Festival Hall - Brisbane, Australia
Despite technical glitches involving Chris Joannou's bass amplifier and Daniel Johns' microphone, silverchair's first visit to Brisbane in nearly a year and a half was a memorable one for an appreciative crowd.
One of the highlights of the show at Festival Hall was a rare appearance by drummer Ben Gillies on vocals.
"At one point, Chris' bass crapped out, so to kill time, Daniel played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Ben 'sang' it," said the band's manager, John Watson.
Vocalist/guitarist Johns also treated the crowd to a bit of Heroin Girl, a hit in Australia for the U.S. band Everclear, which opened for silverchair on most of the dates on their recent tour.
sang the first verse of Pure Massacre, one of the singles
from the band's debut album frogstomp.
By OLLY SHARWOOD
What started out as a normal week turned into something a very long way out of the ordinary. Friday rolled around, the day was a little gloomy and overcast, but the sun eventually came out, as it always does in Queensland, the sunshine state of Australia.
Friday the 4th of October, silverchair is IN BRISBANE, for the first time since May '95 and I just wanna see them. My bank balance, credit card and overdue loan payment tell me otherwise -- there is NO way I can go and see them at all. To console me, I put on Frogstomp loud, on random play. With no one else home, I just turned it waaaaay up, logged on to the net, checked my mail, read some posts and some Melbourne show reviews. Somewhere in the middle, I had to stop for a few minutes, as Madman made me mosh hard, on my own. But hell, I didn't stop moshing for the whole song. I had to sit and calm down a bit, as my head was spinning quite heavily. It felt good to let go of the anger that I wasn't going to see them... the CD started on Israel's Son, and finished on Pure Massacre around 3:45 p.m. It dawned on me to go down to Festival Hall in the city, and see if I could catch a glimpse of the band.
Already, at 4:15 p.m., and there were about 50 teenagers, mostly girls, waiting around the various entrances to the stadium (these would be on the rail in the mosh pit). I went to the stage door and hung around for a few minutes, listening to Bodyjar doing their soundcheck. While I was waiting, I shook off my inhibitions and asked the security guard for the whereabouts of Susan Robertson, the band's marketing/promotions manager with murmur, someone I've chatted to on and off for the past year. It took several explanations of who she was, and who I was, to the dumbfounded guy before he said, "Ask these guys," as a few older official guys walked in. I have a feeling one was John Watson, but I don't know what he looks like.
One said, "Here she is," and sure enough she was walking up the ramp to the door with a pile of envelopes in her hand. We briefly said hi, how's it going, before she had to take the envelopes off to the ticket office. When she got back, we had a slightly longer chat (five minutes) and out of this, it was clear she would have liked to, but was unable to allow me to enter any further. It wasn't her authority to do so. However, she did offer me some free tickets, and told me to come back after the gig! That was enough! My heart was racing. She was very busy, as the 'chair were about to start their soundcheck. I had my trusty tape recorder in case I could go in and tape the soundcheck, but alas, it was now closing in on 5 p.m. and I had to get to work by 5:45. Damn Pizza Hut! But it didn't matter -- I was now happy, complete, so fucking excited -- too excited to comprehend that the tickets were in the second row of seats!
I got to the car and rushed as fast I could to gasp out the news to my friend Annie: "We're going to see silverchair!" I rushed around at work, almost having accidents, stereo pumping (I drive for work), I couldn't wait to finish. I left at 8 p.m. and picked up Annie. We got into the city around 8:45 p.m. Neither of us had eaten, so we headed to Johnny Rockets for an American feast. We cruised off to Festival Hall at 9:15 p.m., sat down, had a cigarette, and took in the view -- WOW! Susie, you are the best! Here we were, second row of seats, right in front of the stage, on the balcony above the huge floor area mosh pit, about 25 metres from the back -- and no screaming people around us. Right on 9:30 p.m., the lights dimmed, three shadows emerged, a few chords and flashes of light, and silverchair rocked into Leave Me Out. The mosh was going hard, and there were several crowdsurfers. The lighting display was brilliant, matching the heavy beat and slow parts of the song, and didn't let up the whole show. Fifteen minutes and three more tracks later (without stopping), I looked to the side of stage and spotted Susie with a Handycam video recorder.
During Slave, the second track, things started going astray for Chris. Every so often he was over by his amp, trying to adjust it. During these four songs, there was non-stop moshing and screaming. The crowdsurfers were being pulled out by security and taken outside to the sin bin to calm down for a song before they were let back in. It didn't matter -- they kept on surfing the whole show.
Findaway followed, and then Freak... how could the mosh possibly stop during those! Especially not with Daniel and Chris running and jumping all around the stage encouraging them! After this, Daniel thanked the crowd for coming, and told them to just keep rocking, and doing whatever they were doing. He then let everyone know the next song was not new, and started into Suicidal Dream. It was just a brilliant version of the song, and was slower, and distinctly lacking in the bass, which was not Chris's fault. It sounded very much like an acoustic version; it was very cool!
Chris and Ben then walked off the stage, and Daniel said they were going to get a drink, and he'd play a new song 'til they got back. In the spotlight, he worked his way through Cemetery with some amazing solo pieces of guitar music in the middle. It was brilliant, quiet and reflective... and KICK ARSE! Ben and Chris made their way back, and Daniel introduced the next song as a pop song for rejects. The mosh never let up during this song either, and it rocked the house down, particularly with bass on only half the song. Without a single break in notes, they continued into Tomorrow. The lighters went up initially, until the chorus mosh set in, and the crowd went crazy. Between singing, moshing, lights, jumping on stage, and guitar bits, the house came down during it. After the verses, there was some brilliant playing in between choruses to the end. What impressed me so much was the professionalism shown in this track. Though they have attempted to play down the song, only seeming to play it because "they have to" and "it's expected", tonight, they had matured and changed -- they just played it out and seemed to really enjoy it, as did the crowd.
By this stage Chris's bass amp was stuffed. During Pop Song, and Tomorrow, there was a sound guy out by the amp the whole time. This created a memorable break in the show, as Daniel and Ben decided to wait for Chris to get it right before going on. Daniel gave the floor to Ben to pound out some drums, and Daniel started to sing, "Everybody in the house, yeah yeah yeah." This finished, and Daniel said, "We're Everclear" and started to play a bit of Heroin Girl. Chris still wasn't ready, so Daniel proclaimed a "sing along" and Ben suggested Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Daniel couldn't hear him so he screamed into the mike "Twinkle twinkle little star! Twinkle twinkle fucking little star!" Daniel didn't understand still, so Ben threw his sticks at him and jumped down from his kit, and told him in his ear. He went back up and they played it -- it was soooo funny. It ended with Ben down with Daniel, singing as well, and Daniel proclaiming, "Yeah, rock and roll!" It was fucking unbelievable! (However, let's hope Ben never sings on future songs!)
After a minute more of Daniel talking to the crowd, he then went, "Sixty-nine pounds of glory -- Ben Gillies!" and Ben bashed the drums as loud as he possible could.
Well, Chris was sorta ready by now but he wasn't totally convinced about five minutes later. They rocked into Madman and Daniel and Chris ran around the stage as fast as they could, jumping and headbanging. The mosh did not stop at any point, and the balcony crowd too started to mosh. This song will never be dropped from setlists -- ever. They then went into The Door, and even though no one in the crowd really knew it, they stopped and listened, moshed a bit, grooved a bit, and it ended with a very good impression on everyone. They'll mosh in this the next time they hear it, for sure!
Chris' bass amp had stuffed up again, but it was then fixed, and Daniel said the microphone kept stuffing up too. Then the highlight of the night for me: Faultline. It was introduced as follows: "This next song is an old song, it's for old people, over the age of six, and for people under the age of six." It was the most awesome version of this song that I had ever heard. It started slow, Daniel getting into it, everyone was still quiet from The Door. The first chorus was a semi-mosh. The second verse was reflective and spot on, building up to the second mosh, and a great mosh., then the great musical bit in the middle, with half moshing, half grooving, then the sudden stop and the rushed, hectic mosh to the final verse, and then they rocked out a series of notes, whilst jumping and running, finishing it, then slowly starting it and creating a second wave of moshing as Daniel screamed, "Fuck you," extending the song another minute.
With that, the band paused for a bit. Daniel told the crowd to "keep rocking" and they launched into Pure Massacre, as slowly as possible, with the crowd singing the first verse along with Daniel. They started the music, and the song was a second highlight, with its power in drumming, bass and lyrics keeping the crowd moshing for the entire song, except when Daniel stops, as is customary, to scream the last verse: "No one hears a sound..." At this point I was sorry for anyone in the mosh, and glad I chose seats instead of mosh tickets. They launched into Israel's Son -- the start indicated this was an awesome version, the initial lead-in bass notes featuring cool distortion and twangs, and even though it didn't have the long section of mosh music in the middle, like at their earlier '95 shows, it was just as good, with a extended, hyperactive finish that sent the mosh crazy, and a massive number of hands going up at several points, with much screaming to go with them.
The crowd went crazy as they promptly left the stage. The chant went up -- "silverchair, silverchair, silverchair... encore, encore, encore..." The crowd waited for about three minutes before the lights went out completely and the band came back out, Daniel saying, "We're back, we're going to play a punk song, we're not a punk band but we're going to play it anyway 'cos it's fun... ready? Scream as loud as you can if you're ready!" They then played a cool cover song [Fix Me by Black Flag]. It was very difficult to understand, being punk and all! Daniel then asked, "Does anyone own a surfboard?" Remember, Brisbane is a city which is one hour away from the Gold Coast to the south and the Sunshine Coast to the north, which are both world-known surfing locations. "Does anyone here go to the beach? Does anyone here swim in the water? If you do any of those things, you shouldn't shit or piss in the water. It sucks. The next song is a surfing song, for all the surfing people." Daniel then screamed out Surfin' Bird and the mosh went crazy for the length of it, even though it was only about a minute long. After this, Daniel said, "The next song we wrote one time with Black Sabbath 'coz we're friends with them, well, not really, but we wish we were, if we were, we woulda wrote this song. This song is called Paranoid. This is the last song and it rocks, so rock!" They launched into a perfect cover of the song, and it did rock -- the mosh went crazy, the seats rocked, the band ran everywhere, Daniel almost smashed his guitar, but put it down and left a chord playing. Chris almost threw his bass into the crowd, then almost smashed it. Ben knocked his entire kit off his raised platform. Daniel jumped off it onto the bass drum, then he and Ben ran around the stage with cymbals and stands, tempting the crowd by faking to throw them into it, and then at each other. Ben kicked a stuffed toy -- a "surfin' bird" -- into the middle of the mosh, then screamed into the microphone, "Twinkle twinkle little star," and the band left. It was the funniest site I've ever seen at a show, until the next day.