If you know Sydney, you know that Kirribilli is a neat, wealthy little waterside suburb on the northern end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge where locals congregate in expensive pubs and cafes and mostly clean harbourside parks. Tonight, however, it has been invaded by hundreds and hundreds of excited metalheads from all walks of the genre filling up the bar at Hotel Kirribilli or patronising local bottle shops to take up blacked clothes clusters on the steady slope down Milsons Point towards Luna Park, our venue for the evening.
Those already content with having spent some time in the grass on a warm, spring evening drinking stubbies had filled up the Big Top significantly even before tonight’s opening band Skindred left the green room, not many were missing a chance to get into the pit area for tonight’s onslaught.
Skindred is one hell of a band to warm up a crowd, even with two local acts bumped from the roster, they had no trouble whipping the excited throng into a mosh frenzy with their unique style of nu metal, blending the aggression of the genre with reggae influences and selections of world music stylings.
Those who hadn’t been exposed to their intriguing musical stew were treated with a fantastic performance, if not for the precision of the band itself, at least for the manic energy and rapid-fire output of singer Benji Webbe who soon had the crowd eating out of his hands.
Kicking off with ‘Rat Race‘, the set was a constant of catchy hits that refused to stand still, jumped between stomping groove, screeching breakdowns, ragga-core melody and Carribean sway without losing an inch of aggression. Through favourites like ‘Pressure‘, ‘Kill The Power‘, ‘Doom Riff‘, ‘Nobody‘ and ‘Sound The Siren‘, Skindred kept the fans moving and provided reason after reason why those who hadn’t yet checked them out bloody well should! At least for the “Newport Helicopter“, or “Newpot Ellecopta” as Benji would say.
The changeover period was akin to a mass exodus of punters from one part of the Big Top to another as bar lines filled up and the smoking area became shoulder to shoulder. The screams from amusement rides surrounding the venue failed to drown out the rabble and occasional roar of “METAAAL!” between mates.
It took a little longer than expected, but when the lights finally dimmed, you could feel the electricity in the air, it was as if the roof was about to be blown off the Big Top.
All but deafened upon arriving on stage, the Cavalera brothers, Max and Iggor were met by the unholy bellow of now a couple of thousand hungry mouths.
Upon the first few bars of the untouchable opening salvo of ‘Roots Bloody Roots‘, security had a hard time maintaining order in the venues bottlenecks, so many punters trying to get in on the action felt like the early stages of a riot, but once the initial crush subsided it was game on for all involved, filling up whatever space they could on the floor and finding whatever vantage they could from the balcony, the stomping sounding like a demolition crew at work.
The set covered the meat of the breakthrough album and many locals never thought they would experience it live, Max having left Sepultura the same year of its release. While we’re not quite seeing Sepultura here tonight, Max and Iggor are flanked by some serious allies. Long-standing cohort Marc Rizzo for one on lead guitar, who in recent years is consistently seen by Max’s side in the bands Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy, and the Mexican metal workhorse and former Soulfly bassist Tony Campos (Currently a member of Fear Factory).
Together they pummel through the album with ease and anger, fan favourites like ‘Attitude‘, ‘Ratamahatta‘ and ‘Dusted‘ still hold together as strong as they ever did live, and while some may as that this ain’t as good as ‘back in the day’, well, build a time machine, buddy.
Naturally, all good albums come to an end, and by the screaming punk overload of ‘Dicktatorshit’ everyone was left wondering what could come next? There’s a massive song pool to choose from! More Seps? Soulfly? Cavalera Conspiracy? Nailbomb? NAILBOMB!?
The Cavaleras have returned but where are the other guys? Oh, I see!
In what seems to be a bit of fun and indulgence, the brothers start jamming out parts of early Sepultura tracks with just guitar, drums and vocals. The sound might be stark without the rest of the band, but the spectacle of what is garage jam with the crowd singing along makes for a special experience for the die-hards.
They bust out a medley consisting of ‘Inner Self‘, ‘Desperate Cry‘, their infamous cover of the Motorhead classic ‘Orgasmatron‘ and the old-school ‘Beneath the Remains‘ much to their own delight and to many more.
Soon enough, Marc and Tony return to fill out the stage while Max eschews his own guitar to growl through a cover of ‘Ace of Spades’, giving us a second taste of the mighty Motorhead, because why the fuck not?
But what’s to come? ‘Roots Bloody Roots’ to close, but this is no ordinary rendition, this is faster, punchier, darker and heavier than before! One last frantic energiser from an already punished crowd to go crazy once more before we’re all forced back out into the luke-warm night air.
Max might seem like he’s getting on, but he can still deliver a hell of a show and brings the right people along to help. If you didn’t catch this tour, you probably never will have the chance again. Good work guys! But play some Nailbomb next time, pleeeease!