As I’m walking down the harbour foreshore towards the bright lights of Luna Park, I can’t help but think that The Big Top must not only be one of the coolest venues for Sydney gig-goers, but one of the most unique venues in Australia, or even the world, for touring bands to play. Not only is the Harbour Bridge and Opera House in spectacular view, but the ghostly 1930’s style theme park makes an incredible venue backdrop. Especially on nights like tonight when the weather is gloomy, and Halloween is just around the corner.
Hailing from New Orleans, Louisiana, front act Cane Hill carried the vibe from the outside in with a powerful performance of industrial goodness. The stage was dimly lit, and their windmilling silhouettes projected an energy that got the crowd moving. Their tight set was supported by backing tracks of synths, haunting voices and mechanical sound effects. New Jesus is a standout track and reminds me of Slipknot’s Psychosocial.
“We’re not like all the other stupid Americans we have brains… fuck Trump and all that shit,” they proclaim before continuing onto synth-laden, Saint Veronica. Is industrial metal a thing again? I’ve never been a fan, but I feel like Cane Hill have made me a believer. Especially when frontman Elijah Witt, puts on so much of a good show that that the mic lead turns into “a tumbleweed of dicks.”
Looking around the crowd during the changeover, most people seem to be donning Bullet For My Valentine shirts. One guy even has a flag wrapped around him; there’s no doubt he is one of the most patriotic metal heads in the room.
Wondrous Boat Ride from the original Willy Wonka film is the intro to Atreyu’s set and supports the eerie vibe of the night. Doomsday cracks things wide open followed by Right Side of the Bed. At this point, everyone has their hands in the air, and when the solo comes along, devil horns and fists turn into the most spirited of spirit fingers. The duel harmonies of drummer, Brandon Saller, and guitarist Dan Jacobs are spot on with the recording.
As Atreyu instruct the crowd to open up and form a circle pit, the band make their mini circle pit on stage too, which is pretty hilarious. Heavier stuff from the new album follows, before their classic cover of Bon Jovi’s You Give Love A Bad Name. The crowd sings along with gusto.
Do You know Who You Are from last year’s release, “Long Live,” clearly pays homage to Queen’s We Will Rock You and allows crowd participation. Alex Varkatzas’s vocal style in the verses is very Beastie Boys and something different for him. Before the gig, many musician friends of mine warned that Atreyu isn’t the tightest of bands. However, their playing is fine except for crowd-favorite Blow, which admittedly is pretty sloppy. But what they lack in tightness they make up for in cowbell and the crowd loves it regardless.
As we wait for the headliners, a sea of black T-shirts switches between chanting “Bullet, Bullet” and arbitrarily cheering at roadies. Finally, Motorhead’s classic track Ace of Spade’s blasts through the monitors and everyone is so hyped another circle pit is underway before the Welsh four-piece even hit the stage.
No Way Out is the opener during which we’re all moshing with smiles from ear to ear. Up next is Your Betrayal which keeps the crowd moving relentlessly and I take a moment to appreciate the amazing sound at The Big Top tonight. It’s loud, but not ear-splitting and the kick is so on point that it’s pretty much impossible to stand still. Bullet seems to be playing a balanced set of songs from all albums, and 4 Words (To Choke Upon) is a highlight.
The slower pace of Venom is a needed reprieve, and Matt Tuck’s vocals are just as good live as they are on their recordings. Drummer, Jason Bowld (filling for Michael “Moose” Thomas while on a tempory leave of absense) breaks up the set with a killer drum solo that leads into the highly-anticipated tune, Scream Aim Fire. At this point, I get separated from my friends in the mosh pit and retreat to the edge of the room for a different perspective. The Poison is another highlight, and from my new vantage point I see just how many people are in the room, brought together by their passion for heavy music.
Every band on the bill tonight has brought something unique and different, yet the crowd has been united. Well after the show has ended, punters chant “Bullet, Bullet,” from the merch stand all the way to the famous clown face at Luna Park’s entrance. If you don’t already have tickets for tonight’s Brisbane show, I highly recommend you get on it.
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