Review: Avatar @ The Triffid (Brisbane)

Avatar played The Triffid (Brisbane) on 27 August, 2023 - image © Clea-marie Thorne
With an insatiable passion for live music and photography adventures, this mistress of gig chronicles loves the realms of metal and blues but wanders all musical frontiers and paints you vibrant landscapes through words and pics (@lilmissterror) that share the very essence of her sonic journeys with you.

Can you believe it? After 22 years, fan petitioning and 9 albums, we finally get our evening in an Avatar moshpit!

Tonight (27 August) was the last leg of Avatar's first ever Australian tour at The Triffid in Brisbane. How over the moon must the members of Krave be, supporting these iconic metal masters?!

As the clock is ticking, the atmosphere with the mounting anticipation starts to prickle my skin. Brisbane's alternative metallers, Krave cast shadows on the stage as they take their places.

Whetting our appetite with a familiar riff from Led Zeppelin's 'Black Dog' before hitting us with 'Puppet' from their EP 'Inner Asylum', showcases the immense talent of Ryan White as his fingers dance on the fretboard giving the metal strands a caning for the song's solo. Vocalist and bass player, Siana Davis' pipes expressly inform us that our inner dialogue can be our own worst enemy.

'Purgatory' and 'Alchemy', which they both released during COVID, follow and the crowd are right into their vibe, as Davis makes sure any virgin Kravers know who they are.

The band squeeze in 'Outta Control' and 'Midnight' for our absolute pleasure. Sam Bertolone (drums) reminds us through his skilful bashing of the tubs, that he is the pulse and helps to keep the band's tight and rhythmical sounds throughout the set.

Krave - image © Clea-marie Thorne

We also get 'Take Your Bow' before the closing cracker, 'Unalive'. The set demonstrates the band's love of old-school metal and alternative hard rock.

The vibrations of music nostalgia intermingle throughout Krave songs that are accentuated by the gifted pipes of strong frontwoman Davis. This set is gonna make the punters really crave a whole lot more from this crushing three piece and hopefully get to more of their live performances.

The interval is short and sweet, just how we like it on a Sunday night.

Venue lights are dimming down and excitement swirls in the air around us. Fans are waiting expectantly and with bated breath for the arrival of Avatar. I am pinching myself, finally the world-renowned band from Gothenburg, Sweden, the reason we are all gathered here tonight is gonna be playing before me!

The music over the speakers is fading and punters are getting their wild cheers on as the first chimes of the intro to 'Dance Devil Dance' has us holding our breath. A few ecstatic punters are piercing the atmosphere with ear-splitting yelps.

A gimp dressed in black tends to the stage. Jonas Jarlsby (guitar), Tim Öhrström (guitar), Henrik Sandelin (bass) are on the stage with their instruments. They are being observed with some judgment by John Alfredsson (drums) who then gets behind his kit on the riser to perform some marionette movements – kind of like a vintage windup toy.

Avatar - image © Clea-marie Thorne

He then joins the chiming of the song with perfectly timed hits on his drum. Soon after the axes join the party and fans join Johannes Eckerström (vocals) to sing the lines of the song's first verse: "Step the circle. Jump and turn around." Die-hard fans are doing exactly that – well ok, maybe they are not quite doing foot donuts.

Flamboyant, artistic frontman, Eckerström is wearing his signature vaudeville clown-mime make-up and costume. His onstage persona is magical and I am already in love with his theatrics and hysterical Broadway moves. The hat and cane that come and go just top of it off.

The rest of the band are wearing the same black jodhpur-style breaches with red suspenders and black satin ruffled collared shirts, but are wearing black-fronted boots instead of red and black boots as worn by their enigmatic frontman.

'The Eagle Has Landed' and 'Valley Of Disease' keep us moving, enthralled and head-banging. I have a sore neck purely from watching Eckerström, Öhrström, Sandelin and Jarlsby frenzy whipping the long tresses like windmills in a hurricane and violent neck snaps to flick their hair backwards as they shred away, plucking, strumming, picking and bending steel strings. How long are their necks going to be by the end of the set?

Eckerström incites us to do better than "trying" to mosh. He raises laughter from the crowd by saying: "With all this dirty talk going on, I do need your informed consent. . . Now remember, there is no safe word." As the band starts to play 'Chimp Mosh Pit', fans follow his order and the pit gets crazier than before with fans moshing flat out.

Jarlsby and Öhrström move front of stage, giving us a ripping guitar duet during 'Paint Me Red' – it is flawless. 'Bloody Angel' starts with its haunting melody transitioning into amazing guitar work closely replicating the sound of single piano notes.

Avatar - image © Clea-marie Thorne

The crowd is clapping and bellowing incoherently. Eckerström screams the fans into action, and they join in singing real words now. I'm feeling a Marilyn Mason vibe from his vocals on this song – but better.

A barrage of heavy guitar riffs and thundering drums punctuate the song and the anthemic chorus of vocal melodies glide across the heavy metal instrumentation. Growling the song title 'For The Swarm' sets the moshpit into a whirlpool of flaying hair and horns.

This one is followed by more dialogue about the poor king not knowing of the deceit before him – of course, it's a segue for the band to start playing the dark circus feels of 'Puppet Show' with an intermittent upbeat tempo that has Eckerström cavorting like a crazy clown.

Next is 'When The Snow Lies Red’ followed by a big banger that's introduced by Eckerström telling us how he learned about kangaroos at school and expects us to be able to jump. He then booms: "I want your full participation," and that we are all going to die and that we should all find a beautiful place to watch the end of the world fireworks together.

"I want you to join me / Why don't you meet me 'On The Beach'!" Yes, we join in and punters in the moshpit are jumping just like kangaroos as things get very hectic during its rip snorter of a crushing solo.

This is followed by more tunes for us to lap up: 'Black Waltz' and 'Tower' – the set list is huge. Avatar is relentless and so is the stream of crowd surfers.

We are getting a little bit of breather during the lulling intro, to what will morph into a divine slice of metal goodness, 'The Dirt I'm Buried In' – oh, how sublime it is as the bass kicks this with such a heavy groove that is complemented by catchy guitar riffs atop that driving rhythm section.

Eckerström's vocals again alternate so effortlessly between aggressive delivery and melodic passages that only enhances the overall energy of this song. Jarlsby now appears before us front and centre dressed in royal garb and posing with his axe.

'A Statue Of The King' comes at us and we are lapping up the blend of heavy guitar riffs and melodic leads while we are trying to emulate Eckerström's powerful growls and melodic singing.

Avatar - image © Clea-marie Thorne

I think we may sound like a bunch of alley cats, but the vibrant frontman showcases his emotional range that is washing over fans. I love the chorus of this song and I bet the musos in the audience are getting hot and bothered over the brilliant instrumentation in this track.

We are again left in darkness, this time before an empty stage. We will not have this, not yet and we collectively are calling the chant of "Avatar," literally begging them for our encore we feel entitled to.

'Colossus' is the first – they return to the stage and the guitarists stand at the ready with axes held steady like soldiers with guns at battle. On the command of the beating drums and a blast of light, Öhrström and Jarlsby join the musical foray with crunchy guitars and the vibration is ripping through the air around us. The move to head-bang is strong in this one.

Eckerström tells us they are running out of time and can only play two more songs. He then teases us and pretends to punish us for being greedy when we ask for ten more songs dropping the two on offer down to one.

Of course, with a wry and cheeky grin he's now telling us we don't know what true power is (holding an audience in the palm of his hand type power) as he turns it around to reassure us that Avatar will deliver up another two hits.

Eckerström also reminds us we are part of the equation that gives meaning to what they do and part of why they do it. We then get a dialogue ending with him smelling his own armpit and a call and response intro ahead of 'Smells Like A Freakshow' that has everyone throwing up their horns high, fist pumping the smoky air in time to the music that is starting up again.

After a menacing leading intro, we join Eckerström in song for 'Hail The Apocalypse'. Fans lose their minds as the song gives away to the heavy onslaught of guitars and Alfredsson thrashing insanely on the drums. Many in the crowd are giving their best aggressive growls, while others prefer to only join in singing the melodic lines. I do both!

What a powerful and anthemic closing song that has a truly epic feel through the tightly played dynamic instrumentation. Best concert feels ever!

Bangers bled into more bangers to give the best ear bleeds you would ever want – Avatar has to be impressed by the energy fed back to them by fans. This is one hell of a marathon mosh of just under two hours that is testing our endurance.

While Eckerström is big on personality and totally commands your attention, Jarlsby and Öhrström on guitars, Henrik on bass, and Alfredsson on drums all get spotlight time. The huge solos and wicked guitar duets and duelling of Öhrström and Jarlsby just blew our minds over and over. Perfectly executed with the best hair windmills and guitar poses on the planet.

Avatar - image © Clea-marie Thorne

Cheeky Alfredsson on drums would stand up and taunt us or pull faces while the others gathered around his kit riser – which all made a delicious topping of the very metal kind.

Eckerström was engaging from start to finish, made us a balloon animal up on the mezzanine and would give creepy scary stares then flip and be clowning around. It was a crack-up, and his antics gave for big smiles all 'round. I mean drinking from a jerry can is not quite normal, right?

The extreme roars and growls, the harsh melodies, insane guitar riffs and loud beats from Avatar left us high as kites and screaming for more. From the reception given to their 17-song set here at The Triffid, I bet Avatar will make good on their promise to return and hopefully not take another two decades.

By the time y'all understand what you missed out on tonight, you'll be the first to buy tickets to their next show and head to Avatar Country with the Avatar family.

Avatar - image © Clea-marie Thorne

Avatar don't restrict all the theatrics for their music videos only. Hell no! Their stage show performance has been so much fun to observe in the flesh. It was fantastic to see that they put as much effort and presentation into their show as they do in those insane an entertaining music clips.

From a chick that likes it loud and live, I hold the biased opinion that their outstanding live music performance is so superb that even their brilliant recordings will forever pale in comparison to tonight's Avatar extravaganza. Long live heavy metal legends, Avatar so we can do this again!

More photos from the show.

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