The Forum, Melbourne, VIC
June 26th. 2022
Supports: Motionless In White and Windwaker
The international touring circuit is well and truly back in Australia now. You’ll know from my surreal response to Fit For A King‘s recent headliner in Melbourne (coverage here) that it’s still something we’re getting used to, and retrospectively, I think we took touring for granted pre-COVID. Anyway, let’s bask in the present, back-story first of course. Back in 2017, Michigan band I Prevail detonated their launchpad into Australia, playing a bunch of sold out shows (gig review here). They soon returned to Good Things Festival in 2019, playing on the main stage (check it out here), this time was only months before they’d be imprisoned from touring completely for a while.
As the world curbs COVID (to some degree), I Prevail finally made it down under on their sold out Aussie tour after a bit of a reschedule, bringing along goth metalcore mates Motionless In White and local heroes Windwaker. Not only were they set to play some big venues, but in Melbourne, they sold out two shows; pretty unreal.
The queue to enter The Forum was literally around the block for show number two in Melbourne, and it’s not unbelievable because the gig was simply stacked. For Windwaker to be opening the show sort of says it all – the proof in the pudding that it is a massive tour. As everyone poured into the venue, our dear locals stepped on stage, poised to play their arguably biggest and best set to date. With a groovy performance of ‘Beautiful‘, the recently signed Aussies were leant a hand by the immense acoustics of the venue (as were all the bands in all honesty). The crowd filled the room vastly and brought their A-game to support their memecore Gods. With phone lights swaying and devil horns erected, Windwaker managed to take everyone on a thick journey. Maintaining excitement with their Britney Spears ‘Toxic‘ cover, they got everyone jumping to some of their new belters like ‘Superstitious Fantasy‘ and ‘Lucy‘, which came off effortlessly.
The amount of Motionless In White merch seen across the sea of metalheads was indicative of the sheer size of their loyal Aussie fanbase, and I’m talking a lot of people. Obviously, MIW have a huge following around the world and down under (having toured here many times before), but again – it this was different. This was their post-pandemic debut back on our shores. Between sets, their blood-stained logo backdrop was dropped behind the stage, and that was enough to set the crowd off with relentless screams.
The house-lights struck black, and MIW dialled up the energy in the room even more and burst into an electric rendition of ‘My Disguise‘. Chris Motionless received nothing short of a royal reception, all frocked up in his long coat and freshly groomed blonde hair combover, alongside bassist Justin Morrow in his full horror uniform. The surreal vibes continued for me as it still felt quite crazy to be witnessing these international metalcore megastars grooving in our city after such a long time away from us. From their ‘Somebody Told Me‘ cover to their new record (Scoring The End Of The World) lead single ‘Cyberhex‘ the goth crew absolutely destroyed the crowd with their perpetually world-class performance.
From Chris’ charming rose throwing into the crowd from a mystery bouquet, to his constant eye contact with the crowd, MIW satiated the hunger of their excitable fanbase with his visceral connection. Of course, it came down to ‘Voices‘ and ‘Reincarnate‘ from their back catalogue that really made the show – packed with an earthquake of bass and impeccable uncleans that cemented their reputation. At this point of the show, it wasn’t farfetched to consider whether MIW might’ve stolen the show.
Alas, the five-piece headliners didn’t even need to try demand any attention when they finally came on, as their sheer stage presence was immediately encapsulating, not to mention the decibels fanning off the crowd. With the immediate entry of ultimate I Prevail vocal duo (Brian Burkheiser sporting a baseball shirt and cap and Eric Vanlerberghe embodying a metalcore eclipse of Tom Araya) front-and-centre, everyone was certainly feeling like the buzz. The two front-men captured a quintessential essence to the I Prevail magic recipe, and their infectious energy facilitated that throughout their set.
With nothing short of a strong opening with ‘Bow Down‘, the band reminded fans why they’re headlining shows of this magnitude again and again and again. Their stage production immediately struck the ultimate balance of loud and crisp – with each riff, breakdown and drum-kick bellowing across The Forum. Punters were happily moving and grooving, and with less of a violent approach, and more of an up-and-down type of energy, setting a wholesome tone for the evening.
By the time I Prevail moved onto ‘Scars‘ and ‘DOA‘, Burkheiser’s hat had been flipped backwards, signalling it’s serious business time. “Open this sh*t up!” Vanlerberghe announces, before spitting a menacing range of diverse uncleans across the room. Announcing he had some health issues earlier this week, he asked the crowd to help him out throughout the performance, but safe to say that no help was required. He consistently outdid himself and probably surpassed his own expectations, let only the fans’.
I Prevail are often compared to new-age A Day To Remember in terms of style, nature and popularity, but they’ve well and truly surpassed that now. As they sang ‘Hurricane‘ to a sea of flailing arms and rocked the ultimate stage presence of stadium performers, it became clear that I Prevail are not trying to be the next anyone or anything. Some may think they may be reaching the level of the likes of Bring Me The Horizon or Parkway Drive, but while watching this band compose themselves, it became abundantly clear that if there’s any band they’re emulating, it’s more musicians like Linkin Park than anyone else. From Burkheiser’s physical resemblance to Chester Bennington, to Vanlerberghe’s diverse vocal delivery from screaming all the way to nu-metal rapping as well as drummer Gabe Helguera‘s ‘Paranoid‘ drum solo, it felt like they’d reached a pivotal point as a band.
Of course, we got to experience a fresh live performance of ‘Body Bag‘, recently released alongside their True Power album announcement – and they certainly delivered the goods with an on-brand delivery packed like a pressure cooker. Chuck in an encore of ‘Come And Get It‘ with a Disturbed-esque “ooh ah ah ah ah!” from Vanlerberghe, and you honestly couldn’t ask for more from I Prevail.
It was a truly stunning gig, and there’s no doubt that all punters left the show feeling rather pleased with their evening. From the triple-bill performances, to the truly fine venue of The Forum, it was one of those you’ll tell your mates about for years to come.
Review by Ricky Aarons (@rickysaul90)
Motionless in White
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