Words and Photos by Ben Hosking – www.hoskingindustries.com.au
First a word of advice: It can really pay to check the opening times for a gig on more than one website! Thanks to an erroneous door time listing on one ticket website, this humbled reviewer ended up missing the brutal Thy Art is Murder.
Thankfully I didn’t miss the mighty Killswitch Engage, who tonight were playing the role of main support. For some, that might seem like an odd place for a renowned international act. However, when you look out across the sold out room at NEX in Newcastle (the old Worker’s Club), it seems like a pretty shrewd move and one that will no doubt win the Massachusetts band plenty of new fans off the back of a typically super strong performance.
Formed in 1999, the band are veterans of the metalcore scene they helped create and it isn’t until you watch their full set that you remember just how many big songs they’ve had. Singer Jesse Leach is a better live singer today than he was in the band’s early days and handles the material of former singer Howard Jones with ease – which is no mean feat.
The entire group bounce around the large NEX stage with the hunger of a band still in their twenties and their tight set and road-worn professionalism will see them return Stateside with some extra record sales and downloads, for sure.
After a short break, Parkway Drive makes one hell of an entrance thanks to six concussion bombs and all the smoke machine action you would ask for. It’s just a taste of what’s to come for the capacity crowd here tonight, with the band bringing over $5000 worth of pyro, according to the pyrotechnician that ushered us off to stage left before those aforementioned explosions took place.
Indeed, Parkway could never be accused of not putting on one hell of a show. I’m pretty sure all the stage hire places in town would have been drained of their lighting rigs by looking at the stage setup here tonight. Thankfully, the musicianship lived up to the theatrics.
While I admit that I’m not the biggest fan of the band, I still found the whole experience too far removed from how I remember them when I last reviewed a Parkway gig in 2010. It felt like a different band to me. Despite Winston’s filthy screaming, newer material is more accessible (not a bad thing on its own), the band were all clad politely in matching black and it all seemed a little staid.
Now, I understand that a band needs to grow and evolve. These dudes aren’t the kids that took Australian (and indeed international) stages by storm over a decade ago. But that sense of danger and aggression wasn’t there. It sure as hell was in the crowd. In fact, the performance came to an abrupt halt after the fourth song in their set (‘Vice’) when an audience member was injured to the point of being stretchered out of the venue by paramedics.
After a 20 minute breather, the band launched into ‘Dedicated’ and the crowd went suitably apeshit.
Realistically, if there are any grumblings in the Parkway fanbase over the group becoming the Aussie equivalent of Bring Me the Horizon or the ‘Nickelback of Deathcore’, you wouldn’t know it here tonight. It’s admittedly a tight performance, but one that felt a lot more one dimensional, with the exception of Winston himself, who clearly gave the show every ounce of strength he had.
Accuse me of resisting progress, call me stuck in the mud. I don’t mind. I just like my metal a little more dangerous. 10 points for being, by far, the biggest metal act in Australia right now, though. There isn’t another band on this continent hauling such a large production around – and you have to respect that!