16-10-2007

Westpac Arena - Christchurch, New Zealand

By SIMZY 

ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE - CROSSES THE DITCH!
 
Well, I have been a huge fan of Silverchair since they exploded onto the scene in '95, however, at the age of 25, I was yet to see them live... Until now!
 
Here's my amazing experience!
 
CHRISTCHURCH - Westpac Trust Stadium, 16th October 2007.
 
Kiwi act OpShop opened tonight which was expected to be a little below par to support 2 bands of such calibre. I have to accept defeat on this one as they absolutley brought the house down with a bang! They played all of their hits including the new singles "Maybe" and "Waiting Now". The lead vocalist was pitch perfect and the sound these four generated was as accurate as you would hear on their albums. A great way to start the night off!
 
After an annoying 25 minute wait, the lights dropped and the eerie harmonica instrumental piece (was this Supertramp?) bellowed out from the P.A. By now, the floor had really filled out and the crowd were ready to be rocked!

On came Bernard and the boys from Powderfinger who ripped into the first track off the new album "Head Up In The Clouds" . They also cranked hard on "My Kinda Scene", "My Happiness" and "On My Mind", "Lost And Running", "I Don't Remember" and a beautifully crafted acoustic version of "Sunsets" which for this punter, was the highlight. They played a great set which fans have said was a tasty sample from their four albums.
 
I have to admit, I was not a big Powderfinger fan until seeing them live. They truly played us and I shall go and buy all of their albums as soon as I can!
 
The only let down on this part of the show was that the sound needed some tweaking. The guitars were overly gained and at times the vocals were either inaudible or peaking out with a tinny sound. Having studied up, this could well be the "once more" average to fair quality of this stadium. It has had mixed reviews in the past but it tends to not fare so well with big rock.
 
The crowd was enthusiastic and energetic as Bernard dedicated songs to Doug Howlett saying: "As a rock band we strive to achieve bar tabs of that magnitude (in reference to the All Blacks world cup $33,000 hotel tab). That's a shitload of piss!". He also thanked those in the upper bowl seats for coming. They were empty. The crowd was light but enthusiastic and I got the feeling that both bands really appreciated that their fans seem to be of the persuasion to make twice as much noise as any others!
 
On estimate, I'd say the show had an average attendance of 2,500. I didn't care though. I was seated in a great vantage point taking in every moment of my first Silverchair experience. The lights went up, the anticipation grew, then we arrived at Young Modern Station!
 
The opening theatrics of the lights and sound was brilliant. It got me pumped and excited as the boys came out and tore the shit out of "Young Modern Station". Daniel was fit and nimble, moving around excited and tearing away on the guitar whilst Ben and Chris were rocking hard with him. I couldn't contain my excitement and sang along solo as not many in the audience had come for these tunes. As far as I was concerned, if it was a Silverchair song, it was worth singing about!
 
Daniel was very talkative throughout the set, always stopping to comment on random things. At one point he told us he had been to the casino the night before and won $80. He was stoked because he hadn't lost any money and described it as an average performance which is what he said: "We as a band strive for. Just above average!". Other comments involved the Doug Howlett fiasco, the fact that the All Blacks and the Wallabies were no-where to be seen in the World Cup and that he was genuinely enjoying being in Christchurch and New Zealand.
 
He oozed rock star charisma throughout and treated us to some amazing guitar work. As a fan I appreciated hearing solos and improvisations that were unique to the night which I only realised after seeing the other shows in Wellington and Auckland. Something a little different goes a long way!
 
The setlist was as follows:
 
1. Young Modern Station - Pure Adrenalin.
2. Emotion Sickness - Stunning 15 minute version with solo's and vocal theatrics. Major highlight!
3. Israel's Son - Just crank! Got the pit moving.
4. Reflections Of A Sound - Better than I thought it would be live!
5. Insomnia - Again, a dissappointing choice but it really rocked hard! Daniel drew maximum crowd participation for this one!
6. Ana's Song (Open Fire) - Aching and beautiful with new vocal twists. One of the highlights.
7. The Greatest View - Rocked hard.  forgotten classic.
8. Straight Lines - New fans entered around this time so it really got busy in the pit. Daniel asking us to "Make me feel famous!" by singing the chorus first up!
9. The Door - This just pumped. Nothing else to say. Awesome. Better than Rock In Rio.
10. Mind Reader - Great extended intro and long guitar solo but the chorus lacked something. Probably layered guitars I think.
11. If You Keep Losing Sleep - Current radio favourite here in Enzed, so it naturally got everyone moving. Love this live!
12. Freak (as an encore) - Outstanding. The old heads just went ballistic. Daniel solo'd on the speaker, by Ben, on his back, behind his head and more. A fantsastic yet, predictable way to finish a great set.
 
As a long time fan of all the albums, I felt there was a good balance of tunes here. Obviously with a new album out, you are gonna stack it with tunes from that new cut. Having been depraved of Silverchair for so long, I did hope that NZ might be treated to some tunes that have dropped off the setlists of the A.T.G.D tour. "Miss You Love", "Without You" and  "Anthem For The Year 2000" were being mentioned after the show and fans who obviously havn't tuned in for a long time were baffled as to why they didn't play "Tomorrow". A note to them, do some research, lads!
 
We were treated to a real rock star tonight. Daniel strutted with coinfidence and flair. He seemed to have a relaxed air about him that was a bit refreshing. Perhaps the bar was not so high for him in little old NZ. Nonetheless, we appreciated every second of his persona and genius as we did the grooves provided by Ben and Chris and Paul Mac (who was introduced to us on 7 occassions!). Overall, the most outstanding feature of the show was Mr. Johns vocal ability. His register and control were simply sublime. It is hard to believe what we saw when he performed with laryngitis a few months ago. You could not put the two together! He truly is at his best! It would be amazing to see what he could achieve with some of his older songs in the studio today!
 
We got the fabled Koala joke, complete with musical effect and the annoying "Scream for me 1 time...3 time...2 time...5 time now 1 slow, sensual time". This was the low for me. Just boring and hard on the vocals chords!
 
My only other gripe from this show is the amount of time Daniel spent mucking around with his pedals. We know he's clever, and as a guitarist, I really enjoy seeing him exploring sonic sound, but the average concert goer does not, and I can't help but think that we could have been treated to 3 or 4 more songs in place of this expression.
 
In the end, the show was amazing. I was left buzzing and sweaty. My friends all thought it kicked ass and many have found a new groove in the new songs which, afterall, is why bands tour. A resounding success first up!