Plini + The Helix Nebula + I Built the Sky + Caution: Thieves
The Worker’s Club, Melbourne
22 August 2015
Review by Rod Whitfield
When you go to watch a night of four bands, three of which happen to be all instrumental, the words ‘sold out’ are emblazoned upon the front of the band room, and the room is jam packed at 8.30pm for the start of the first band, you know you’re in for a pretty damn good night. And this night wasn’t just that, it was a special night.
The one and only vocal orientated band on the night opened proceedings. Caution: Thieves slam out a rather angry, discordant brand of melodic hardcore, with just a few progressive touches thrown in for good measure. To suit, the vocals are mainly dirty, with the odd clean here and there to add some colour to the mix.
The vocalist was a little intimidated by illustrious musicianship that was to follow, claiming that his band was the ‘worst band on the bill’ and ‘sucked on their instruments’ by comparison. However, the humility wasn’t fake (he seemed sincerely in awe of the company they were keeping this evening) or overdone, and overall this Melbourne four piece did an admirable job of opening this night of instrumental wizardry, despite only actually playing for about 20 minutes.
I Built the Sky opened with about 45 seconds of Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water, which was a nice, tongue in cheek tribute, before unleashing their fired up, groove laden instrumental hardcore upon the packed to the rafters crowd. This band have a knack for melody in amongst the crunch, which is great to behold, and they received a very rousing reception at the end of their 30-minute set. The two openers set the scene and warmed the buzzing crowd very nicely.
I have, and love, The Helix Nebula’s EP of last year, Meridian. In fact, it was among my favourite releases of last year. However, nothing could prepare me for the sheer onslaught of mesmerising technical wizardry that emanated from this band in a live setting. It really was quite amazing. These are guys that have spent hours upon hours at home in their bedrooms, practicing their instruments until their fingers are bloodied and worn to the bone.
However, it wasn’t just the blistering technicality that impresses with this band. Their compositions are catchy, well written and take the listener on a wild ride as well. Plus, unlike many other hyper-serious instrumental and techy bands, these guys seemed to be having a great time up there too, which is great to see. These guys are absolute show-offs, but in a good natured, fun and exhilarating way. This band has really only just started, but they have a massive future in the burgeoning tech scene.
I interviewed Plini recently, and he told me that this four date tour, of which this night was the final date, was his fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh live gigs ever. You wouldn’t have known it though, as he and his awesome band took to the stage like a bunch of seasoned, road-hardened pros.
There are a lot of people around who can seriously play their instruments and write great songs or instrumental pieces. There is something very special about Plini however. His compositional nous sets him apart from the tech crowd. In fact, his music isn’t actually all that ‘techy’, it’s more grandiose, theatrical and emotional, much of it sounding like it could be the soundtrack to some epic movie. He can certainly play guitar like a God, but it is this knack for penning cathartic and highly varied pieces of music that is spreading his notoriety worldwide. And those pieces of music come alive even more in a live setting. At the same time, his between song banter is heavily understated and features a wickedly dry sense of humour.
I’m going to make a massive call here: Plini will be the Joe Satriani of our time. He’s that damn good.
World-class musicianship and compositional talents live right on our doorstep folks, and hopefully more people are awakening to this fact. This night was very special indeed, and there were some great luminaries of Australia’s abundantly healthy heavy music scene in the crowd enjoying every moment of it. A hearty congratulations to all involved in this tour, may there be many more like it in the future.