HBF Stadium, Mt.Claremont, WA
November 9th, 2016
Support – Twelve Foot Ninja
Five years ago I witnessed Disturbed play at the now defunct Burswood Dome in Perth. It was a schmozzle. It sucked. The band were just going through the motions, the sound was terrible, front man David Draiman looked over weight, unenthused and the band followed in sync. A year later Disturbed went into a 2-and-a-half-year hiatus, as if sensing the moment had arrived. I feared I’d never see the band at its peak again.
Fast forward 2016 and holy fuck! It was as if I was seeing a new band. Draiman nailed, and I mean nailed every single song, his vocals soaring. It’s not often you attend a show and get goose bumps in the first few songs, but the sound from the HBF Stadium confines was just superb and combined with an energetic crowd, just made the night one to remember. Haters will hate but the Simon and Garfunkel ‘The Sound of Silence’ cover seems to have returned Draiman’s enthusiasm for the crowd, for the moment, for his vocals and most importantly for the band. I’ll admit I was taken aback with why they went this path when I first heard the track but to be honest it was spine tingling hearing the track live and with the Perth crowd, the loudest I’d heard in 2016 (including Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath!) on what was the first leg of this Australian ‘Immortalized’ tour, it was one hell of a starting point for this tour.
But first things first, it was Mebourne’s Twelve Foot Ninja to kick off proceedings. The quintet recently released their superb new album Outlier and with a massive back drop of the album cover in the background, the black clad ninjas took to the stage and powered through a mini ‘best of’ collection that had the crowd jumping around in appreciation. ‘Kingdom’ from 2012’s Silent Machine was first, the djent heavy, the sound crisp and front man, Kin Etik doing what Kin does best – wavering from manic to croon all whilst jumping around, hair flaying, to amp the crowd. This was the biggest audience I’ve seen TFN perform too in Perth, and whilst a few of the ‘Triple MMM attendee’s’ in the crowd were a little perplexed by the mish mash of metal jazz funk, the majority of punters soaked up the tunes.
New tracks, ‘Post Mortem’ and ‘Monsoon’, the latter with its stunning Indian tumbi intro by guitarist, Stevic MacKay simply slayed. These new songs on Outlier are just dying to be played on the big stage, so if you’re planning on seeing Disturbed this tour, do not miss TFN in support, they are incredible performers and a stunning band to witness live.
So, amidst the back drop of the ‘bizarro world’ day when Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, Chicago’s Disturbed hit the stage. And they hit it hard! As if charged with anger from the day’s political proceedings the band slipped straight into their self-titled charger, ‘Immortalized’. Queue crowd going off, as the stage literally ignited with 10-20 foot flames rising from all corners in a pyro technic’s wet dream. I could feel my face singe from the heat and I was situated in the stands. So, metal.
Again, Draiman commanded everything, his vocals simply stunning, a far cry from the 2011 performance I had witnessed. Guitarist Dan Donegan, basically stationary in that same performance was clearly invigorated from the Disturbed hiatus, ripping into each chord with venom and bouncing around as if it were 1996. Bassist, John Moyer with his long dread locks plucked away feverishly on his side of stage and along with drummer, Mike Wengren provided the back bone to what was a devastatingly and surprisingly succinct Disturbed.
“Tell me exactly what am I supposed to do….”, Draiman sings as ‘The Game’ enters the setlist. By now, the crowd singing in unison with a loud roar throughout prompting more nods of approval from our pierced bald front man. Into ‘The Vengeful One’ with Donegan taking front of stage for ‘that riff’…. wow, ‘that riff’, again the crowd lapping it up. There was very little time for reflection or social comment from the band for the whole night with Draiman offering little interaction with the Perth crowd, besides a sly remark about a certain ‘conniving, thieving promoter’, a clear dig at Soundwave Festival and our fedora wearing friend. It seems saying nothing about the political issues in their home land was, in hindsight, a good move, the less said about Trump….the better.
The band plowed through a few older tracks from 2002’s Believe album including, ‘Prayer’, ‘Liberate’ and ‘Remember’, the latter a track that had the Disturbed faithful in raptures as it was one not expected. ‘Stupify’, returned the heaviness as Draiman implored fans to sing along, the nu-metal bass lines thundering around the venue as Donegan and Moyer traded sides of stage wielding their instruments like gymnastic sticks.
With the majority of the ‘floor crowd’ now drenched in each other’s sweat, Disturbed walked off stage for a slight interlude as more instruments and musicians set the stage for what would be that ‘Triple MMM’ crowd, cigarette lighter moment. ‘Darkness’ was first, another track from Believe, Draiman’s passionate vocal encapsulating the beautiful lyrics. Then ‘The Sound of Silence’ reared its head, and I’ll be honest, it was kind of a Guy Sebastian Australian Idol moment when Draiman hit those empowered notes lifting the song from its mellow tease to its stunning conclusion. Is it metal? No. But it was jaw dropping nevertheless and who knew that Draiman could reach those heights, so good luck to him.
‘Inside the Fire’ returned the band to ‘metal’ Disturbed as the 20 foot flames kicked in again across the stage before ‘The Light’ from Immortalized called for more crowd participation with thousands of lighters and mobile phones going up during the chorus. Sounds pretty lame, but to be honest it was cool to watch from my vantage.
The obligatory encore was prolonged but the Perth crowd as I said previously, were at its loudest and when the chant for ‘Disturbed’ fell on deaf ears they resorted to heavy clapping and simply banging feet of the floors of the stadium which reached a clamorous exclamation across the venue. Sure, enough, the band filtered back onto the stage to more raucous yelling and applause and ripped into ‘Voices’ and ‘Ten Thousand Fists’ as, you guessed it, thousand of fists raised as one throughout the chorus. Again, sounds corny, but it was cool as fuck to watch.
The band concluded with ‘Down with the Sickness’, the band’s undoubtedly most cherished and loved track and the whole stadium was bouncing around as if they too had some of this new-found energy Disturbed had uncovered since its hiatus.
Amongst the ‘corny’, the ‘clichéd’, the ‘radio songs’, Disturbed delivered one hell of a rock show. I went to the show not expecting much but wow, was I wrong. I never thought I’d be saying Disturbed was ‘the’ show of 2016 for me…. but I just did. DO NOT MISS.
Review – James Birkin
Twelve Foot Ninja
Coming For You
One Hand Killing
The Eye of the Storm
The Vengeful One
The Sound of Silence (Simon & Garfunkel cover)
Inside the Fire
The Lane of Confusion (Genesis cover)
Ten Thousand Fists
Down With the Sickness
Capturing the night was Emanuel Rudnicki, his awesome gallery is below – simply click on an image to enlarge.
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TWELVE FOOT NINJA