Supports: Down & Walking Papers

When: Thursday, 27th of February, 2014

Where: The Palace Theatre, Melbourne

Seattle joined forces with the South at the Palace Theatre in Melbourne as Walking Papers, Down and Alice In Chains came together for the must see Sidewave of the tour. While Papers and AIC brought the hallmarks of the cities extraordinary music history, Down decided that the show needed something a little bit heavier, a little bit grittier and frankly a little bit harder. It was an epic celebration of world-renowned music performed by rock and roll royalty.

Bluesy alt-rock outfit Walking Papers riffed and rolled their way through a stunning set that dripped with the old-school character of American rock. With a legendary line up of seasoned rockers including none other than Duff McKagen, Walking Papers played with the enthusiasm of a band that had come together for the love of music they grew up on. While it took the audience some time to come to grips with the bands riff heavy rock, singer/guitarist Jeff Angell's charismatic cool and vocal prowess were impossible to ignore. Their intricate set touched on metal, funk and even cosmic rock, with the beautiful backdrop of a classic blues keyboard - everything you'd expect from a band that confidently explores Seattle's musical tapestry.

From ballsy blues to back breaking metal, Phil Anselmo and his hard as nails cohort known as Down had rolled their way into town. The old school "we don't give a fuck" badarsery of heavy music pumped through the veins of the metal veterans, as they stood before a crowd of equally hardened fans ready to break the place apart.

The roar that greeted the lumbering metal legend was deafening - in this room Anselmo was idolised among history's heavy metal hierarchy. Playing with precision, the boys ensconced the room with their deep and dirty groovy riffs matched only by Anselmo's gruff vocal chords, that aggressively tore through the venue. Being from Louisiana, Down couldn't help but channel the same bluesy attitude as Walking Papers, albeit with a hard edged tone that saw the spirit of the blues swap a six string for a shotgun.

Most songs were interspersed with banter as Anselmo fired up the fans and paid tribute to fallen friends including Jeff Hanneman and of course, Dimebag Darrell. He grinned with delight as a free joint rolled on stage, and stared with indifference when giant pair of boobs emerged from the crowd. Down was Phil's happy place and he wasn't afraid to show it, whether he was singing or belting himself in the head with his microphone.

The sheer force of Down reached gargantuan heights with their closer "Bury Me In Smoke," when McKagen, Walking Papers drummer Barrett Martin and half of Living Colour borrowed the band's gear for what was the greatest live garage jam/heavy metal party ever to round out a show. As the spontaneous shred wound down Anselmo was left alone on stage - he turned to face the audience and demanded that they finish things properly with the closing line from "Stairway to Heaven." Corny? Absolutely, but Anselmo pulled it off.

The impromptu riffage had warmed up The Palace as eager fans scurried to grab a spot in the mosh or good view from the balconies. When Alice In Chains last visited our shores they were in the early stages of a rebirth. William DuVall was settling in as the new vocalist and the band were nearing the release of their first studio album in 14 years. Five years on and they were back with yet another album under their belts and the searing confidence of a band that's rekindled their career after a period of uncertainty.

As the powerful "argh" from monolithic track "Them Bones" kicked off the set, the bands energy clashed with the crowds excitement, exploding in a sing-along that immediately drowned out DuVall and set the bar high for the night. Each instrument shone through the mix with emphasising their technical prowess without sacrificing the deep, resonating tones that reinforce the inviting darkness in Alice's music.

Guitarist Jerry Cantrell and bassist Mike Inez pushed the sound system to its limits with their gritty, distorted, sludgy take on heavy music that shook the buildings foundations to its core, creating an inescapable bubble of alt-metal. Meanwhile drummer Sean Kinney remained focussed on his kit that bore the initials of their fallen members Layne Stayley and Mike Starr - a tribute that everyone in the room understood but none needed to mention.

It was the perfect start to a show that plucked the best bits from Alice's catalogue with the bonus addition of the seldom played track "A Little Bitter." "Man In The Box," took hold of every jaw in the room and threw them to the floor, not only for Cantrell's stunning solo but also DuVall's powerful pipes that he pushed higher and higher without having to strain. Clearly excited, DuVall lead the audience by jumping up and down in time with Cantrell's wah's, generating an epic mosh that only slowed down when it was time to sing the chorus.

Things show took a calmer turn towards the middle when Alice, the fans and Anselmo (on the side of the stage), came together for a moving rendition of "Nutshell." In that moment, the world outside The Palace ceased exist as the sublime beauty of the song floated gracefully across the room in dedication to Stayley and Starr. The sentiment was enough to tug at the heartstrings, but the waterworks were opened when DuVall stepped back and let the two thousand strong chorus sing "I'd feel better dead."

But the soft songs were short lived as Alice returned to the heavy hitters with "A Looking in View," "Stone," and the obligatory "Rooster." Up until the encore their performance had been outstanding but somehow the two or so minutes off stage gave them the chance to muster up another layer of energy that forced the show to new heights. The tendon pumping passion in DuVall's face was palpable as he wailed his way through the chorus of "Again" while Cantrell contentedly toyed with guitar tones and Inez proudly threw his glorious metal locks from side to side.

As the gig neared the end, DuVall invited everyone to take things out on a strong note with "Would?" Fists were raised, the horns were in the air and arms were around shoulders as complete strangers joined forces to blow the roof off the venue with the colossal closing line "if I would could you!" It was the perfect end to a flawless show that anyone, if given the opportunity, would've gladly relived again and again.

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Alice In Chains


Walking Papers