Sunday, August 11, 2013
As the audience filed in and vied for the best visual vantage points in preparation for the headlining act, support band Northlane launched into an energetic set, with frontman Adrian Fitipaldes’ enthusiasm winning many people over. The band have got the metalcore format down and a slightly self-conscious physical presence was ably overshadowed by the sincerity of the musical performance.
After a lengthy break, Karnivool took to the stage, backed by a massive backdrop, a wall of amps and one hell of a light show. Throughout the set, selections from the new album Asymmetry and previous offerings Sound Awake and Themata were played, including the current single We Are and crowd favourites Cote and Shutterspeed. The aforementioned light show was nothing short of breathtaking, programmed right down to the finest musical subdivision to accentuate every tag and accent as well as highlight the band’s sprawling arrangements and occasionally uplifting chorus sections. In fact, on a deeper listen, much of Karnivool’s material has more in common with musical heavyweights such as Sting and Toto than bands like Metallica, whose t-shirts adorned many of the members of the capacity crowd which seemed to span generations.
Drummer Steve Judd and bassist John Stockman held down the sophisticated arrangements which often feature odd time signatures, laying the foundations for guitarists Drew Goddard and Mark Hosking to build on with gloriously robust tones and down-tuned guitars, the latter musician adding plenty of colour with additional keyboards, synths and harmony vocals. Vocalist Ian Kenny’s hypnotic stage presence saw him revelling in the controlled chaos and oddly yet fittingly seemed at times to evoke equal parts Boris Karloff and Rob Halford. His vocal performance was incredible and every note counted. There were several opportunities for vocal participation on the bigger songs and Kenny often encouraged the crowd to take a chorus here and there, strengthening the band’s connection to their audience. Midway through the set the enthusiastic throng even managed to get the band to stray from the planned setlist, loudly singing a chorus from early favourite Fade until the lights briefly went down, allowing for some quick discussion and re-setting before the musicians acquiesced.
One thing that Karnivool do better than any of their prog-metal peers worldwide is actually deliver a performance with the material. Fans of the genre who have endured amazing sonic experiences with completely lacklustre visual delivery will no doubt attest to this. This band has taken the genre, expanded upon it and made it accessible to listeners who may not even have much interest in this type of music from similar artists. It is truly amazing to have a progressive metal band take the number one album spot on the charts in any country, let alone in Australia from a band with its roots right here in Perth. That fact, plus performances of this calibre on a cold Sunday night in Perth, are nothing short of inspiring. World class.