The Vines Live at The Metro (November 2007) video avi + rip mp3


Before I say anything about this night in specifics, I must get one thing out of the way from the get go: this gig rocked. And there are 1200 bruised, sweaty, hoarse punters (from all walks of life) to prove it. From the time the first support band stepped on stage to when Craig Nicholls smashed his guitar to bits (audience cheering him on) to end it all, the intensity never stopped.

I will get my only criticisms of Cabins out of the way quickly. Firstly, their stage set-up was greatly hindered by the kits of their succeeding acts, leaving one of their guitarist/vocalists practically a mile away from everyone else. Secondly, for a band that plays such a tight, authentic, raucous live show somewhere between garage and math rock, it proved a severe difficulty to find any information about them online. They have the chance to gain a genuine legion of fans with this tour. They aren’t taking it. That said, they are brilliant, and the crowd responded approvingly.

Wolf & Cub is the type of psychedelic band that’s made to dance to. Beyond their infamous “two-headed, eight-limbed drummer”, they are a band made of jammy improvisation and invincible walls of sound. Their experience as live performers shone throughout, with the stage presence of frontman Joel Byrne particularly noteworthy. Unfortunately, technical issues plagued bassist Thomas Mayhew – luck was not on his side tonight. Although it may have ruined their radio hit This Mess, not much else was affected and the performance was commendable.

After a 45-minute wait made pleasant by the constant looping of Pink Floyd’s The Wall over the PA system, the curtains of the Metro Theatre opened, revealing The Vines. Here was the band responsible for a line that crawled all the way to Pitt Street from 4pm – with the man at the centre of it all, Craig Nicholls, holding a cigarette in one hand and the microphone in another. The house exploded. Limbs flailing, bodies crushing, maniacs crowd-surfing, guitars being ripped to shreds as a virtual greatest hits collection is belted out. Sydney’s quartet finally came good on their promise to come back rock stars after years of bad press, fallouts and mediocre albums. To this crowd at least.

What was most admirable about the show was Craig himself. The self-destructive attitude that plagued his band’s early live shows has been harnessed by the frontman. What was once a liability to their live show is now an invaluable asset. As he swaggered abound the stage, breaking mic stands, ripping his t-shirt off, having roadies chase him at every turn and explaining songs in relation to real time happenings (such as playfully preceding Don’t Listen To The Radio with “Stop throwing things at me and listen to my music. This song is about that.”), he had the audience in his tight grasp. With his vocals clearer than ever and a true appreciation for his hometown evident, one can go as far as to say Craig may well be the best onstage male lead in Australian music.

That said it must take a lot of patience, and nerves, to be a part of The Vines. As thick as the scent of tobacco abound, so were the tensions mid-set. Drummer Hamish Rosser, in particular, looked set to walk out like Patrick Matthews did four years earlier during their cover of Outkast’s Hey Ya. Whilst they played through each song tightly and vigorously, you can’t help but feel for Ryan Griffiths and Brad Heald also, who could well become modern incarnations of Krist Novoselic.

Coming back for the encore and finishing with a two-minute endeavour to destroy his black guitar, Craig Nicholls and company left the audience with not a doubt in their mind. The Vines are back to play amongst rock’s best, just like they did back in 2002. Can they get back up there? Only time will tell.

Video:

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Audio:

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