Max Watts, Melbourne VIC
October 11th, 2019
Supports: Hardcore Superstar and Bad Moon Born
Melbourne wasn’t prepared for the rock n roll onslaught featuring Buckcherry, Hardcore Superstar and Bad Moon Born, but we were so we headed in to kick off the festivities early. Up first tonight were Sydney siders Bad Moon Born who have been on my radar since their first EP Chemical Lullabies. Their unique style of rock n roll struck a chord with me instantly. Earlier this year I saw them live for the first time and was blown away, this time around there was something different about the band. Since I last saw them in April, original frontman Frank Lakoudis departed the band and filling his huge vocal shoes is Jordan Von Grae who Sydney locals will know from Kvults of Vice. Was I apprehensive about how he would handle vocal duties? Perhaps a little! From the moment Bad Moon Born took the stage and the spotlight shone on Jordan and all doubts were removed. Jordon is the missing link to this band; now this is not taking anything away from Frank and his contribution, but Jordon is the consummate frontman; energetic, engaging and a vocal powerhouse. From the very first scream in ‘Promised Land’ all doubts were put to rest. Musically the band was on point Voya’s super tasty licks and solos were perfectly complimented by Ned who scorched his way through the set. The rhythm section of Nic and John were tight, dynamic and on point; the engine room was solid. Other than an onslaught of killer songs and energetic performance one of the sets best moments came from Hardcore Superstar’s Jocke Berg who interrupted their set bringing out shots of Jagermeister for the band. You could tell that three shows into the tour, both bands had bonded and fun was the number one thing on their agenda. In all seriousness, Bad Moon Born left me wanting to hear more and chomping at the bit to see them live again soon. If you haven’t seen these guys live, please do it!! If you haven’t heard them, check them out.
A short break between sets saw Hardcore Superstar take the stage and come out all guns blazing. Frontman Jocke Berg darted his way across the stage so quickly initially he was hard to keep track of. Vic Zino was the man of a million faces, pulling every conceivable type of smile and insane faces as he attacked his guitar with so much energy. Opening with ‘Moonshine‘ they just tore the roof off Max Watts. The crowd erupted and fed on the energy radiating from the stage. If you wanted a pure rock n roll party, this was the place to be. ‘Electric Rider‘ started the succession of anthemic sing along songs and the crowd just lapped it up. The Hardcore Superstar set was heavier than I expected from Sweden’s finest and they certainly represented their career well. However, ten songs from their catalogue of ten albums left me wanting more, lots more; hell they could have played for three hours and I wouldn’t have minded a bit. The inclusion of the rarely played ‘Bag on Your Head’ was a treat for super fans. The energy from this show and being in the exact same venue as I was with them in 2008 took me back straight away. This time though I got to share it with my son. To see the way his face lit up was on par with how much fun this was. Everything that I had come to expect from a Hardcore Superstar show was there. From inviting audience members to the stage to share in shots of Jagermeister and sing along with them during ‘Last Call for Alcohol’ the selected few were energetic and embraced the band’s energy on stage. Although it may seem somewhat clichéd the crowd sang with everything they had during ‘You Can’t Kill My Rock N Roll’ and the closing song ‘Above the Law’. From waving hands to stout middle fingers the crowd followed Jocke Berg’s every movement, command and word. The constant smile of bassist Martin Sandvic’s face was a testament to just how much fun they were having tonight. During the closing song ‘Against The Law’ stage manager Tony began his ritual of packing down the stage signaling the band that the party was coming to an end and by stripping the stage so they had no way out. Gradually as the song progressed Adde’s kit was stripped to a snare and set of high hats. Vic Zino had his microphone raised to around 10 foot which required him to climb a ladder and play and sing from atop of it. Martin had his microphone place down so he couldn’t sing. The band were laughing and having a blast during this and the masses were just in awe, singing and smiling. Man that was one hell of a set, it is almost impossible to fathom how Buckcherry could top this; seriously I even doubted the option of this happening myself.
As Buckcherry’s intro tape ran, I was still somewhat dazed from the Hardcore Superstar set and was wondering what could they possibly pull out of the bag to equal what I had just witnessed. Then the opening riff of ‘Head like a Hole’ assaulted my senses and almost made me forget about what I had seen half an hour before. The onslaught continued with back to back tracks from their sophomore record Timebomb. ‘Whiskey in the Morning ‘ was an all-out assault on the senses and when the sheer power of new drummer Francis Ruiz kicked in, he was committed, hungry, possessed, powerful and hit his drums like he never would again. His intensity never wavered, the groove had never been stronger and bass player Kelly Lemieux was nothing short of a madman, energetic, engaging, precise and entertaining. When this guy says he loves playing bass, he truly means it. The engine room was on fire tonight.
Long time member of Buckcherry, Stevie D, seemed relaxed, focused and was having a blast. Clearly with this lineup his guitar playing skills have been able to shine with him taking on all solos and slide guitar duties throughout the night. Rhythm guitarist and new addition to the band Kevin Roetgen was as solid as Malcolm Young and just as cool in his presence (yes I said it!!) and man can he sing. Frontman Josh Todd was his usual king of cool self, mysterious, intense and commanding. ‘Radio Song’ slowed things down a touch and live this song shines, so much so that it made me go back and listen to the album version again, which for me personally is the most skipped track on Warpaint; live it is a masterpiece and in many ways tips its hat to Prince. ‘Lit Up‘ caused the packed house to erupt and sing at the top of their voices which just added to the energy of tonight. From there the gloves were off, nothing was stopping the band tonight. Buckcherry showcased every side of their musical personality; ‘Somebody Fucked with Me’ showed the darker angrier side of the band; ‘Too Drunk to Fuck’ the humorous side; ‘Crazy Bitch’ the sleazy side, ‘Sorry’ the emotive side and ‘Say Fuck It’ just oozed attitude and fun. ‘Sunshine’ and ‘Greed’ were two of the deeper cuts I didn’t expect to hear. The surprise of the night was Buckcherry’s cover of Kenny Logins’ ‘Footloose’ which midway through kicked off ‘Crazy Bitch’. Not only did this throw the packed Max Watts into a frenzy but it also featured an impromptu jam on ‘Proud Mary’. After a short break, Buckcherry returned to the stage for one more song. ‘Say Fuck It’, the band’s own license on Icona Pop’s one and only hit ‘I Love It’. They ripped through this song and left nothing behind. Saturated with sweat the band posed in front of the capacity Max Watts crowed before exiting for the night.
From a longtime fans’ perspective and attending several shows since their first tour to Australia late in the last millennium; this hands down was the best they have ever sounded live. Sure they may have been rawer and hungrier on the first tour, but as a fan, it has been amazing to see the evolution of this band into what they are today. The only flaw in tonight’s performance was Josh’s vocal during ‘Ridin’ where he seemed to have some kind of difficulty hearing himself. Yes, I’m being overly critical, but once you heard just how good these guys are as a band, the slightest imperfection became evident. Overall Buckcherry delivered a set of classics, deep cuts, hits, anthems and a couple of truly amazing ballads. I have to say this has been this decade’s best touring package bar none. Every band complimented the other and built for a truly incredible show. Thank you Silverback Touring for putting this together, let’s do it again in 2020 …… Please!!!
Bad Moon Born