HBF Stadium, Mt Claremont WA
March 6th, 2018
Support: The Tea Party
There was a time 20-25 years ago believe it or not that Pennsylvanian band, LIVE were one of, if not, ‘THE’ biggest rock bands in the world. Their 1994 album, Throwing Copper, sold over 8 million records in the U.S alone and produced singles such as, ‘I Alone’, ‘All Over You’ and perhaps, the band’s most recognised song of all time, ‘Lightning Crashes’. They had the sublime vocal talents of frontman, Ed Kowalczyk and a solid support cast and whilst the band never emulated the success of Throwing Copper in the years preceding, the band were still at the forefront of rock across the world culminating in an epic performance at the historic ’99 Woodstock event in front of 400,000 people. We all know this is the re-birth of the band, with Kowalczyk agreeing to a reunion in 2016 following a seven year absence of never ending legal battles and in-fighting and whilst the ‘fill-in’ singer of the time, Chris Shinn, actually turned out to be a stellar replacement (see the review of Live back in 2015 in Perth), he would never quite capture that stage presence that Ed Kowalczyk creates, as evident by his and the band’s performance in Perth Tuesday night.
But before we delve into the live Live experience circa 2018 we checked out the support band for the current tour, Canadians, The Tea Party. No strangers to our shores (frontman, Jeff Martin lives in Byron Bay from memory), the three piece, now 28 years into their existence, despite a not too dissimilar break up to the headline act, commanded the attention of the quickly growing audience at Perth’s HBF Stadium with their unique blend of rock, blues, middle eastern tangents and psychedelia. Let me say, I had not witnessed the immense live presence of this band for a long long time and all I can say, WTF was I thinking! Martin and co were on fire all through their set. From extended solos, to incredibly powerful covers including U2‘s ‘With Or Without You‘ (goosebumps moment of the night) and the Rolling Stones‘, ‘Paint It Black‘, to dual neck guitars and violin bow guitar solos. The Tea Party sure do know how to convert the non believers of their searching rock music.
Lead by the charismatic frontman, Jeff Martin, with his almost Jim Morrison persona and vocals the band ploughed through a host of back catalogue favourites including ‘Psychopomp‘, ‘Heaven Coming Down‘ and their concluding rock belter, ‘Temptation‘. Unfortunately there would be no mid ‘90s Triple J classic, ‘Fire in the Head’, but you can’t get all your wishes! “Have you ever wondered what power feels like”, Martin asks the crowd before jumping into another bludgeoning guitar solo. Striking lyrics, a haunting musical arrangement and powerful vocals, The Tea Party know how to deliver hauntingly unique rock shows and whilst the audience were still clambering into the venue, it was a striking beginning to welcome Live back into the fray.
Nothing too flashy. A big video screen with interchanging themes as a backing, a little smoke, more from Ed Kowalczyk‘s vaporing more than anything on stage and a few flashy lights but the return or as Kowalczyk liked to say repeatedly through the night, “the family or brotherhood” was to be centred on the LIVE performance (pardon the pun).
Hitting the stage with ‘All Over You‘ from 1994’s Throwing Copper, the little stadium in the western suburbs of Perth was bouncing around early, with crowd singing in unison with the chrome domed, Kowalczyk, whose vocals have clearly not diminished over the years. In fact, the 46 year old vocalist was nothing short of amazing, and I don’t say that lightly. His own unique of whiny low and high pitch vocals on point with every hit the band belted out. A few tracks from 1991’s, Mental Jewelry followed; hard to believe this band is now well into their 3rd decade.
The hit singles didn’t stop there. ‘The Dolphin’s Cry‘, ‘Selling the Drama‘, ‘Iris‘, ‘I Alone‘. If you were in the crowd and a LIVE novice it wouldn’t be long before you picked up on these songs that have been blasted out on repeat on radio for the past two decades and if crowd participation was anything to judge an appreciation of a band on stage, then LIVE had nothing to fear as the crowd bellowed out lyric after lyric. On stage, lead guitarist, Chad Taylor with sunglasses on throughout the performance (is he a vampire?) did his best to get the crowd moving with some crushing solos and stamping his feet with the pulsating drum work of Chad Gracey. Accompanying the band as always and ‘slappin da bass’, was the striking figure of Patrick Dahlheimer who plucked away feverishly whilst a few wry grins and nods of appreciation was all it took to show he was enjoying the moments.
The often clichéd encore saw Ed return to stage with acoustic guitar as he waltzed through some Live ballads, ‘Rattlesnake‘, the beautiful and subtle, ‘Heaven‘ and ‘Turn My Head‘, complete with Taylor returning to stage with electric guitar for another searching solo. Following a touching tribute to the late, Chris Cornell with a cover of Audioslave‘s, ‘I Am the Highway‘, the band concluded the night with ‘Lightning Crashes‘, Ed now in full beast mode vocally, stamping or perhaps, “re” stamping himself as one of the great rock voices of the past 30 years.
LIVE may have gone away for a little while, but like Kowalcyzk said, “It doesn’t matter when a song was written. If it’s a good song, who the fuck cares“. LIVE and The Tea Party for that matter may of both gone away for a little while but deserve the adoration of big crowds and following once again. Stellar rock voices such as Martin and Kowalcyzk are rare things these days, cherish it while the love for their fellow band members has returned. You’d be a fool to miss these bands next time they return down under.
All Over You
Operation Spirit (The Tyranny of Tradition)
Pain Lies on the Riverside
The Dolphin’s Cry
Selling the Drama
I Walk the Line (Johnny Cash cover)
Pillar of Davidson
Turn My Head
Run to the Water
I Am the Highway (Audioslave cover)
Review by @plugga73
Photo Gallery by Corey Bell – Please credit Corey Bell and Wall of Sound if you repost.
The Tea Party