that makes this band amazing. What an incredible live moment, I’m sure many of our voices are still recovering from.

The band had room for two more with the crowd favourite Bird Of Feather followed by Problem, Reaction, Solution before the band exited the stage having just gifted us some of the most incredible 80 minutes of live music we are likely to witness this year. If you have the opportunity to see them in Sydney or Canberra for the last remaining shows of this tour, do it, you will not be disappointed.

Hopefully it won’t be another 5 years between headline shows and with a bit of luck we may be able to somehow convince them to give us a 20-year anniversary of The New Normal tour in 2025. Fingers crossed anyway. Thank you Cog!

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