Max & Iggor Cavalera Return To Roots @ Astor Theatre
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
It’s been 21 years since Sepultura’s Roots was released and a 21 year wait for this reviewer to see the Cavalera brothers onstage together playing Sepultura classics. We can agree most of us thought it would never happen (after Max Cavalera quit Sepultura in 1996 and had a bitter falling out with brother/drummer Iggor), but on a wet and cold Tuesday night at the Astor Theatre in Mount Lawley, lightning struck twice.
A feverish crowd of long hair, dreadlocks and shaved heads prowled the art deco heritage of the Astor Theatre looking like fish out of water in a very different venue for a metal show. The punters swapping their faded, battle scarred Sepultura t-shirts for brand new Return to Roots shirts with a beer in one hand, and their best mate’s shoulder in the other (trading war stories from past Sepultura/Soulfly concerts).
Skindred warmed us up in the best way they could considering they were supporting metal royalty, with an eclectic mix of grooves and riffs with vocalist Benji Webb humouring the crowd with his gymnastic heavy vocals. Metal crowds have always been encouraging of support bands (as long as they are heavy enough the crowd can head bang in respect). Local hero Ian Kenny (Karnivool, Birds of Tokyo) joined them onstage with his signature voice soaring.
As the Return to Roots banner rolled down the back of the stage, the guttural howls and unbridled enthusiasm of the crowd became akin to groans of a rabid gorilla breaking out of it’s cage. Was it smoke rising from the stage or steam rising from the audience? I couldn’t tell. They had a musical thirst that had been in need of quenching for too long…
After Cavalera Conspiracy and Soulfly members Marc Rizzo (guitar) and Tony Campos (bass) graced the stage, Max and Iggor Cavalera were welcomed by a thunderous applause not unlike a homecoming. “What’s up Perth!!?” screamed our metal godfather Max Cavalera as they launched into Roots Bloody Roots with Iggor’s skin tight, world destroying drumming.
Each Roots track was “dissected and pulled apart to get them right to play live” (to quote Max Cavelera), as the crowd screamed every lyric while risking life and limb in the circle mosh. It was a celebration of brotherhood and sisterhood through the cathartic therapy of the godlike heavy music Sepultura gave us all those years ago. “Louder!!” demanded Max.
Attitude, Straighthate and Ratamahatta sounded as passionate as when they first arrived on record as Rizzo and Campos played their parts with the respect and energy of genuine Caverlera era Sepultura fans. The timing, mix and effects echoed throughout the Astor in pitch perfection.
As lessor known tracks such as Look Away were put through their paces, we can be reminded that Roots was an album that gave safe passage to the nu-metal movement (for better or worse). Skindred’s Benji Webb made an appearance taking on a Jamaican Dance-Hall MC persona, riffing on vocal slogans and melodies (that frankly, we could have done without).
A triumphant conclusion, Dictatorshit, to the “official set” gave us a Roots Bloody Roots reprise with a segue way into an “early Sepultura thrash style” of the title track. “This is the end of the tour! We gonna play more shit for you all, okay!?” Of course it was okay for us as Marc and Tony left the stage with Max and Iggor remaining, dueling to Refuse/Resist and Slave New World like teenagers back in the garage. To see a two-piece Sepultura doing their own kind of Black Keys/ White Stripes impersonation isn’t something I thought I’d ever see.
Marc and Tony returned to join the brothers for a sloppy encore of Motorhead’s Ace of Spades and an even sloppier take of AC/DC’s TNT. It was all in good fun being the end of the tour but you really have to make a call when you are on top.
The Return to Roots show was everything we could have hoped for, the songs from an album played live for the first time sounding as fresh as the recordings. We arrived at this show with demands, and the Cavelera brothers delivered in spades.
Photos by Linda Dunjey Photography