Agora Theater - Cleveland, USA

silverchair strike gold at the Agora
The band shows maturity, creativity during its first Cleveland apperance

Rock Writer
Cleveland Plain Dealer

The band silverchair may write its name with a small "s," but it proved bigger than its hype Monday night (December 4) at the Agora Theater in Cleveland.

And that took some doing. This is the trio whose debut album frogstomp entered the charts at No. 1 last year in its native Australia, the first such feat in the country's history. What turned the nation upside down was the fact that the band members were only 15 at the time.

The group, whose album rose to No. 9 on the Billboard charts in the United States, gave a strong, tight show at the Agora, its first appearance in Cleveland. Its concert was better than shows by many musicians twice as old. And that took some doing, too.

The club's sound system was the worst of any on silverchair's American tour so far, the members said afterward. In fact, for the first two songs, silverchair sounded like an acoustic trio. They had been loud and vigorous during sound check. Lead singer-guitarist Daniel Johns said the sound kept bouncing back to the band. He had trouble hearing his own voice.

As far as the crowd was concerned, the concert really began in the middle of Findaway. The club's mosh pit, which is unusually large, seemed to throb as one. And that was something to see. This crowd was a sold-out crowd of 1,800.

Then came the heavy radio hit, Suicidal Dream. It started softly, Johns' voice growing increasingly loud and clear as the song progressed. The band did its first single Tomorrow (which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart) as the fifth song. That's the one that won the three high schoolers a nationwide demo competition in June 1994. The contest's sponsor, Australian radio network Triple J aired the demo before it was recorded on frogstomp. The song went platinum in Australia in a weak. Chris Joannou's strong bass and Ben Gillies' powerful drums drove the song as well.

One of the attractive qualities at the show was singer Johns' quiet but confident manner. No attitude, no showboating, just a complete love of the songs and a chance to play. He slapped on a knitted hat tossed up on stage. But he had humor,too. He introduced the instrumental Madman as a "story about a dog and cat having sex."

The trio's songs are not only about youth traumas, as you would expect from 16-year-olds, but about the world's, as in the story-song about an earthquake in their hometown of Newcastle (Faultline) and war (Pure Massacre).The latter had riveting changes of a pace, with piercing screams symbolizing people dying "for no reason at all."

The finale, Israel's Son, is too monumental not to be the next single. It's a drama in itself, a story of an execution. The song pace got faster, winding up in dissonant sounds.

The band was originally booked to open for the Red Hot Chili Peppers at Gund Arena Nov. 26, but that show was cancelled because of Peppers drummer Chad Smith's broken wrist. The creativity and the commitment demonstrated by silverchair should keep the band around for the long haul.

[Thanks to Jen Langman for providing a transcript of this article.]