Live Review: Karnivool, Regular John, Coerce @ The Tivoli, 25 November 2009

[Photo: Stuart Blythe]
  Karnivool, Regular John, Coerce @ The Tivoli, 25.11.2009
By Denis Semchenko

Having successfully escaped my Pearl Jam fan-invaded neighbourhood, by the time I get to The Tivoli openers Coerce have already finished. From a friend’s account, the UK combo played a solid set of angular prog-rock with At The Drive-In leanings, which would have by all means made for a decent listening experience for this writer. For the time being, though, Sydneysiders Regular John will do – and they do it with gusto, cranking up heady garage-rock riffs and pentatonic licks and flailing the ‘70s long hair. Some post-2002 Grinspoon echoes are heard throughout but the quartet’s overall feel is that of the ballsy vintage rock & roll, somewhat incongruous given the headliner’s complex, emotion-drenched oeuvre, yet fun nonetheless.

Playing their second Brisbane show of the Sine Waves And Mirrors tour, the mighty Karnivool again demonstrate why they have no peers in the Australian heavy rock scene.

Just like in June, the Perth five-piece start with the sinuous Simple Boy and segue into Goliath’s buzzsaw opening riff, specs-wearing Ian Kenny (who cannot resist a jocular Pearl Jam mention) bringing out the trademark “alien-trying-to-burst-from-under-human-skin” stage moves and facial expressions. Wizards of their PRS guitars, Drew Goddard and Mark Hoskins concoct a dense sonic stew we’ve all come to love, however the ‘Vool’s marvellous rhythm section – bassist Jon Stockman and drummer Steve Judd – is in downright explosive form tonight, sending brain-tickling pulse and syncopated breaks everywhere. Following the menacing Illumine, Themata’s anthemic opener Cote ignites the moshpit and then we’re back in the Sound Awake domain with the sprawling Deadman, Goddard and Hosking interlocking their harmonies with Kenny’s soaring tenor. Fan favourite All I Know features a brief mandolin cameo, an instrument not commonly associated with Karnivool’s huge, echo-drenched rock sound; an enigmatic frontman in the Mike Patton vein, Kenny works two mics on the incendiary Set Fire To The Hive, the seething guitars emulating the agitated wasp swarm, while the powerhouse rendition of The Only Way (Stockman exercising his blinding bass skills) again proves the WA heroes have made Gotye’s haunting song their own. Live staples Shutterspeed and Mauseum, Sound Awake’s big hit New Day and crowd-pleasing moshfest Roquefort (sans horns, but with the requisite, venue-sized call-and-response chant) follow in a breathless sequence before the beloved signature cut Themata concludes the main set, the drumsticks and water bottles flying into the crowd as the rockers exit the stage. It’s not over just yet, though, as the eardrum-shattering cheers bring the band back and they – again – encore with the 11-minute Change, Kenny finishing the proceedings with a sublime acoustic-strummed outro.

The ‘Vool reign supreme.

Karnivool Karnivool available from iTunes

* CD Review: Karnivool “Sound Awake”
* Live Review: KARNIVOOL The ‘Sound Awake’ Tour @ The Tivoli, Brisbane – 21 June 2009
* Photo Gallery: KARNIVOOL The ‘Sound Awake’ Tour @ The Tivoli, Brisbane – 21 June 2009
* KARNIVOOL – Sine Waves and Mirrors – Australian tour dates