There are few Australian bands that push the boundaries while remaining at the top like Northlane.
Each album represents a shift in sound and feeling with each subsequent tour giving life to those tracks. After the huge success that was Alien, Northlane shift shape again into Obsidian and the tour itself morphs too.
Tonight the set list is powerful. A fifteen track arsenal of Northlane’s most recent works, all rocket powered fusion of energy and angst, there is literally no let up. No ‘ballad’, no slow number, all music that courses through the body creating a cycle of energy between band and crowd.
Northlane have brought quite the line up too starting with Adelaide’s own Alt. who themselves have not stopped over the last twelve months and scored a slot on this tour nationally. Only having time to drop four tracks including singles Chasing Safety and Insubordinate, the band’s musical canvas is littered with shades of light, soft, delicate arrangements with borders of brooding heaviness where the magic erupts in whirl of swinging guitars and pounding drums.
While on the subject on magic happening, Sleep Token are quite literally an experience. Their whole performance, which starts slow amid an atmospheric ambience of calm, gradually builds throughout their set until finishing with the pressure released in the form of mosh pits, rapturous applause and singing.
Dressed in robes, smeared in black paint and masked, singer Vessel glides across the stage like a ghoul on puppet strings, each jagged movement, hand gesture and head movement enhancing the story telling of the music. It’s the sound of waiting in limbo after death not knowing which path is next. If Morrissey was a in goth band it would be a pale imitation of Sleep Token.
However it’s Northlane’s show and they themselves utilises every aspect of the stage to take you on a mesmerising show. The light show that accompanies each song is just a impressive as the music, illuminating the band in shade and light. The set list is heavily weighted on the last two albums opening with a brain shattering combo of Clarity, Plenty and Echo Chamber.
Northlane are artists, always pushing their own boundaries and the textures within the music and show they put on. Often it seems vocalist Marcus Bridge is the only performer on stage as this immersive interactive performance heightens each of your senses to keep track of what is going on. A constant theme of ‘Why can I only see Bridge, I can hear music, wait there’s the band, look at those lights, hang on here’s the breakdown’ overloading the senses throughout the magnificent set.
The most pit is chaotic for 4D and Carbonized while diverting to bring in oldie Quantum Flux which doesn’t seem to out of place with the new sound.
Obsidian, Cypher and Is This A Test? sound amazing with no let up in the pace from the band who just keep pushing every last ounce of sweat out of all of us.
Finishing with a raucous Clockwork, Northlane have just finished their heaviest set list in years. This band may mix different elements into their music however as this performance shows tonight, the heavy is where they are most powerful, and right now there are none more powerful in Australia.
Live Review By Iain McCallum