Armed with mostly newer tunes from latest album Purple (2015) and the sheer presence of frontman John Baizley, the Georgian metal five-piece certainly didn’t disappoint at the Metro last night.
Yet the night was full of surprises when it came to the local supports in tow. Quartet Lo! seemed somewhat out of place, while prog post-rock collective We Lost The Sea delivered just the right amount of atmosphere and A-grade shredding.
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There was still plenty of room in the venue as early punters rolled through. Most people didn’t know what to expect from the two Sydney bands up first, adding an edge of obscurity to the vibe.
That feeling wasn’t entirely cleared as heavy four-piece Lo! came onto the stage, awash in red light.
While there’s no doubting the quartet’s next-level musicality, this was hampered by a lack of interaction with the crowd for much of their set. Despite this, vocalist Sam Dillon unleashed a pretty impressive vocal assault, all while whipping his hair around vigorously and delivering some stellar moves.
Drummer Adrian Griffin, exuding a magnetic energy from behind the kit, was the standout performer. He delivered an impressive variety of rhythmic switch-ups with ease, driving every tune home.
Yet it was the experimental brilliance and layered intensity of the sextet to come that proved significantly more in tune with the headliners. So despite a solid set overall, in retrospect the openers were shifted to the back-burner as a relatively lo! point in the night.
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Every We Lost The Sea song packed a punch, and with a combined stoic presence, made for an excellent performance. They started off with a slow, resonant guitar intro that instantly got us vibing out. Yet just when we were on the cusp of feeling like it was dragging on, the collective ripped into the rest of their first song with a gut-busting force.
The layering of instruments was masterful, from Mathew Kelly’s touch on keyboard to the underlying bass groove from bassist Kieran Elliott. A magical moment came when all three guitarists, who had been trading rhythmic and lead parts, began shredding furiously at the same time.
Founding member Mark Owen held down the fort centre-stage, delivering lingering gazes out into the crowd, while fellow axemen Matt Harvey and Brendon Warner showcased the epic range of their talents.
While also not interacting much with the now-awestruck moshpit, their overall ambience fit so seamlessly with the cinematic yet aggressive vibes Baroness were about to bring.
By now, the crowd was well riled up.
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The mighty metal quartet couldn’t have found a better way to kick us off than with ‘Kerosene’, a tune from Purple with an infectious opening riff and a great shot of heaviness.
I was immediately locked into Baizley’s piercing, wide-eyed stare as he stood centre stage. Intimidating yet compelling. Their opening track flowed into the much slower intro of Yellow‘s ‘March to the Sea’, before the pace picked back up later in the song.
Yet it was the next two songs which were the real highlights.
Having never seen a Baroness show, I was particularly keen to hear the harmonising guitar dynamic between Baizley and Peter Adams. Although brief on ‘Morningstar’, it reflected just how well the two are able to cut through the band’s overall wash of sound, and that carried all the way through the night.
This, coupled with doubling guitars, was no exception on other standout tracks like ‘Chlorine & Wine’. Hypnotic interaction between all members, particularly between the guitarists and energetic bassist Nick Jost, truly showcased their prowess as a live unit.
Now early in the morning, the five-piece discovered that they’d picked up a Grammy nomination of ‘Best Metal Performance’ for ‘Shock Me’ off Purple. Oh the irony. Unsurprisingly though, the track was another show winner, its mosh-ready chorus delivered with plenty of fervour.
— Baroness (@YourBaroness) December 6, 2016
Heavy the heart steady the hand/One last taste of milk and gasoline.
‘If I Have To Wake Up (Would You Stop The Rain)’ took things to a poignant emotional level. Baizley’s rich vocals became even thicker as he delivered the track’s gut-wrenching lyrics.
Another emotional moment came much later on. Despite admitting that Baroness are “not a talking band” to a round of chuckles, Adams then reflected on just how much the Sydney support meant to the five-piece, being met with a raucous crowd response.
Those brilliant harmonising guitars burst back to the fullest with ‘Try to Disappear’, another favourite which got the crowd jumping. Then ‘Desperation Burns’, one of the heaviest songs of the night, contrasted really well with the melodic moments punctuating much of their set.
While last night was dominated by tunes from Purple, a highly significant one for the group, shades of old colours came back with the Blue Record‘s rhythmic show-stopper ‘The Gnashing’ (2009).
Yet the nostalgia trip didn’t quite stop after the band walked off stage.
Following the classic calls for “One more song” and even “Ten more songs” (which seems to have become a popular shout-out at recent gigs), they swiftly reappeared to deliver ‘Isak’, going even further back to their debut Red Album (2007). Then, they capped off a stellar run with ‘Take My Bones Away’ (Yellow), electrifying the venue one last time.
This tour’s been a long time coming, and it truly delivered.
Rhiannon Hopley is a Sydney based, award winning photographer. Her diverse range of skills have found her working in live music, promotional, events, and fashion photography, while also working as freelance graphic designer and an accomplished artist. Rhiannon began professional shooting soon after graduating high school in 2004, with excellence in photography. Initially shooting gigsLearn more about Rhiannon Hopley