Max & Iggor Cavalera Return To Roots
The Big Top, Sydney NSW
September 22nd, 2017
The last time I saw these two brothers play Sepultura songs was in 1994 at the Hordern Pavilion in support of Chaos AD; with Sacred Reich in support nonetheless. This was an amazing show and it captured the band at the top of their game. A few years later, they released Roots. Not only was this an amazing heavy metal album, it was a ground breaking album. The band synthesised their chaotic and thought provoking heavy sound with traditional instruments and historical and literary themes from their native South America. From the opening track of ‘Roots Bloody Roots‘ it was classic track after classic track, and they were instant classics; this album didn’t need time to mature. It was such a game changer, and such an iconic album that stands even more proud today. It is hard to believe that this would be the last album that the classic Sepultura line-up would make.
The soul of Both Max and Iggor is intrinsic throughout this whole album and it is a real privilege to be witnessing these brothers playing this material some twenty years after its release. It was an interesting crowd tonight, obviously a lot of the old school, but also so many younger metal heads and a number of punters who really didn’t even look like metal heads. I wouldn’t saying that tonight was a sell-out but it must have been close.
Opening act Skindred, on the surface, seem to be a bad fit, but on closer inspection, or for those who are familiar with their material, they are an excellent fit. They reign from Wales and are a hybrid metal band with thrashy hard core overtones, mixed with reggae, jazz and prog. Let’s remember, the ground breaking Roots album was also a crossover release as well, in its own right. These guys have actually been on the scene for some time, with their debut being released in 2002 Babylon. They hit the stage with real purpose tonight but I don’t think that there were too many punters who were familiar with them. This was the first time that I had ever seen them and I have to say, after all that I have said in my introduction, they actually didn’t fit. The lead vocalist did his utmost to win over the crowd, and in many ways he seemed to have done this. However, after a number of tracks the singers banter became too much and the songs really did not resonate with me at all. The set really didn’t flow that well either, the constant interludes of banter and the singer crooning along to mini sample tracks really inhibited the bands set in my opinion. Skindred are a very tight band who can play, and who enjoy what they do, but for me, it became quite quickly a wall of noise woven together with dialogue and sampling. Despite my thoughts and opinion, there was a definite percentage of the audience who got in to it!
There was a lot of anticipation in the audience tonight between Skindred’s and Max & Iggor’s sets. The crowd had definitely turned up to see something special on the back of this iconic album and everyone was pumped. As the lights dimmed, the energy on the floor increased. The band hit the stage with the obvious opener, ‘Roots Bloody Roots‘, and immediately had the place pumping. As each song from the Roots album in particular escaped the PA, the crowd lapped it up. The actual initial reaction from the crowd, when Iggor and Max first appeared, was as if it was a home coming, people were very excited to see them.
The band were very tight and Iggor in particular was amazing. Max seemed very happy to be here, but some of his enthusiasm was amiss, particularly in the vocal department, where he just didn’t seem to hit the mark. I remember seeing him for the first time on Third World Posse Tour in 1992, again at the Hordern Pavilion, and he blew me away then, just as he did on the Chaos AD tour, but tonight he didn’t do that again for me.
On the back of the Roots album, however, songs such as ‘Ratamahatta‘, ‘Cut-Throat‘, ‘Spit‘, ‘Attitude‘ and ‘Born Stubborn‘, were great to hear live and went over extremely well. On reflection, and processing the band’s sound tonight and acknowledging how tight an outfit the band was, what stood out for me was the absent guitar sound of Andreas Kisser. The main guitarist, despite his proficiency, seemed to have lacked the flare and depth of Andeas’ sound. The set brought home to me just how important he is to the sound and intensity of Sepultura’s material. Dave Mclean from Machinehead was in the house tonight and he got up and did a little cameo piece alongside Iggor and this was great.
The main set actually drew to a close quite quickly tonight, and this is testament to the strength of the material and despite some of my reflections I did enjoy the show. For an extended encore Max and Iggor played together for a number of tracks without the rest of the band, one of which was a medley of ‘Beneath the Remains‘ / ‘Desperate Cry‘ / ‘Orgasmatron‘ / ‘Polícia‘. I would have loved to hear the first two as separate tracks and with a full band, I don’t think this did the songs justice. Unfortunately the encore fell into a bit of a cabaret feel, as a tribute, rather than the band actually playing the songs and honouring them as they have stood for so many years. The band then played ‘Venom Black Metal‘, as Max shared with the crowd his early influences, followed by Motorhead’s ‘Ace of Spades‘, and then a final resurgence of a fast ‘Roots Bloody Roots‘. I didn’t really get the point of the covers considering the strength of the bands back catalogue, but this was not necessarily the collective thoughts of the crowd as they lapped it up!
Please don’t get me wrong, it was a real buzz to see these two brothers playing these songs, but I can’t stop thinking how amazing it would have been if Andreas and Paulo Jr were on the stage playing these tracks as well, the way they were written and originally arranged. Let’s hope a reunion will be possible in the future, despite their seeming to be no real chance at the immediate time. This was a watershed evening, an amazing set in support of an iconic album that has stood the test of time, even if the performance at times, failed to hit the mark.
Gig Review by Mark Snedden
Revisit Max Cavalera‘s co-hosting duties on our Wall of Sound: Up Against The Wall podcast here
Photo Gallery courtesy of the legendary Mick Goddard (MickG Photography)
Please credit Wall of Sound and Mick Goddard if you repost.
Max & Iggor Cavalera
Max & Iggor Cavalera Present – Roots 20th Anniversary Australian Tour
Sunday 24 Sept @ HQ, rAdelaide
Tues 26 Sept @ Astor Theatre, Perth