We all froth over the announcements of certain bands and musos getting back together. But when it comes to tours, that’s when everything goes haywire, especially the ticket sales. As soon as one of the most prominent entities of the Drum N Bass genre known as Pendulum broadcasted their return and a national tour, capacities of all the venues began to pile up quickly. With the band performing their first ever tour in Australia since 2011, we went caught the homecoming of the Perth-based ensemble at the Forum Theatre in Melbourne where we witnessed what became the most extraordinary show of 2018.
Formalities were underway with Brisbanian duo Earthlings, who opened up the evening with flying colours. Before actually performing their own music, a remix including heaps of songs from Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine, The Prodigy, N*Sync, Jay-Z, KoRn and heaps more was playing to warm everyone up. Soon after, the boys went on and executed some amazing beats through their electronic percussion set, performing covers of Intergalactic by Beastie Boys and Jump Around by House of Pain which would both crossover with each other lyrically, as well as throwing beach balls into the crowd.
One of the most amazing idiosyncrasies from the guys was not just the perfectly synchronized drumming between the two, but the fact that one of them was able to perform so well with a cast on his left arm, leaving him with just his right to use. It didn’t take a lot for Earthlings to be able to control the audience as the opener, considering it’s a hard stunt to pull for any new band. However, they got everyone gyrating to their onstage production. Knowing that Earthlings are a brand new name to music, I have a large build of confidence that says these guys will be going places after everything I had seen from these two enthusiastic characters.
What was about to be presented to everyone at the Forum was going to be far beyond everyone’s expectations. The very second Pendulum stormed the stage and blasted a mind-boggling live rendition of Salt in the Wounds, it became so transparent that this was going to be a show that would go down in history. To say that the vibes all throughout the venue were at an all-time high is one hell of an understatement. At certain shows, you wonder if it’s the band orchestrating the crowd, or the crowd orchestrating them. For this, Pendulum had everyone under their spell, conducting them in the spirited manner possible and fluently.
Throughout the evening, Pendulum kept their set balanced between three albums worth of material. This included classics and fan favourites including Granite, Slam, Tarantula, Witchcraft, Hold Your Colour and a lot more. Though most of what they provided were essentially, the heavier tracks they would normally cater to everyone, Pendulum delivered some more danceable pieces to keep the evening a little more diverse including The Island and the ABC News Theme Remix.
Frontman Rob Swire’s vocals haven’t been tainted or aged in the slightest since the band’s hiatus six years ago. His range stills sounds untouched and sharp to this day. Not to mention, the eclectic nature of himself as a multi-instrumentalist performing on a complicated-looking Ztar Midi Guitar while executing his melodic voice simultaneously in the process. While he kept himself busy with his own onstage role, his right hand man in Knife Party and bassist Gareth McGrillen has been taking the role of the MC in place of Ben Mount, and managed the audience like a real natural by getting everyone to bounce, mosh, wave their arms and clap to the beat. Personally, I feel KJ Sawka is one of the most underrated drummers of today, especially because of the fact that he can outperform a drum machine and is able to provide a Pendulum track with percussions that give it so much life through his natural course of talent. And of course, guitarist Peredur ap Gwynedd’s work as the group’s primary stringsman is still in high regards to every fan in the community.
But what made the evening just as special was the amount of crowd participation between Swire’s vocal melodies and the spectators which was spine-chilling and exhilarating. With an audience consisting of those that have either never Pendulum before or have seen them prior to their breakup, seeing them all pour their hearts out to songs like Watercolour, Witchcraft and Propane Nightmares felt equivalent to entering a Utopian world. The energy, the devotion, the intensity, everything about it between Pendulum and their fans was pure bliss, and almost indescribable.
We may only be halfway through 2018, and I’m so very certain that it’s far from a stretch when I say that Pendulum and Earthlings have supplied the year with the greatest show of the year. Whether we see them again in the future or not, it’s going to take a long time to see another gig that could outclass them in the slightest. Remind you, this is a Drum N Bass and Electronic Rock band we’re talking about here. Every band should really consider taking notes from Pendulum, because they’ve been able to perfect the show of a lifetime in ways no other band of any genre could ever come close to in a long time.
Photos by Andrew Basso