During my recent trip to Melbourne for the Semi-Permanent conference [which i’ll jot about soon] I made it along to a couple of pretty epic concerts. The first being Slayer and Megadeth on the 9th October at the Festival Hall and the second Elvis Costello on the 13th October at the Palais Theater in St Kilda. Both starkly different but both pretty outstanding.
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Slayer / Megadeth was the first concert I’d been to in a different country and it was amazing how different the behaviour of the crowd was compared with NZ. I usually find NZ crowds pretty bolshe and well just pushy but maybe thats to do with the music I normally go see. Although this was a metal show, everyone was pretty courteous and friendly; no real dickheads or drunks. I got asked about five times ‘hows its going mate’. I guess not surprising it was both a pretty young and pretty old crowd [lots in their 40’s] and not too many in between. And in terms of crowd tee-shirt ratio, it was about 50% Slayer, 48% Megadeth, and 2% other metal bands [Motorhead, Cannibal Corpse, Metallica, Iron Maiden] + one weirdo in a Wilco tee.
The Festival Hall venue was pretty solid and is definitely set up well for quick entry [taking into account every on is metal detected and patted down]. One warning though if you are booking your tickets online for here is that the seating graphic for the venue does not accurately match how it really is. What I thought, when ordering, was going to be a prime ticket on the side, close but in front of the stage, ended up being directly adjacent to it. This meant the view of the stage was impeded by the sound guy, gear boxes and lighting rig which was pretty stink. But oh well you live, you learn. I’d recommend, If you don’t want to be in the main mosh part here definitely go for the middle tier drinking section. What is nice about the venue is it is purpose fit for shows and not some makeshift sporting venue. It is ideally wider than it is long, with good acoustics.
I missed the warm up act Double Dragon [Adelaide-based] – the concert was on the same day as the first day of Semi-Permanent so had do a made dash up there after the last speaker. I wasn’t there to see them anyway, so wasn’t too bummed. I’m sure they were good though.
Anyway, Megadeth were up first [of the 2 big acts] and they were absolutely brutal! I think this is the best band dynamic they have had in years with especially Chris Broderick on board. And no matter what people say about Dave Mustaine, he is a amazing frontman who can definitely work to the crowd with wit and respect. I particularly like during the beginning of their set they were having feedback issues and after one of the songs he said “we have come so far that we can’t let this get between us. Your are too important”. That was pretty cool to say. Overall it was a really solid set with a good mix of tracks, and definitely didn’t seem like they were foaming any of it in. I would have liked them to have played ‘Never Walk Alone’ and ‘Train of Consequences’ but they did have a shortened set with sharing honors with Slayer. Anyway we got a predictably awesome version of ‘Holy Wars’ and ‘Headcrusher’ off the new album ‘End Game’. So I was happy.
Set list – Megadeth: Set the World Afire, Wake Up Dead, Devil’s Island, She-Wolf, Hangar 18, In My Darkest Hour, Rattlehead, Headcrusher, Tornado of Souls, Symphony of Destruction, Peace Sells, Holy Wars
Mustaine was a bit miffed at the crowd who didn’t know the chorus to Headcrusher well enough to scream it out. Jokingly he threatening to leave the stage after the pitiful audience effort which was funny but the album had only been out for two weeks, so he was probably expecting a bit much. Here’s the video for the track, very metal:
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Although I was MORE there for Slayer than Megadeth I must say I enjoyed that later much more. The sole reason here being that Tom Araya had pretty much lost his voice and sang very little. He spent most of the time stalking around the stage feeling sorry for himself and complaining to the sound guy. Not metal at all! For some songs they got randos from the crowd up on stage to sing. Lets just say, although they were keen, they ALL sucked arse. Also at the beginning of the show someone went OTT with the dry ice / smoke machine. Basically I couldn’t see anything from where I was for the first two songs. Not cool Slayer road crew.
I guess one nice thing with Araya out was that without that vocals it did highlighted how important they are to the balance of a Slayer song. Otherwise things begin to sound pretty repetitive or samey. It did heighten though the emphasis of every other instrument especially the drumming of Dave Lombardo who is probably the best in metal and has been for a long while.
Set list – Slayer: World Painted Blood, War Ensemble, Jihad, Born of Fire, Psychopathy Red, Mandatory Suicide, Chemical Warfare, Ghosts of War, Hate Worldwde, Dead Skin Mask, Disciple, Hell Awaits, Angel of Death, South of Heaven.
The highlight of my Slayer experience was actually two days after the show when I saw Kerry King on Elizabeth and Bourke Street. I proceeded to stalk him covertly for about half an hour [I had some time to kill]. For a big tough-looking fella he is surprisingly pretty small and short. I followed him into a underground bookstore called Angus and Robertson. He was talking on his iphone most of the time but was standing in front off and flicking through dog breed and grooming books. I didn’t bother him for a real photo and signature but did get this slightly blurry one of him from the back:
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Elvis Costello – Costello is one of those artist that everyone knows but few know well. I had never listened to him much before before going on my trip but when I saw he was going to be playing at my favourite building in Melbourne, The Palais Theatre, while I was there, I thought, why not, give a nudge. This was my excuse to finally get inside the building too. The Palais, although a bit run down is a gorgeous off-white theatre sitting on the beach right beside Luna Park in St Kilda. It has this grand victorian art deco frontage and is the biggest seated theatre in Australia. Inside it is sorta romantic like the Regent in Dunedin but a hell of a lot bigger and well way more ornate and just better.
On the night of the performance is was raining which didn’t dampen by spirit [sorry for the cliche]. Got the tram out to St Kilda and as I tend to alway do I overcompensated for the time and ended up waiting around for about a hour before the show [but you don’t care about all this shit so I will spare you the details] .
The show – Wow, brilliant, what a consummate professional. Such a tight and lively set [23 songs in total] of just him on stage surrounded by about 10 guitars for different songs. Amazing to think he has been singing some of these songs for 30 odd years now and still with such enthusiasm. He so seasoned a sharp and didn’t get distracted by this one fuck-knuckle who kept screaming some illegible phrase out during pretty much every song. What a tool. Anyway, he was sooo cool, in his purple suite and top hat and his funny stories. Not much more to say than this, other than it was great, you should have been there. It was a really mixed good set. The popular hits, more obscure tracks and few off the new record. Bit gutted he didn’t play ‘Accidents will Happen’ or ‘Green shirt’.
Set list – Elvis Costello: Blue Chair, Rocking Horse Road, Harry Worth, Veronica, Down Among the Wines and Spirits, Suit of Lights, So Like Candy, Everyday I Write the Book, Bedlam, Rope, One Bell Ringing, Hand in Hand, High Fidelity, Watching the Detectives, God’s Comic, Radio Sweetheart, Oliver’s Army, Alison … Encore: Sulphur to Sugarcane, All or Nothing at All, She, Pump it Up, I Want You.
My favourite songs from the night and probably of all time were ‘Watching the Detective’ and ‘I Want You’. Here is original music vid for ‘Watching the Detective’, pretty sweet:
… and a wicked live version of ‘I Want You’ with the gorgeous Fiona Apple:
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Costello was supported by Shelley Harland. She I think is originally from Australia but also now lives in London and New York. She did a fantastic thirty minute set with a three-piece band [I think guitar, double bass and electric keys]. She has a strong beautifully distinctive voice though lyrically the songs are quite straightforward and a bit poppy for me. She is incredibly sexy though so that makes it all ok. I wish I was closer to the stage.
She’s worth a listen, if you like alternative/ indie pop. Harland has just released a new album ‘Red Leaf’ from which the following track ‘Friday’ [which she played in concert] is from:
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