“Hello, Brisbane! Who would’ve seen this coming?” asked The Chameleons’ frontman Mark Burgess.
English post-punks The Chameleons have cultivated a legendary status since releasing their classic 1983 debut ‘Script Of The Bridge’.
Over 35 years later, Mark and his new line-up of The Chameleons finally played their debut Australian show at Brisbane’s Woolly Mammoth (11 January).
Opening was locals Soviet X-Ray Record Club, whose soaring hooks burst from their gloomy melodies.
Next act were Sydney goth-rockers Panic Syndrome, fronted by Ash Rothschild, formerly of '90s rockers Caligula. The group start slow, with Ash’s grand vocals rising over a mournful beat. When they pick up speed, the group add a lot of infectious swagger especially on the fast riffing of their single ‘Victims’.
Australian fans couldn’t contain their excitement at finally seeing The Chameleons live. Screams erupted from the crowd at the sampled intro to their debut’s opening track ‘Don’t Fall’, howling the title with Mark.
‘Here Today’ and ‘Monkeyland’ followed, the second and third tracks from their debut.
For a moment it appeared the band would play their debut in full, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. But just as the last notes faded away, the band surprised with the squalling ‘Looking Inwardly’ from their second album.
They even took a deep dive into their back catalogue to play rarity ‘Dali’s Picture’, a song with a propulsive beat and Mark’s howl echoing throughout the venue.
The biggest reception came for ‘Up The Down Escalator’, the song that introduced me to the band, and possibly many others judging by their squeals at its opening wall of noise.
The guitars swirl and coil around each other, building to its soaring chorus. Mark seemed genuinely surprised by the reception to the song, his smile beaming from his face.
The applause after closer ‘View From A Hill’ morphed into roars for more, which was eclipsed by the squeals at the band’s return.
Upon finishing their big hit ‘Swamp Thing’, Mark sought requests struggling to make out words from fans shouting over each other. He decides on debut single ‘In Shreds’, prefacing it with: “We normally need three guitars, but we’ll try.”
Fans were blown away by the ferocious riffs and thundering drums that could be felt through the floorboards. If Mark thought tonight’s take was “pretty close”, a proper effort would have demolished the venue.
Mark clearly relished the love for the band throughout the night, smiling at the audience when he sang the ‘Second Skin’ lyric “I dedicate this melody to you”.
It may have been a long wait for fans, but small moments like that and their towering tunes made the wait worthwhile.