Review: Northlane @ The Tivoli (Brisbane)

Northlane played The Tivoli (Brisbane) on 25 June, 2022.
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.

The great thing about metal gigs in winter? We get to keep a mild sense of decorum in a packed house.

I'm looking forward to the squish warming my cockles tonight (25 June) as Northlane play a sold-out The Tivoli on the final night of their tour.

Wow! I see a whole ceiling rack of lighting has been installed for tonight's show and I count four drum kits set up on the stage. Four. Evidently there'll be no sharing of the tubs tonight.

Metalcore band Alt from Adelaide take the crammed stage as a five-piece. While things seem a bit squeezy up there, real estate is not an issue for Alt and they get straight into getting us pumped.

It takes of all thirty seconds for Alt to show us they're raring and mean business and we respond with body movements indicating how we're digging the vibe of this first song.

Daniel Cullen-Richards (vocals) introduces 'Chasing Safety' as the next song and fans in the crowd are getting rowdy for this banger. Greeted with a roar from the crowd on its opening is 'Devil's Cut', highlighting the post hardcore finesse of these guys.

I'm digging the variety in the vocals and the masterful drumming that seems to be tying all the moving parts together by placing the stops and starts where they should be. I love that Marcus Bridge helped to write this track and secretly hoped he'd join them onstage for a bit of fun.

Ending their tight and solid set is 'Insubordinate'. With its groove and easy melodic hooks, I find myself oblivious to the people around me as my body is snaking on the spot until the heavy ending kicks in for a few seconds making me snap my neck forwards and backwards.

We now get our first break while they crew set about deconstructing Alt’s gear ahead of the second support. Then there were three drum kits. I can see Sleep Token have a good fan rep happening tonight gauging from their band shirts in the crowd.

Sleep Token take us on a ride first with 'Alkaline' and then 'Hypnosis' – the sound is on-point, their stage presence enthralling making their combined talents so much more atmospheric live. I have goosebumps and they're no longer from the cold. It's just that good.

A crowd favourite, 'Like That' with its sublime ambience is being soaked up by the punters and they clap it in and the band are loving this volunteered crowd participation.

'The Love You Want' is next and the electronic composition gives it great mood and band members provide drama through hand and body movements, sometimes over exaggerated maybe to compensate for their masked faces.

Sleep Token then perform 'Higher' and punters are moshing and nodding heads to the beats. They then play 'The Offering' that has the perfect balance of electronic sounds, emotive vocals and dense instrumentation.

Sleep Token moved us physically and emotionally with their six-pack set – but it was a six-pack short than we were hoping for! Come on back down under soon you marvellous masked musicians – puhlease!

Plini opens the set joined by Chris Allison (drums), Simon Grove (bass) and Jake Howsam Lowe (guitar) – this is no solo show folks! Which means we are getting the full sounds of live guitar and no doubt special tech-fx.

What better way to introduce virgin Plini listeners to his chill instrumental vibe that's sometimes laced with a bit or wild chaos, than with 'The Glass Bead Game'. This track worms into your ears to infect your neural pathways, taking you on a lengthy journey of bending and transforming around double kick beats and progressive-style riffage.

Punter heads are focussed on the band and the Plini fans in this mix are given away by their body movements that show they're intimate with the valleys and mountains of this magnificent tune.

With a banger of an introduction they move to play to us what I think may be a version of 'Pan' followed by 'I'll Tell You Someday' that has all the elements of a delicious prog-rock guitar and a drum groove that makes it easily digested. The atmospheric repeating hooks and melodies make it instantly likeable while having enough diversions and timing changes to keep it fresh.

'Papellilo', 'Cascade' and 'Handmade Cities' were played before an oldie but goodie 'Electric Sunrise' with its soft, gentle intro coming on like first light when the sunlight reaches the atmosphere but the sun is yet to be seen.

With eyes closed we see the tap, tap tapping of fretboard creating a visual of a burning molten amber sun rising and evaporating low lying clouds from existence in our mind's eye. This is made more real as the lights from the stage are visible behind my closed eyelids much like a blazing sun.

Just like the intensity of the sunrise gradually waning as it floats above the horizon, so too does the music of this last song.

Giving acknowledgement to the other bands while also having a joke, Plini says "speaking of handsome, some of the most handsome people we've ever met or seen, have come all the way from the UK and killed this entire tour," – the crowd is laughing and Plini quickly tells us to hang on, while he continues: "Please make some noise for the wonderful, amazing and sensual Sleep Token," the crowd erupting with laughter, whistles and cheers for the masked musicians.

Plini says they have about a minute left of their set. After pointing out that Howsam Lowe failed to wear black as directed, he tells us that they'll fill in the time by playing some stupid guitar just to make Northlane sound even better.

Howsam, with the only axe on stage with a headstock, sets in to give a quick solo jam. Man can this guy throw it down, so much so Plini takes him on and it becomes a duelling riff off – noice!

For those who have not yet heard Northane's 'Obsidian' album you may be fooled into thinking the opening song 'Clarity' is a 4am '90s rave wind down mix.

However, it's the cleverly crafted 90-minute intro before it hits out and smashes you in the face with Bridges screaming "you're killing me"; the green laser lights are hectic and are cutting into the dark of the crowd and as the drums relentless throbbing continues embers are rising from spark boxes on stage and oh, here comes the riffage – oh yes, Northlane are fully lit, audibly and visually.

Northlane – image © Kim Quint

The heat this song is bringing is made more intense with the pyrotechnic embers rising from the stage in bursts emphasising peak beats within the timing of the song; and after crushing us it mellows out and then drums and riffage mesh with the synth sounds.

Just from the opener, I can tell we are all going to lose our sh.t with Northlane's performance tonight.

Northlane – image © Kim Quint

I'm even more excited as they play a favourite banger from the new album 'Echo Chamber' and it's electro poppy dance flavour; that is until Bridge starts screaming like a young Trent Reznor and I get some early NIN vibes.

The crowd is now one pulsating mass as we bop on the spot. The band are loving every second that punters are echoing the chorus back at them.

As a bonus third dimension, we get a crazy breakdown and definitely get the Bridge signature tones in full force as he takes off with thrumping bass and beats to the end of the song. 'Xen' and '4D' has punters moshing more intensely and crowd surfing beneath the level of blasting laser lights emanating from the back of stage to slice and dice the air and artificial fog that is randomly pumping out.

Northlane – image © Kim Quint

Ah they didn't leave off the gloriously melodious 'Quantum Flux' or the well-known belter that's only go up popularity for sure, 'Carbonize'. These come ahead of 'Is This A Test?' where Jon Deiley has the synth/ programming to the forefront against the bass and drums which are keeping the heartbeat of the soundscapes of the song and I am vibing NIN again.

I'm feeling caught in a rapture and from behind my half-closed eyes I see the punters in front of me are loving it. As I throw my head back for the second chorus, I see arms extending over the mezzanine balcony that is directly above me.

These punters seem to be reaching out to receive the invisible energy in the room, the same energy that has reinvigorated me and is keeping me bouncing and dancing in my space some more.

The impressive light show programming, jets of sparking embers and the full-bodied sounds of this next iteration of Northlane is spinning us on one fantastical trip. I am pulsating again with the crowd to the beats of 'Abomination'. It is mad out there on the floor.

The mosh is maintaining a hectic pace with Deiley electro additions and the drumming feeding their frenzy. Punters are also lapping up the techno break that shows how the band has really shifted from their earlier more classic hard metalcore roots to this industrial dance-electro-tech-metalcore music – whatever you wish to label it.

With the friendly pit kept frantic by the crushing quick paced dark fuzz of 'Details Matter' it is made weirdly intimate by us all screaming back: "You can't make me disappear!"

Northlane – image © Kim Quint

'Bloodline', the banging belter, is getting punters instantaneously ignited with a burst of energy as more sprays of glowing embers are once again creating a curtain of molten sparkles across the front of stage. The mosh is on baby!

Kicking out next with the title track of the tour/album that starts with beautiful clean soaring vocals contrasted against uncomfortable electro sounds before spewing a truck load of energy that fuels us to sing loudly along to a classic banger 'Talking Heads' (Alien).

Hands pumping in the air, bodies are crowd surfing, a few naughty punters up on shoulders demount as soon as security shine their magic torches at them and we ride out this last song as the band depart.

Of course, the encore was delivered after a few rounds of shouting "one more song" and thank you very much that was delivered by way of 'Clockwork' that came as a hail of spark jets, spark bursts and near the end two cannons of confetti showering us with small rectangular strips of white tissue paper and under the lights it looks freaking spectacular.

Northlane – image © Kim Quint

Bridges was not telling porky pies when he told fans they would be bringing their biggest production to date on this tour.

I confirm they delivered their 15 song set list of old and new bangers with musical precision and a truck load of heart and soul that was complemented by a stage design that was lit by its ceiling full of additional lights, laser lights from the rear, embers jetting up in sync to the music from spark boxes with the finale touch of confetti fired from cannons side of stage.

Bridges gave thanks to all the bands and a special mention to the crew who he reckons have been the smoothest operators he has had to date. We of course get a mention and all the while we are clapping and screaming appreciation. With the selfie before the audience, we are done.

Northlane – image © Kim Quint

Thanks for introducing 'Obsidian' to us live. The changed sound, although not a massive leap from the last album, is an expansion and way more matured – as is the polished stage performance.

The Northlane set was totally embraced by punters tonight, as were the support bands which have been the perfect mix. This show was totally, aurally and visually mesmerising! Can I order another?!

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