Mesa Amphitheatre - Mesa, USA
Freak (cut off by sound problems)
Anthem For The Year 2000
Review by MIKE STRAMAGLIO
You couldn't help but laugh at the crowd that Fenix TX, silverchair, and Blink 182 had to play to in Mesa, AZ. Standing at a mere 5'8" I towered over most of the people there as the average age was15, give or take a few. Fenix TX came out and jumped right into their upbeat punk tunes. They're a decent band but they don't seem to have any big hooks that would boost them to MTV-status. After a somewhat lengthy set for an opening band, the lights came back on and the crowd waited for silverchair. An emaciated Daniel Johns emerged with Chris, Ben, and Sam following. Daniel had on that glittery shirt he always wears, Chris had some bright orange pants on with a dark t-shirt, and ben, as usual, was shirtless. Daniel looked terrible - his arms were like twigs and his hair looked as though it hadn't been washed in weeks. Hopefully he is still receiving some form of treatment for his eating disorder because he is severely underweight. His arms were so skinny that it appeared as though holding the guitar took every ounce of his strength.
The band opened with Israel's Son and it soon became apparent that the crowd was not there to see silverchair. Negative comments were thrown around throughout silverchair's entire set which included the usual "go back to Australia" and "they're fags." As I watched silverchair rip through a decent performance of Israel's Son I couldn't help but ignore the fact that this wasn't the same silverchair i had come to love. I last saw them on the Freak Show tours in Spring of '97 and drawing a comparison to the silverchair of then to the silverchair of now is like comparing apples and oranges. Missing was the intensity, the drive, and most notably, the "nervous" Daniel Johns who uttered little between songs aside from an awkward "thank you." In the early days Daniel would really concentrate on the music and would rock out to it whereas tonight he seemed to care little about hitting the right lyrics and even less about feeling the music. Israel's Son had all the usual theatrics, including Daniel's cross like pose during the interlude. The distortion on the guitar sounded terrible and the levels were way off. It basically sounded like all the instruments were separate from one another rather than one cohesive unit. I know for a fact it has nothing to do with the venue (saw Creed last night same place - they sounded awesome with respect to acoustics) so I am assuming silverchair didn't really give a shit at their sound check or their sound tech just didn't seem to notice.
Following Israel's Son, the band went straight into Emotion Sickness. This was perhaps their best song of the night (as far as accuracy) and, to my surprise, it sounded just as "full" as it does on the record, despite the displaced volume levels. For both Israel's Son and Emotion Sickness, Daniel played the Les Paul that he used in the video for "Anthem For The Year 2000." I was kinda surprised that Daniel didn't make a switch to a different guitar because this meant that he was playing in an open tuning for Israel's Son. It hardly made a difference, however, because Israel's Son is basically power chords. I am fairly certain that this song received the best response from the crowd though a few still tossed some cruel comments about the band's sexuality...
Next up was Slave, for which Daniel switched guitars. This song was played pretty well, but once again Daniel made no effort to sing all the lyrics. During the chorus he would often trail off or miss lines, and during the interlude he didn't play that little guitar riff over the bass line, but it hardly made a difference. All in all, it was pretty good considering the lack of body movement Daniel made, for such a heavy song.
They kicked right into Pure Massacre after Slave and it was during this song that I noticed the "hollowness" of Ben's kit. I'm not sure if it was the mics or if he reduced the cymbals in his set but something seemed to be missing. This is usually the song where Ben just goes crazy and for some reason it didn't sound quite right. I know the beats (snare and bass, anyway) were all there but the cymbals didn't sound "full" enough. It was most obvious in this song since Ben usually smacks the shit out of every cymbal in the kit. This song was played pretty well by Daniel but he really never got into the singing, which seemed to be the trend throughout the night. Daniel's lack of intensity really affected the overall sound of the band. Back in the day he would scream like crazy but tonight he almost seemed like he was holding back.
After this song Daniel switched guitars again and started talking to the crowd. I didn't catch all of what he said but it was something like "I know what you fucking want" and then he started "Ana's Song." This song was played pretty well, but the chorus was kinda lacking with the vocals.
After Ana's Song, which seemed to be the only song the crowd knew up until this point, they went straight into Satin Sheets. This change up really took the crowd by surprise and stirred up the pit a little. This was probably the only performance where Daniel actually displayed some intensity, and he even screamed a little.
Following the quick, blistering performance of Satin Sheets Daniel started his hallelujah chants, which the crowd did not seem to understand. As usual this led into The Door, which was pretty well played and got the crowd moving again, though no one seemed to know the song.
After The Door, the band started Freak. At this point Daniel finally started showing some signs of life, so to speak, where before he kinda just bounced a little tot he music. Just as they started the first chorus, however, the sound went out. As they departed the stage for the stage hands to fix the problem, Ben teased the crowd by grabbing the fly of his board shorts. They left the stage for a bit and when they returned Ben decided to moon the crowd, which, once again, drew a lot of negative comments from the non-chair fans. When Ben finally got his butt back to the drum kit, they played Anthem For the Year 2000. Daniel started the "we are the youth" chant but the crowd didn't quite understand until he gestured toward us to sing along. It took probably 8 times of chanting "we are the youth" before Daniel was satisfied enough to finish the verse. After a decent rendition of the song, they left the stage and didn't return.
Although it sounds as though I am not a silverchair fan based on this review alone, I can assure you that I am, and have probably been a lot longer than some of you reading this right now. The reason I have given them such a bad review is because, of the 5 times I have seen silverchair this was, without a doubt, their worst performance. The reason I emphasized Daniel so much throughout the review is because his on-stage persona was most noticeably different than in previous years. His energy just was not there, and that affected the overall feel of the show. His singing was more or less reserved, his body movement limited, and his concern for accuracy was lacking. Ben and Chris, however, put on a solid show, despite Ben's more hollow-sounding drum kit (which, for the benefit of the doubt, I will assume had to do with the mics). The show was decent, but I know silverchair are capable of putting on a far better show than simply a "decent" show. The current silverchair pales in comparison to the past silverchair, as far as stage presence. Hopefully, they (well Daniel, actually) was just having a bad night. Otherwise, some of the older chair fans who have seen them before will be disappointed.
Review by TRE
I just got into silverchair about 4 months ago. And to have them come to Arizona so soon? I was ecstatic. I hurried to find ticket info. as soon as possible, and after two weeks of trying to convince the venue that silverchair was indeed coming ( I heard about the concert before it was confirmed), I secured tickets and endured the long wait. Finally, it was time to go. We ran head on into a million problems that day, which I wont mention, but we finally got through the doors and down into the "pit". I was so thrilled, I was about 4 rows back from where silverchair would soon be standing.
The lights went down and the opening band, Fenix TX, came onstage and halfway through the first song, the singer told everyone to make the biggest, hardest mosh pit ever. So everyone squished together to make room for the slam circle, me getting my lungs squished in the process. I have been in a bunch of mosh pits but never one this tightly packed, and when the little girl next to me fell down, she took me with her. 3 or 4 people fell on top of me and I got trampled on. Finally some guy helped me up, and taking one look at my bloody face ( I got hit with what we think was a chicks ring, and I split my lip) picked me up and carried me to the paramedics, who then took me to the ambulance set up right outside the arena. By this time Fenix TX had stopped playing and I knew that silverchair would be coming on at any minute, but the paramedic chick wouldn't let me leave.
"Can I go now?"
"No, you have a concussion and we need to make sure that you don't need stitches."
"Oh come on! Its a tiny cut, I don't need stitches. Please just let me go. I came to this concert for one reason and one reason only. I've never heard Fenix TX and I am not impressed, and I really hate Blink-182. I came to see silverchair, and they are onstage! (by now silverchair had launched into Israel's Son)"
"Just hold on a minute." She turned her back to me as she said this, so I took the opportunity and bolted out of the ambulance and back into the arena. There they were! Daniel was center stage wearing his usual shiny silver shirt, and what I think were dark pants. I don't know, I never saw below his guitar because I had peoples heads in my way. Chris was wearing these awesome bright orange pants and he was using the bass that I have decided to call his "neon" bass. He used it in the Anthem video and the Ana's video. Ben was his usual shirtless self, pounding away on the skins above Daniel.
Daniel didn't talk much, but he did do a small piece of his "Can I get a Hallelujah?" segment. But this was not responded to well. Instead of giving him one, everyone just kinda screamed. He told us that he liked one of our sports teams and that he would come back and see them, only I never caught what team he was referring to. I suppose had the sound technicians spent a little more time sound checking for the Chair, I would have understood Daniel quite a bit better. His voice was pretty jumbled, and during some songs, there was unwanted whining. Mind you he did some good whines during some of the songs, where he went up to the amp. Although, once, it looked like he got kind of intimate with the amp.
During Freak, the sound went dead and Daniel looked quite pissed off. To kill time, I suppose, Ben decided to tease the screaming girls and began to "take off" his pants. But alas, it did not happen, which severely upset the girl standing next to me. The band left the stage for a few moments, and then came back on. Ben's rear completely exposed (nice bum Ben). This seemed to have been normal or something because no one around me was too surprised. Remember, I have never seen silverchair in any live performance, not even on the telly.
They didn't finish Freak, which saddened me, but went into a different song. When they started Anthem, Daniel tried to get the crowd involved by saying "We are the youth" and then trying to get us to repeat it. Well no one seemed to really understand this I guess, cause it took him forever to get a response. He finally had to do that little "repeat what I say you idiots!" hand gesture. I screamed so loud and sang so loud during the silverchair segment that I lost my voice. I admire Daniel (or any singer for that matter) that can do that every single night, singing and yelling. They finished the set and left. I don't like Blink-182 so I left and walked around the venue. The silverchair shirts didn't come in until about ten minutes before Blink finished the concert. And I had already spent my money on a Blink shirt that I thought was cute and planned on defacing when i got it home.
I wish I could give a better review, maybe mention stuff that Daniel said, but the sound was awful. I just know what I have told you, and that he said the work "fuck" a lot. And that during Anthem he flipped us all off, so we gave the finger right back. That was fun, j/k!
I can't wait until they come back in a concert of their own. Without Fenix TX to try and kill me, and without Blink to bore me. I'll hear more songs and have an even better time. It was an awesome night battles scars and all.