Mastodon, Gojira and Baroness Live @ The Palace, Melbourne 25.02.14

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Soundwave week is like Christmas for rock and metal fans and when you get to see three big-name international bands like Baroness, Gojira and Mastodon on the one sidewave line-up, it’s like all of your Christmases have come at once.

For those in or rapidly approaching their thirties, the beautifully grandiose Palace with its perpetually sticky floors  always brings back fond, decade-old memories of the venue’s nightclub event Goo and those that attended last night’s show now have  another fond Palace memory to add to the collection.

Baroness eased the crowd into the evening with instrumental track ‘Green Theme’ off their latest album, Yellow and Green, rolling into the powerful ‘Take My Bones Away’. Their short, six-song set was an ode to Yellow and Green, with the only song not from the album being ‘A Horse Called Golgotha’ from their previous album, Blue Record. They ended their set with ‘Eula’, which was an anti-climactic choice, especially where the stand-out ‘Take My Bones Away’ would have provided a perfect ending to their dynamic, heartfelt and somehow almost romantic set.

Following on from the smoothness of Baroness’ came Gojira’s brutal assault, easily the highlight of the evening. Opening with ‘Explosia’, Gojira instantly soothed the angsty crowd who had waited for what felt like an eternity between Baroness and Gojira, but in reality was probably only about 20 minutes tops. There was a general air of anxious excitement in the crowd that steadily increased in intensity through ‘The Axe’ and ‘Backbone’ culminating in a sweaty, rowdy, and enthusiastic pit thanks to the encouragement of singer/guitarist, Joe Duplantier during ‘The Heaviest Matter of the Universe’. Not only were Gojira’s sound and performance outstanding, but the lighting, particularly the rapidly alternating white lighting during ‘Backbone’, was perfectly controlled chaos. Gojira ended their eight-song sex with ‘The Gift of Guilt’, which was a good choice to ease fans back into reality without destroying the endorphins amassed mid-set.

While Gojira had the most energetic crowd, Mastodon’s stunning performance had almost the entire audience singing along in unison. On their second tour for their latest album, The Hunter, Mastodon clearly favoured that album with eight of the seventeen tracks played being from it; however fans of older Mastodon albums were satiated with classic tracks like ‘Crack the Skye’, ‘Divinations’, ‘Crystal Skull’, ‘Oblivion’ and ‘Megalodon’ from their back catalogue. Singer/bassist Troy Sanders was enigmatic with his energetic movement around the stage, a stark contrast to the rigidity of guitarists, Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher. Inconsequential rigidity aside, Mastodon were beautifully powerful and the audience eagerly basked in the splendour, singing along to every song. The stand-out song of the set was definitely ‘All the Heavy Lifting’ off The Hunter, which was followed by the almost as enjoyable ‘Spectrelight’. The set ended on ‘Blood and Thunder’, which  was an apt ending to the night. A further finishing touch, perfectly capping off the night, were drummer Brann Dailor’s closing remarks that Mastodon will be back next year with a new album.

– Photos by Jay Hynes

 

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