Badlands, Perth WA
April 7th, 2017
Support – Caligula’s Horse
Making the trip across the Nullabor in support of sleepmakeswaves, the boys from Caligula’s Horse remembered to bring new guitarist Adrian Goleby, yet somehow left behind Jim Grey’s beard. The clean-shaven frontman took to centre stage, save for a rather jaunty moustache. It took a couple of takes but as soon as he opened his mouth there was no doubt we were in the right place. Grey’s incredible vocal ability is unmistakable. His voice is, in short, beautiful, soaring high into his upper register to a place where mere mortals can only dream of reaching.
Early equipment failure gave Grey a chance to explain why he looked like a demented Freddie Mercury. The usual mantra is that what happens on tour stays on tour, but rules are rules. Rule #1: lose your Access All Areas pass, you lose the beard and sport a moustache!
Good humour and jokes gave way to what Caligula’s Horse does best, playing (in their words) fruity Prog Rock. The band tore through a scintillating set of favourites, including the sublime ‘Firelight‘ and the quite brilliant ‘The City Has No Empathy‘. A surprise came in the shape of new song ‘Cannon’s Mouth‘, and considering very few punters would have heard it before tonight it was an instant hit with the crowd.
It’d be hard for any band to follow Jim Grey’s vocal performance, but prog-instrumentalists sleepmakeswaves don’t have to. The Sydney four-piece hit the Badlands stage with a dreamy intro which floated along until the guitars hit with an absolute sonic battery and front and centre, sleepmakeswaves had arrived. The volume alone was enough to make the punters packed into the room take a collective step back and then in unison, roar back and surge stagewards.
Combining ambient electronic samples with heavy as fuck guitars, the band effortlessly transitioned between Moog-like samples to the guitar brutality of Motörhead. It’s a rare talent that can captivate an audience with purely instrumental tracks, and sleepmakeswaves have that talent in spades. Post rock, ambient noise, instrumental prog: trying to pigeonhole these four maniacs is an exercise in futility and ultimately, unimportant. Bouncing, thrashing and head-banging around the stage, the Sydney four piece brought the goods in the form of drum, bass and guitar laden heavy metal dreamscapes.
The lack of vocals didn’t stop the band from sharing their gratitude for the turnout and energy in the room, and the boys were obviously genuinely moved by the reception Perth gave them. Badlands punters were in rare form, lapping up the set and with a certified mosh pit forming in front of the stage.
It was hard not to get swept away in the pure sonic energy of the night so my advice is don’t. Resistance is futile. Prog rock is alive and well, and there’s few in Australia who do it better than sleepmakeswaves.
Reviewed by Gareth Williams (@notgareth)
Photo Gallery by Josh Ludlow. Please credit Wall of Sound and Photographer if you use published photos.