Rosemount Hotel, North Perth, WA
April 24th, 2017
New York’s alternative metal and perhaps one of the first post-hardcore bands from that era (early ’90s), Helmet, returned to Perth Monday night kicking off their Australian tour at the recently redeveloped Rosemount Hotel. It was a night to behold as the band blended it’s past and present with two thunderous sets. No supports, no bullshit, just a night of pure rock and noise and the four piece delivered on every level. Playing their 1994, ‘fuck you to the world’ album Betty in it’s entirety as the first set then plowing through a mini best of including several tracks from last year’s new album, Dead to the World, for the second set. Over two hours of Helmet fury and the throng loved every moment.
Whilst not every fans tip as Helmet’s best album, Betty, was all that it was meant to be back in the day. Following on from the commercially more melodic yet still heavy as fuck, Meantime album the band turned their backs on radio execs, labels and fans alike as they stylistically mixed things up on album number 3, toying with jazz, blues and funk whilst still managing some noise level groove such as ‘Milquetoast’. Not quite ‘math-metal’, not quite ‘groove metal’, not quite anything to be honest, the band really mixed things up on this record let alone within each track. It’s a difficult album to play live as musicians, with constant change ups, tempos and distortion, but the band did a stellar job. Simply put – Page Hamilton is legend.
Kicking off with ‘Wilma’s Rainbow’, with no introduction required, and so it would continue that way for the whole album. No pauses, no “Hi, Perth”, this was business, and as 56-year-old front man and lead guitarist Page Hamilton conducted his noise orchestra, the now sardine-like crowd, soaked up every distorted chord and wah-wah effect. ‘I Know’ quickly followed on with Dave Case’s bass bellowing from the stacked amps, and off-sider, Dan Beeman on rhythm guitar replicating Page Hamilton’s killer riffs on one of the more heavier tracks from Betty.
‘Biscuits for Smut’, one of the singles from the album was next, another bass driven more melodic underground sound, Hamilton utilising buzz effects via harmonica microphone. Perhaps the most well-known track from the album followed in ‘Milquetoast’, a track that also featured on the OST ‘The Crow’ and a Triple JJJ favourite from back in the day. The crowd went ape shit and the owners of the Rosemount Hotel perhaps secretly cringing in the background as the mosh pit went all OTT, much to Hamilton’s joy.
Suffice to say, Betty was going off! ‘Rollo’ and ‘Street Crab’ the more heavier riffage had the room heaving, but the interesting bits were to come. The back half of Betty rolled around, where the album goes a little more jazzy, a little funky. The off-beat crazy instrumental of ‘Beautiful Love’, the Primus-like ‘The Silver Hawaiian’ and the concluding and challenging (to hear and play) ‘Sam Hell’. A bizarre album to say the least but a most enjoayble first set.
Finally Hamilton spoke to the crowd at it’s conclusion, “23 years old this album, we thought we had finished with Betty three years ago, but we brought it back for you guys”, and so it was as the the distorted chords from Hamilton’s guitar concluded the set.
Alas, a few swigs by each band member of some Coopers Ale and they cracked straight into their second set which featured a stack of songs from the band’s past and some great new tracks from 2016’s, Dead to the World. Relentless is the best word you would describe the second set. Over an hour straight, again with little to no breaks between songs, punters certainly getting value for money on this performance. Highlights included ‘See You Dead’ from 2004’s Size Matters, ‘I Love My Guru’ and ‘Bad News’ from their recent album and a rollicking version of ‘Pure’, the lead track from 1997’s Aftertaste, in which former Helmet rhythm guitarist, Australian, Jimmy Thompson was welcomed to the stage at Hamilton’s instruction to play with the band for the track.
Good luck finding a setlist for tonight’s show as as stated before, Helmet were relentless this night, from track to track they went, even the encore was 4 songs in length including the much loved, Meantime tracks, ‘In the Meantime’ and probably the most well known and loved track in the Helmet repetoire, ‘Unsung’. A constant unabated attack by a band still thriving on the leadership of Page Hamilton. Special mention goes out to drummer, Kyle Stevenson who was simply amazing all night, and attempting and successfully emulating the brilliance of former Helmet drummer, John Stanier is no easy feat.
A show not to be missed.
Check out the photo gallery by Denis Radacic. Please credit Photographer and Wall of Sound if you use.