review by Oliver Sharwood
After the previous nights antics with the train stations, I took the bold move to leave slightly earlier, and arrived at the venue before the doors even opened. There were only about 20 people there at this stage, and it was apparent security would be tighter than last night's strictness, as the security personnel outnumbered the fans! By the time the doors opened at 6, there were about equal numbers as another 30 fans had arrived. There seemed to be more interest in getting into the bar for most people, then the show and when Shudder To Think hit the stage about 8pm there was probably only about 3,000 inside the stadium. They got probably their best reaction here for their 30 minute set, but still people didn't seem interested so they played on oblivious to the lack of crowd, and knowingly lack of mosh. The crowd didn't start to come in until about 8:45 and I was tempted to hope that PJ would come out early to surprise them, but it didn't happen. Even the floor area didn't start filling until then, with the strains of the Foo Fighters playing over the PA.
The waiting drove us mad as the CD continued onto each next song, and we all were expecting it to stop and go into The Colour Red. It took an eternity to reach 9:03pm, but it got there, and those who knew were raring to go, even if they didn't put the lights out for another two minutes. Once they were out though, there was no stopping us, as the screams went up and 30 seconds later, the first notes were played. It was Long Road and I felt happy it was the 5th different opener in five shows I'd seen, but sad as this would be the last. The feeling and vibe that this was the last show overall as well, seemed to be present, even thought they had Perth to go. The stage lit up with directed yellowy-white lights enhancing the big candles as Ed began "And I wish for so long, cannot stay ..."
The song was mellow, the band mellow, and the crowd mellowed with them, and I'll probably say this about every song, but this was an exceptional start and it got the screams going for a while before they stopped to listen and appreciate it. After the musical welcome, Ed welcomed us with a "Hello Melbourne" which received a mixed reaction ... then "Ahh Sydney?" which received much booing ... "Ahh Adelaide?" more booing .. "Auckland?" even more booing .. then paused for a bit for us to yell up, then as casual as you please, "Hello Brisbane" for much cheering!!! It was straight into a blistering version of Go which had the mosh going wild leaving the rest of us to sing as quick as we could, closing it out with some wicked playing by Mike and Stone. They didn't leave anytime to stop as they launched right into Do The Evolution. It went off, and the atmosphere was electric as trippy blue spotlights spun and fanned out over the crowd during the "hallelujah's." The place was alive and rocking and the band kept it up, going right into Brain Of J. The mosh was definitely wilder than the previous night, barely stopping for Ed to sing "And my name, the name they gave me, the name I'm letting goooooooo" before the band upped the tempo again to close it out with much power and wild rocking. A breather was in order, and we got it with In Hiding. Though the crowd wanted to rock, Ed's vocals on this quelled that desire as they were stunning, before the second verse Ed threw in a 'keep the fuckers off him', and then hitting all the high notes in the chorus. The crowd loved it and this will become a favourite live if they keep playing it. To close, there was applause, then we let Stone finish the last few notes before applauding him, and while we were screaming, Mike started off Alive.
Alive rocked and was full of energy and the crowd had lots to burn. Although it wasn't extended like previous shows, there were two brilliant Mike solos. During the second, Ed walked to the side behind him and watched while Stone and Jeff played to Jack, the solo continuing until the end of the song. The crowd was definitely going again, and the band was straight into Last Exit. Jeff was bouncing all around the stage and the mosh was going crazy with him, prompting Ed to comment after the song "Ok, we're all just warming up, just warming up," which was the cause of much laughter on his part and cheering on ours. Ed played straight into Wishlist which is a great mid-show breather :) A lyric was changed to "as fortunate as you," which got some cheer, and there was much clapping by the end, finishing out like on the album with just guitars fading after "never let you down" without any further lyrics. Ed launched straight into Corduroy and the crowd went wild again. They physically paused the music twice during the song which was awesome. After "can't buy what I want because its free" and "guess I lie alone like I began", after which Stone went into a great solo, with Mike going with Jeff and Ed, heck everyone was solo-ing! :)
The extended jam only went for a short time before surprise fading out which was cool. Content to not stop moshing, they launched into MFC and had everyone rocking along to it, more so than other shows. I wish the song was longer but it was played harder, and although short, is very sweet.
Finally we could take another break, as Jeff sat down and got his floor bass, and Ed reacting to the crowd and their plea to slow down after four in a row. Someone yelled something out at the front, Ed said "What was that? Ok, we can do that one ... ahh we'll keep it nice and quiet, this is ahh, this is a sad song, they're all sad songs." The song was Nothingman and the cheers went up from the opening notes and everyone tuned into it, listening to Ed rather than singing like the previous night. But then we were pleased to hear it or maybe just pleased to have a break! In the middle, starting the second verse "He once believed in every story..." Ed's vocals went up a notch and were crackingly haunting, filling the stadium with them. Seeing this song four times in five shows was a privilege, and the best was saved for last, it was incredible!!! Ed commented after "excellent" and it was. And the best was to continue, as Even Flow got us back into the mosh. Every night they've played it so far on tour, its been wild and awesome but they always produced something later to eclipse it. But I think tonight I will give it the 'best of night' award for trying so hard and being crowd favourite. After the intro tune, and before going into the first verse, Ed said "Let's get this mix going up" or something like that. Ed and Jeff were bounding around stage the whole song, and after the choruses Ed said "Watch Mike" and Mike obliged with a kicking solo and the whole place was fully energetic. Jeremy was the next off Ten and the crowd liked it, with much moshing continuing, and every floor hands up in a V, half the floor doing the hand motions, jaw punching, 'harmless little fuck,' etc. through the song, trading "try to forget this" and "oh oh oh"s with Ed. The song had a CD perfect feel to it, as did the night so far. It was straight into another perfect song, pleasing the crowd just as much with Given To Fly. There was much moshing and watching, with Ed flying with waving and wide hand motions during it, and many people screaming 'fly,' 'wide' and 'why' whenever they thought he was going to.
After a few tuning licks, and the band walked off except Ed who stated "Ok, ah, this is a little different but I don't even know since I'm not from here, if this is a cheesy Australian song, or the best Australian song ever written," which got much cheers, "but ah, this one goes out to the one I love." He then proceeded to play the latter -- the best Australian song ever written -- Hunters and Collectors song "Throw Your Arms Around Me" on his own, and the crowd watched, clapped, and sung along. It was the full song and was so brilliant -- what can be said?!!! The band came back and the mood continued with Off He Goes to which the crowd continue to sing along and was somewhat of an anticlimax after the previous song, although Stone and Jeff's solos were great, and Ed finished with ".. there goes he" which sounds weird but funny.
Picking up the pace for the end of the set, they went into a jam which was the same as the jam in Sydney, and let's hope its a new song, but it did sound very much like something AC/DC or Angels. Anyways, it led straight into Habit which was an awesome rocking version, better than other versions I'd seen on the tour, and everyone was going crazy. The band loved it and so did the mosh, stopping in the middle for Ed to stagger around the stage in a daze with the mic saying "habit" and he went "speaking as, speaking as, speaking as ... me." They went off rocking again, and fully stopped again with "never me, never you, never me" before rocking for another minute of jam to close it out. Does rock come any better than this?!? Just a little bit, going into the familiar pattern of Rearviewmirror, the starting notes in a slightly different key and pace. Ed continued the crowd interaction and it seemed he was on a personal mission to say 'fuck' as often as possible, this one with "Fist on my plate, I swallowed that motherfucker down." There was a really brilliant jam in the middle with Ed playing to Stone and Jeff to Jack, tempting the crowd twice to restart the song, and also Ed jumped down to the front barrier to be with the crowd. When it did restart, we all knew, as some wicked strobe lights brought the crowd to life and went crazy during the jam, ending with a huge Jeff leap for the final note. During the show, Ed was smiling wryly at the crowd, enjoying seeing everyone moshing crazily, and it was wilder than the night before. Tonight was definitely the rock concert of my lifetime.
They came out for the encore a few minutes later, and it started with some jiving and moshing as we had "to bear with" Stone singing Mankind. It was loved by the crowd and everyone seemed to be dancing and singing along, with of course a great solo by who else but Stone! Hail Hail didn't seem to fit into the encore and was a bit of a let down tonight, sounding better at the start of the set on other nights. Needless to say, it was still moshing and had people going and wanting more. Ed and the band were in a jovial closing the tour mood I thought, and he said it was the case after Hail Hail. "So ah, in a weird way, this almost feels like the last night we're playing Australia" which Brisbane liked the honour of being. He went on to back it up with "I, I don't mean to ah, bemoan Perth or anything, but I just feel like we've kinda done this whole trek up here (hand signals of going up the coast of Australia), and now we're going to make this, it feels like we're going to a totally different place, but ah, what we've seen has just been tremendous and like last night here has just been great and it's kinda been we're gonna miss you" which received much applause and cheering. "It's weird, I've kinda felt, I think we all have, like a little like melancholy or something tonight, even better today, because ah, I was out in the water for fucking six hours today. Ah, but at least I didn't get injured, Stone, you want to show your, I don't know if you can see this, Stone was attacked wildly by a mad jellyfish." Stone lifts his shirt up and says "Ouch" jokingly, and Ed continues "and I'm glad I was there because, you know what happens when you get stung by a jellyfish, right? I got to do something I've wanted to do for a long time, that was piss on him!!!" (heheheheeee) "This song is Not For You, and it's not for you". Very funny, and straight into a rocking awesome version of Not For You. It was wicked and Ed got a few more "fucks" in, and some really haunting vocals on the last verse, and crowd singing it with him. The crowd was going off again, and we loved it, and then it ended slowly and reflectfully with Ed and Jack playing out the last beats for about 30 seconds more.
This was followed by many lighters again, not as many as Sydney, but much better singing for Betterman. It was really good but I was pleased the encore didn't finish with it, as the night was rocking and deserved another, Ed introducing it with "All right thanks a lot, we're gonna do one more, I hate to break the mood but I just saw the funniest fucking thing, this guys got this lighter up and then all of a sudden he's like 'jesus fucking'." Ed made the hand signal of someone being burned by a lighter and jumping while saying it and it was bloody funny! "So til next time you guys be careful and take care of yourselves alright. This ones called Blood." The mosh went crazy, everyone in a frenzy over it. It was heaps better than when they played it last time they were in the country, and they stopped almost in the middle and went into a jam for a few minutes, during which Ed jumped down into the front barrier again while still singing "ohh." Then he was back up on stage and it was back on when Ed started "paint ed big, turn ed into, one of my fucking enemies" and then it went crazy again.
The band went off stage completely this time for a true second encore, unlike the night before, and when they came back it was "Wow." Being my fifth show of the tour, sixth in total, I'd seen most of the songs already, but the only one I hadn't and wanted to see live was Indifference, and the boys provided. I almost cried from happiness at seeing it, its simply amazing. Ed's vocals were haunting, the lighters going up everywhere. Mike sat on his amp, side-on to the crowd, to play so he could watch Ed. Actually at times it looked like no-one was playing at all as it was hard to see him hitting the chords. The crowd clapped along and sang for bits, but not many, preferring to listen to Ed. How much difference does this song make?!? A bloody huge amount!!!
Not to break the overall feel of the night, Ed pronounced "Keith turn the lights on, we'll have a party to end this thing". And the house lights came up and Ed stated "Alright lets get it on, we got a, same last song as last night but we got a friend, Robert Machado(?), Rob Machado to play on guitar, so lets crank this thing up and get off." And they sent us off on a moshing, dancing craze with Rockin' In The Free World. Again, we were dancing wildly on the floor, and those in the seats too, it was as he said -- a party. The middle was highlighted with an extended jam, Ed balancing his mic stand upside down for a while, the jam going to almost silence before the last verse started up. As they blasted out the final notes, Ed decided to spray the front crowd with the remaining half of his wine, spreading it out over half the mosh area. As the feedback was going off from the guitars, Ed introduced the band saying "Rob Machado ... Stone Gossard ... Mike McCready ... Jeff Ament ... Jack Irons ... and me! See ya all, thanks a lot." The show ended on a high, and everyone was in great spirits, if it weren't a Sunday night, we'd all be out drinking and partying on like the night before.
With several highlights in the show, it didn't seem as good as the other four of the tour I'd seen, but then it seemed better, I'd put them all on an equal to avoid fighting myself to split hairs. Even though these shows were shorter than the first Australian tour three years ago, the band were having much more fun, it showed, and made the shows and performance much better in my opinion. America, come summer, you're in for a real good time!!! :)
© Oliver Sharwood ... used with permission