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Gig Review: Dead Letter Circus + supports, Melbourne

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Dead Letter Circus + 10 Years + Guards of May
The Forum, Melbourne
10 October 2015
Review by Rod Whitfield

Imagine my joy when I found out that one of my favourite bands on the planet would be doing the Melbourne leg of tour for their brand new album at my favourite venue in the world. I love the Melbourne Forum, the look of the place, the vibe, the sound in there, the fact that the place feels big and intimate at the same time. This would be a great night.

Dead Letter Circus gave their Brisbane brothers Guards of May a massive opportunity by putting them on this huge tour, and they have grasped it firmly with their collective ten hands. I’d seen them a number of times in tiny pub venues, and they always put on an entertaining show. But put them in the bigger setting and their music and stage presence truly came alive.

This was the guys’ first time playing in a place so big, and they were not overawed by it at all. In fact, they looked like they were born to play in big places. Their sound was crisp, tight and powerful, with frontman Richo Harvey’s excellent voice projecting nicely above the band’s wall of sound, they used the massive stage with confidence and the steadily building crowd were suitably impressed.

10 Years came from Tennessee in the States to join DLC on their album tour. They must have a sizeable following in Australia, as the reception for them was quite rapturous. On record, their sound is dark and moody, but live they open up and go a little more ballistic, and the crowd responded to their high energy levels. Their set closer was quite intense. Overall, I found Guards of May’s sound to be much clearer and punchier, but the Americans put on a crowd-pleasing set nonetheless.

The last couple of times I’ve seen Dead Letter Circus live, they’ve used Johnny Farnham’s You’re the Voice as their intro track to get the crowd pumped and singing along, and it’s worked an absolute treat every time. At this point I gazed across the crowd from my excellent vantage point at the very front and to the left side of the stage. I saw rockers (duh!), hipsters, teenage girls who, if you saw them in the street, would think would be more into Katy Perry. I love how music brings people together.

It may also bespeak of the growing appeal and reach of this band.

To use a, possibly inappropriate footballing analogy, one gets the feeling that Dead Letter Circus have been playing a big finals series since the release of their awesome debut EP back in 2007. But now, with the release of their third album Aesthesis and this tour, they have won their preliminary final and are now lining up in the Grand Final. They have truly entered the big league, and they are winning.

Firstly, it’s great to see that they are finally playing in a venue that does justice to their arena-sized rock sound and performance. I must have seen this band 10 times over the years, but I knew about half way through the opening number that this would be their best gig yet.

This was the type of gig that sends shivers up your spine and makes the (rapidly thinning, in my case) hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention. The type of rock gig where the immense sound truly fills you and envelopes you, and the passion of the band’s performance and the size of the production dazzles your eyes. It was the type of gig that you wish you could have bottled, to drink from in the future when you are feeling down or low on energy. It was that good.

The set list was excellent, with a great balance of the new album and their previous two records and the aforementioned EP. Best tune of the night goes to Here We Divide however, which was simply universe-sized. Great to see an old-fashioned drum solo too, with Luke Williams’ performance as bombastic as expected.

In the end, my one and only beef was that one hour was nowhere near enough. I left wanting more. But sometimes this is what great bands do.

This was a ‘moment in time’ gig. This may be the point where you look back and say ‘that band truly became the world-shaking entity that we knew they could be’. Dead Letter Circus have been slamming on the door for quite a few years. In mid to late 2015 they have smashed it apart and walked confidently through.


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