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FILTER, BLACK SMOKE TRIGGER: The Metro Theatre, Sydney 06/04/24

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Pix by Angie New Photography

Words by Matt New

It seems that the floodgates have opened recently in Australia, with a surge of amazing bands touring in 2024. One band that fans have been eagerly anticipating is the industrial rock icons, Filter. Founded in 1993 by ex-Nine Inch Nails guitarist Richard Patrick in Cleveland, Ohio, Filter has enjoyed a successful 30-year career, releasing many celebrated rock albums in the 1990s and 2000s that continue to be relevant in 2024. They are currently touring for their new album, The Algorithm, marking their first visit to Australia since 2014 when they were a late addition to the Soundwave Festival that year. So it is fair to say that the evening had all of the ingredients to be a memorable occasion for many Sydney rock fans.

Joining Filter on their tour of Australia and New Zealand was Napier-based hard-rock outfit Black Smoke Trigger. Right from the get-go, they ran onto stage and burst into a raft of groovy hard-hitting riffs with a massive amount of enthusiasm and attitude. The lads all exemplified a high level of musicianship, and their songs were incredibly crafted, full of awesome riffs and vocal hooks, drawing on key influences from bands such as Guns N Roses and Alice In Chains.

Frontman John “Baldrick” Rasmussen was infectiously charismatic and showcased incredible vocal range, which serves as good reason to why they were selected to support Filter for this tour. Guitarist Charlie Wallace was masterful on his Gibson Les Paul’s, as every riff and solo was intricately woven with precision and aggression. Finally, their rhythm section, which consisted of Dan Fulton on bass and Josh Te Maro on drums, was bulletproof and powerful. Black Smoke Trigger’s set featured many songs from their debut record Set It Off (2019), including bangers like The Way I’m Wired and Blindfolds & Rattlesnakes, in addition to a couple of brand new singles K.M.T.L and Proof Of Life that went off live. A pleasantly enjoyable experience, and a great snapshot to see what the current state of rock music in New Zealand is like currently, and Black Smoke Trigger seem to be leading the charge.

Filter emerged on stage shrouded in smoke and haunting lighting, kicking off their set with the opening track from 2002’s The Amalgamut, You Walk Away. It was amazing! The band then played a string of songs from 2023’s The Algorithm album, including The Drowning, For The Beaten, and Face Down. These newer Filter songs translated incredibly well, but the crowd’s energy seemed to dip in comparison when Filter played one of their classics. Like Nine Inch Nails, Filter has experienced many line-up changes, but Richard Patrick has remained the constant visionary for over three decades. The newest incarnation of the band features ex-Ashes Divide guitarist Johnny Radtke, Act Of Falling frontman Bobby Miller on bass and backing vocals, and new drummer Tosh Peterson, who has an impressive resume touring with high-profile artists. This is highly impressive for someone who had just celebrated his 23rd birthday that evening, complete with a birthday cake brought onto stage and the entire Metro audience singing Happy Birthday to him.

One thing that has not waivered is the consistency and quality of the music, but most importantly; Richard Patrick’s vocals. With the mind-blowing range and power he possesses, plus the ability to really push his vocals to where others fear to tread; it is amazing to know that he can still achieve what he was known for in his prime. He was meticulous and did not falter once through the band’s incredible 20 song set. He presents as a very passionate and surprisingly humble individual, devoid of the arrogant frontman persona many like to stereotype. Given he is originally known as a guitarist, it was a shock to only see him play guitar on two songs, those being Dose and It’s Gonna Kill Me as when he did play, the weight and power of the mix was mighty.

Some key observations of brilliance that Filter translated live included some amazing three-part vocal harmonies on Obliteration between Patrick, Radtke and Miller. It gave me goosebumps at how precise and in sync they were, not an easy thing to do by any means.

Also playing into Patrick’s sense of humour, one would have thought we would be treated to the exact same set as Melbourne the night before. Well guess what? Surprise! Sydney got treated to Surprise from 2013’s The Sun Comes Out Tonight as a welcome bonus.

As Richard Patrick explained “there are two sides to Filter, side A and side B” Going from densely heavy industrial fused alternative rock songs, to melodic and uplifting pop flavours such as the iconic Take A Picture which is arguably the band’s most well known hit and yes, everyone including myself, was singing along! Afterwards, Richard Patrick replied with utter satisfaction “I sang the shit out of that song”, giving his absolute all for the fans he admires so dearly. He was very vocal about the notion of spreading the message of love and connectedness, and his sentimental nature made the entire audience feel like part of his extended family, as he reminded us that without the fans, there is no Filter.

Filter does not believe in the concept of encores, so the tail end of their set was a crescendo of intensity, which included all the big tracks American Cliche, Welcome To The Fold, and Hey Man Nice Shot. Filter’s performance was truly incredible, leaving nothing left in the tank; after giving it their all. Richard Patrick has surrounded himself with some amazing young talent who are dedicated to keeping the legacy of this incredible band alive. Drummer Tosh Peterson was mesmerising and a shining example of the genre’s promising future, with bands like Filter actively supporting the development of these musicians.

Filter once again demonstrated why they are one of the best in the business, regardless of who is in the band at the time. Their performance served as a reminder to live in the moment and enjoy the company of those who are close to us.

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