Royal Theatre - Canberra, Australia
Slave (with Israel's Son intro)
Daniel: "Thank you. The next song, Lucinda Ferguson's gonna play lead guitar. She rocks, and she's the only female we know with a beard. Sexual guidance counselor Lucinda... ah... whatever her name is."
Daniel: "Thank you. Thanks, Canberra. Canberra's nice. It's very clean. All right. I'm gonna play this song by myself."
Daniel: "All right. Can't you people realise we hate playing that song, and we played it for your benefit? So be thankful. Be thankful we played our number one grunge rock trio hit. Now we're gonna play a song that nobody seems to like. Except us."
Daniel: "We don't take requests. We play what we want. Shade? Don't think so. We're not here to play super rock power ballads, all right? We're here to rock! You motherfuckers ready to rock? Are you motherfuckers ready to ROCK?"
Daniel: "Oh for fuck's sake stop saying 'shade.' Do you guys wanna rock or do you wanna hold your fucking lighters in the air while we play Bon Jovi? 'Cause wait, I know a Bon Jovi riff -- just wait. [Daniel plays his guitar.] That's from Bed of Roses. We cover that song, as well as various other love classics. Ah FUCK, stop saying 'shay-y-y-de!' [Daniel plays a riff from Shade.]
Daniel: "This is for Watto. This is the closest we have to Shade 'cause it is about abuse. Another form of abuse. It's about animal liberation and people who have sex with animals, like Watto."
Daniel: "There's one problem with society today. Do you want me to tell you what it is? Social prejudice and hatred, and a belief that Santa Claus is real. In fact, he's a fat fuck who sucks Mrs. Claus' nipples for Christmas. Except, wait, if there's any young people in the audience, that was just a joke to be cool to the older crowd. It isn't really true. I'm not fucking joking. I saw a reindeer when I was little. It was nothing to do with Santa, but I did see a reindeer. It looked very nice. It was very sexy."
By ANTHONY CALVERT
There was a silverchair article in The Canberra Times entertainment guide last week, a summary of silverchair's career so far and what fans could expect at Wednesday's concert. Writer Tim Wallace wrote: "You want to hear what silverchair have to say? Skip the reading and cut to the chase - everything they have to say is said when they perform, and this summer a great part of Australia will come to know it". I along with over a thousand other people came to know it on Wednesday night, as I saw silverchair come of age in the greatest concert I've ever seen.
After seeing the Wollongong concert the day before, I got home to Canberra and the Royal Theatre about an hour before silverchair were due to take the stage. I have to admit I was worried that my home town crowd wouldn't live up to the excellent Wollongong mob from the night before. When I walked inside my fears were dispelled, the floor and the seated area were packed, those who weren't inside were out in the lobby with friends, or outside destroying their lungs. The Royal Theatre is part of a convention centre, and has a large floor and seated area, with a big stage that housed all 12 of the heaters from the Freak video clip. From the looks of things silverchair had at least 3 times as many people as Bush did when they played there.
I wasn't in time to see the first support band Toe To Toe, however I saw them the night before. I guess they're OK if you're into the hardcore type thing. I don't know if the lead singer is American, if he isn't he sure tries to sound like it, even between songs. Magic Dirt loves Wollongong and it's crowd, and they put on an excellent show that night as proof. I don't know if they like Canberra as much, but I caught the end of their set and it was pretty good.
Then the stage crew came on and started setting up for silverchair as Led Zeppelin played over the speakers. The lights slowly dimmed and everyone with floor tickets stood up and crowded around, waiting in anticipation. It was a long 10 minutes or so until the sound effects of keys in locks and cages being opened were heard, followed by screams and cheering as silverchair took the stage.
Opening the show with the intro to Israel's Son was an excellent idea; if you've seen a live show you know the feeling you get when you hear that bass line and the crowd goes wild. Chris, Daniel and Ben then merged this seamlessly into Slave, with every pause in the intro increasing the atmosphere until Daniel's guitar and the crash of Ben's cymbals sent the crowd crazy. After Slave they launched straight into a great version of Roses. The band have taken their playing to the next level; Daniel thrashes around wildly on stage and stays note perfect, while Chris and Ben pound away in perfect time. Chris has a new bass and it's so powerful you can actually feel each note rebound against your body. Daniel's guitar doesn't play over the bass any more -- they play together to deliver the fullest sound I have ever heard from silverchair. With Freak Show so bass heavy, Chris is a vital part of the silverchair sound and now demands a strong stage presence that is all his own. I saw what was probably a paper cup fly by his head while he was playing. He looked up and with a stoney expression on his face, shook his head 'no' at someone in the crowd. There are professional football players smaller than Chris and I didn't see anything go near him again all night. However, I did see him smiling whenever there was a special "band moment" or when Daniel did something funny. It's awesome to see this band being so professional while having fun at the same time.
Abuse Me was next and Daniel told us that "Lucinda Ferguson's gonna play lead guitar... and she's the only female we know with a beard. Sexual guidance counselor Lucinda... ah... whatever her name is." Just when you think Abuse Me may be a little mellow, along comes the "throw the sailors overboard" part with Daniel screaming "every mother fucker jump!" Pure Massacre followed; again Daniel commanded everyone to jump and they gladly complied. This is one of the older songs but the band still play it as hard as ever. It's a welcome regular in the set and still goes off live.
Ben and Chris then left the stage, leaving Daniel to play Cemetery. "Thank you," he said. "Thanks, Canberra. Canberra's nice, it's very cool. I'm gonna play this song by myself." You could feel the emotion Daniel put into this song. Even the number of screaming teenies fell as Daniel's voice rose above everything else, drawing the crowd in. Cemetery was followed by Suicidal Dream, another great regular in the set, bringing the mosh bit back to life with its big finale.
The famous intro to Tomorrow got the crowd excited and singing along to the first verse. Although the band are sick of playing the song, it's cool to see what they do to try and keep it interesting. Whether it's Daniel singing in another octave, or changing the lyrics to "you think you can keep on going living like a SCHLONG." Afterward, Daniel announced that "in case you didn't realise, we hate playing that song and we played it for your benefit, so be thankful." He went on about it being their "number one grunge rock trio hit," and then said, "Now we're going to play a song nobody seems to like, except us." I had heard Nobody Came live for the first time the night before, and it was awesome again in Canberra. The last part of the song is a sight to behold, with Ben trying to pound a hole in his drums, Chris hunched over his bass, Daniel thrashing around the stage and the whole mosh pit in a frenzy jumping up and down.
Daniel got more and more chatty as the night went on, hopefully because he was having a good time. In response to people down the front yelling at him he announced, "We don't take requests. We play what we want. Shade? Don't think so. We're not here to play super rock power ballads, all right? We're here to rock! You motherfuckers ready to rock? ARE YOU MOTHERFUCKERS READY TO ROCK?!?!" And what better way to introduce The Door, one of the highlights of the show. This song is SO GOOD live, it tops the brilliant studio version. A slightly modified version of Faultline followed, the finale has been extended so it keeps going, and going, and going, as Daniel plays his guitar like a man possessed in front of Ben and his drum kit.
It was after Faultline that the Canberra crowd was treated to something very special. It's rare for silverchair to play anything that's not on the set list, but we were lucky enough to be treated to it twice... "Oh, for fuck's sake, stop saying Shade. Fuck. Do you guys wanna rock? Or do you want to hold your fucking lighters in the air while we play Bon Jovi? 'Cos wait, I know a Bon Jovi riff, just wait." Then the shocked crowd heard the squeal of a Bon Jovi song from Daniel's guitar. "That's from um, Bed Of Roses. We cover that song, as well as various other love classics. Aww, FUCK, stop saying Shaaaade." Then for the first time in I don't know how long, Daniel played the intro to a song he has said time and again he doesn't like. I couldn't believe it, a lot of people were disappointed he didn't play the whole song, but that intro was more than I could ever have hoped for. The intro to Shade was then replaced by the intro to a much more popular song with the band. No Association was awesome and the modified lyrics only made it better ("you say you care, but fuck you"). I don't know if it was intentional or not, but this is where the concert changed in tone. Daniel changed the style of the songs, instead of more "classic" versions of the songs, he started singing in a new "exorcist" style, distorting his vocals and the guitar to give the songs an even heavier tone.
Daniel dedicated the next song to "Watto" (the band's manager, John Watson, who would also like to see them play Shade.) "This is for Watto. This is the closest we have to Shade. 'Cos it is about abuse, another form of abuse." A scorching version of Spawn followed, I think it's better live than on the Spawn soundtrack. Like every band, silverchair have their influences, and I saw some of them in Spawn as well as other songs. However, unlike certain other bands, silverchair absorb these influences and retain their own identity. They use what they've grown up seeing and hearing like someone would use bricks to make a path. Each brick contributes a small part to the path they are walking, a path that leads to anywhere they would like it to go.
After Spawn, the "heaters" that had been lying dormant all night were activated, and the crowd went insane to Freak. This is now one of silverchair's best known songs. It was the second most requested song for this year on the national youth radio station, Triple J, and had one of the biggest reactions in the mosh pit all night. For the last "body and soul" part of the song the band stopped playing, but the crowd kept singing. Daniel whispered along, then the band kicked back in and finished the song, then walked off stage.
After much chanting and cheering for the 'chair, the band walked back onstage to huge applause. Daniel wanted to say a few things before they started Israel's Son. "There's one problem in society today, do you want me to tell you what it is? Social prejudice and hatred... and a belief that Santa Claus is real." The audience laughed and he went on to make some crude but funny jokes about Santa's weight and Mrs. Claus. He was about to start Israel's Son before he remembered there were younger people in the audience, so he reminded the younger kids that he was just joking. "Except wait, if there's any young people in the audience, that was just a joke to look cool to the older crowd. It's not true. Now I'm not fucking joking, I saw a reindeer when I was little. It was nothing to do with Santa but I did see a reindeer. It looked very nice -- it was very sexy."
I had hoped Minor Threat would be on the set list, but Daniel's amusing comments and Israel's Son were more than enough to make up for it. Daniel walked over to Chris and Ben and during the "slow part" of Israel's Son, then messed around with his guitar pedal, and then had hundreds of fans throwing their hands in the air for the finale. He finished the song by doing something I had never seen before, by adjusting the mike stand so the microphone was vertically above his mouth, he bent backwards and put his mouth around the mike. Then he released the mike from the clamp while holding it straight up in his mouth until it slid out and onto the stage.
Then came the big finale, the part no one was expecting unless they had been to or heard about earlier shows. While Daniel messed around with feedback from his guitar, the stage crew brought out the tom drums Ben would use for the Freak remix. This was an awesome way to finish the show, something completely new and original. Daniel is uninhibited by the guitar and is free to run and climb and jump like a man possessed. There's no way to explain how he sings the Freak remix; parts of his singing are similar to the recorded version, but most of it is improvised, screamed and moaned in his "exorcist" voice. The start of the song alone went something like "Yeargh!! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Fuck yeah!! Ahhhrrrrgh!!" I wish everyone could see the Freak remix, Ben goes completely insane on the toms, Chris thrashes away, and Daniel is lyrically, physically and literally everywhere. Jumping up on the speaker stack, behind Ben's drum kit, over next to Chris, running around like he owns the place. How can anyone top the image of Daniel strutting around singing "body and soul, SUCK MY DICK, SUCK MY DICK".
By that time I had made it to about the third row, trying to get as close as I could to the action. Then something totally awesome happened that I could never imagined: Daniel jumped down into the area between the stage and barrier, singing/screaming while hands from everywhere reached out to try and touch him. It was amazing, no one even dreamed that he would do this, and there he was, literally in front of everyone. He was down there for the last half minute of the song, the crowd was going wild and then he jumped back onto the stage and walked off after Ben, concluding the most amazing and enjoyable concert I have ever been to.
I had high expectations for this silverchair show, and they fulfilled everything I had hoped for and a LOT more, which says a lot about the band and their production team. I couldn't have asked for anything else from a concert from any band. I saw Tool play in February in a concert that was widely regarded as the best Canberra had seen in years. On Wednesday night silverchair were better, a lot better. Whatever they decide to do next as a band, I can't wait to see it.