Voyager – Gig Review – 10th June @ Stay Gold, Melbourne Vic

Voyager, Future Static,
Stay Gold, Melbourne Vic
June 10th, 2023
Support:  Future Static

Tonight, the coolness of the early winter Melbourne evening is offset beautifully by the pure warmth in the vibe surrounding Perth’s wondrous Voyager, and their first appearances since returning from blowing the roof off Eurovision a few weeks ago. Tonight’s show sold out several days ago, once again begging the question of whether they should have played a bigger venue in Melbourne. If there was any justice in the musical world, this band would be headlining the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, or at least the Forum, but that’s a conversation for another time and place.

The band, or maybe it was the bookers/promoters, even chose the support for tonight’s gig wonderfully well. Melbourne’s Future Static are fast-rising stars on the Aussie alternative/heavy/progressive music scene, and tonight they prove why. They are given a solid 40-minute set with which to display their wares, and they do not waste a single second of this time, packing a buttload of energy and dynamics into their allotted time. So much so that you simply cannot take your eyes from their mesmerising performance.

This dynamism is embodied in the form of the diminutive powerhouse that is frontwoman Amariah Cook, whose kinetic energy and schizophrenic vocal delivery demand attention. Hers is a performance of wild and joyous contrasts – not only does she change up her vocals from sweet and melodic to insane banshee screams on a dime, her pixy-like between-song stage persona veritably explodes when the song kicks in, causing you to do a double-take to be certain it’s the same person. In addition, her onstage chemistry with bassist Kira Neil is seriously something to behold.

Of course, having the greatest frontperson in the world does not necessarily maketh the greatest of shows, if the band behind him/her is not tight and powerful. Fortunately, the other members of Future Static are consummate pros. Their musicianship is exemplary – they punch like a combo from Mike Tyson in his prime, intertwine sweetly when required, and pull back to tasty atmospherics as necessary to create the dynamics any progressive band worth their salt is capable of.

All that said, I have seen this band one other time, their Melbourne album launch of late last year. That night, they were absolutely wild, an untamed beast of a band, letting it all hang out and leaving nothing on the stage. Tonight, by comparison they are just a smidgeon more subdued, they keep things in check just a touch more, which is of course to be expected when you only have 40 minutes and it’s not your show. Their set tonight is still scintillatingly entertaining, and revs the crowd up beautifully for the magnificent headliners.

To say Voyager are given a hero’s return is a true understatement. The good vibes are palpable as they take the stage with a rousing rendition of what this scribe believes to be their best cut, ‘Hyperventilating’, from the V album of ten years ago. That was the album that took them to a new level, that lifted them from more of a cult/niche power metal band to a blistering modern melodic progressive band. Though they dip their toes into the pre-V era here and there across the course of their set, their focus is very much on that album and what has come since (including brand new single ‘Prince of Fire’.)

The increase in status and public profile generated by an appearance at something like Eurovision affords a band many things. One of which is extra set length, and tonight winds out well beyond the 90-minute mark, including a single encore, and the packed-out crowd gets every single cent of their money’s worth. Virtually every single song this band has created is a sh*tload of fun, but among the true highlights tonight are the soaring and emotional ‘A Beautiful Mistake’; the aforementioned encore, crowd favourite (even if it’s not frontman Danny Estrin’s favourite!) ‘White Shadow’; exhilarating main set closer ‘Ascension’; and of course the moment some in the crowd are waiting for, their rousing Eurovision entry ‘Promise’.

Also of note are the band’s fantastic, sparkly stage costumes (which prompt the onstage quote: ‘Voyager are a metal band with sequins and dance moves’), their light show, which is pretty spectacular for a small pub/club venue, and the general atmosphere of fun, joy and happiness this band always brings with them. Of course, they also always bring the world-class levels of musicianship and stage presence to back it all up.

It is very smart management to take immediate advantage of a massive upsurge in notoriety the likes of which Voyager have enjoyed this year. This tour was announced during Eurovision, as was the July release of their new album. The single came out during the contest. From the outsider’s perspective, it all seemed planned and executed to perfection, and they and their management are to be congratulated for their nous and their conviction in making the most of this opportunity and making it all happen.

Ultimately, the Voyager family deserve every ounce of the success they are now enjoying. Let’s hope they ride the wave for many more years to come.

Review by: Rod Whitfield