There is no better way to end the week than to head out and catch a concert! Actually, there is; when you’re getting to see a band celebrating 20 years of their third album, it just goes to show the longevity and staying power of the band in question.
Heading out to The Croxton in Thornbury, this reviewer had been awaiting a LONG time to see Unwritten Law perform again; after missing out on the 15th anniversary tour for Elva, there was no way known that he would miss seeing the band play The Black Album from start to finish. The bistro and pokies part of the venue was abuzz with fans awaiting for doors to open, whilst those waiting at The Bandroom were a lot less in number.
As doors opened later than originally planned, this meant opening band Bukowski had to cut their set down by about one or two songs; this didn’t put a damper on the energy that this four piece had built up though! They had an amazing sound, great lyrical content and are most definitely an upcoming Melbourne band that everyone should get behind and support when the chance arises. Before starting the last song of their set, Bukowski’s front man pointed out that he had never heard Unwritten Law before, but he was super pumped to experience what was going to come later, as the energy from the crowd was rising at a constant pace.
The Dead Love were the out of town local band for the evening, having made the trek down from Sydney; however they most definitely showed why they were a welcome addition to the line-up. This trio kept the energy building as they were inciting the constantly growing audience to take six or seven steps closer and create a more intimate feeling; both the guitarist and bassist were running around on stage trying to expend all the excitement contained within! The twenty five minute set really flew by and next thing you knew, the band were saying their farewells and packing up their instruments.
The Drop Bears showcased the tightest set out of the support bands; this five piece came out and you knew from the get go that they had a finely tuned engine! Before starting the set, frontman ‘Flying’ Pete Vanda came out and dedicated the set to their previous bassist, who had unfortunately passed about eight weeks ago due to a brain condition; they had propped his beautiful wooden bass on stage and had draped his stage jacket around it. All five members of The Drop Bears were all dressed in black shirts and black pants, with a stunning checkered black & white tie and it really was a sight to behold! A couple of songs into the set, Vanda was asking for one guitarist to play a chord for a volume check, before getting the other guitarist to do the same; the second guitarist made a couple of changes to his pedal board and then strummed extra loudly, whilst wearing a huge smirk on his face. The bassist has then asked if he can play a chord, to be met with an instant rejection from Vanda. The crowd has showed their disapproval before Vanda has given permission, only to be met with ‘I don’t know any bass chords…’ and laughter from the audience; this reviewer has turned to a friend jokingly and mentioned how he wanted to hear a drum chord, only for the drummer to playfully quip that ‘I don’t have any chords!’ After tossing a couple of CDs into the audience, The Drop Bears got back into their set and played another couple songs before drawing their set to a close and leaving the sold out crowd awaiting the arrival of Unwritten Law.
The next thirty minutes was the worst wait ever, as it seemed to take forever; The Croxton was packed to the rafters and the mosh was steadily getting packed tighter. As per usual, the curtain was drawn across the set, so we couldn’t get a sneak peek of what to expect from a visual performance! Once the curtain opened, we were greeted with a huge backdrop showing the album cover for ‘The Black Album’ located behind Wade Youman’s kit; Steve Morris made his away across the stage first and picked up his electric before Youman took a seat behind his kit and Jonny Grill picked up his bass. Frontman Scott Russo was the last to walk out on stage, to a massive cheer of appreciation from those in attendance that lifted the roof off its supports! Kicking off the set with Harmonic, Unwritten Law were showing why they are still selling out venues worldwide after all these years; the energy was high from the get go, as you didn’t know where to cast your eyes on stage. The mosh didn’t take long to get moving and have bodies flying as the band worked their way down the track list, working their way through Teenage Suicide, Sorry and California Sky with the energy that they had when recording the album.
Fan favourite Cailin received another huge cheer from the audience and security really had their work cut out from that point onwards! Russo’s vocals were just as sharp and full of power as they were all those years ago, as Lonesome, Coffin Text and Holiday sounded just as good, if not better last night; Youman was pounding away behind the drums like a man possessed whilst both Grill and Morris were their own show in their own part. As the band worked their way through Underground, Close Your Eyes, Before I Go, Genocide and 4:18, this drew the ‘Black Album’ portion of the set to a close; fans had the ability to showcase their appreciation for quite some time, as there was a small break whilst the backdrop was changed to signify that the first set of the show had concluded.
This small breather allowed the crowd to somehow lift it another gear as the second part of the set kicked off with Rescue Me and Seeing Red; Russo has walked out on stage with a well-deserved lit cigarette and was thoroughly enjoying it when he could. Shoulda Known Better had the crowd pushing more than previously in the night (even though bodies were flying, the pit was pretty well behaved until this point), before Russo slowed things down a little bit by donning an acoustic guitar for I Like The Way and Welcome To Oblivion; the raw sound that came from just having Russo on stage with an acoustic guitar paired with his voice was a sight to behold and one that this reviewer will remember for a long time! Youman rejoined Russo during Welcome To Oblivion during the later stages, before both Morris/Cliff resumed their positions on stage as well. Russo swapped his acoustic for an electric, as the band concluded their set with She Says, Save Me and Up All Night before thanking the audience and walking off stage yet again; however the venue lights hadn’t been turned on, so fans started chanting for “one more song”. Unwritten Law came out and granted this wish as they performed not only C.P.K, but drew their set to a close with a cover of More Than You Are by Grinspoon.
MAKE SURE YOU PURCHASE TICKETS TO ANY OF THE FEW REMAINING NON-SOLD OUT SHOWS HERE!
UNWRITTEN LAW SET LIST:
Close Your Eyes
Before I Go
Shoulda Known Better
I Like The Way (Acoustic)
Welcome To Oblivion (Acoustic)
Up All Night
More Than You Are – Grinspoon cover
Photos by Dylan Martin.