The Bronx

High Ten­sion / Born Lion

Blunt - - Live! - David James Young

The Metro Theatre, Sydney 20/ 06/ 2014

Get­ting Sydney’s Born Lion to open for The Bronx is a lit­tle like get­ting the U2 cover band that plays down at your lo­cal ev­ery Sun­day af­ter­noon to open for Bono and co. If any­thing, it ex­posed ev­ery trick in the book that the band have son­i­cally ripped from tonight’s headliners, as well as how poorly it’s ex­e­cuted in com­par­i­son to the real thing. Their work is unin­spired and flat, at­tempt­ing to spark an elec­tri­cal storm out of a pud­dle and a flat dou­ble- A bat­tery. It doesn’t help mat­ters that front­man John Bowker car­ries him­self as if he were fronting U2, swear­ing like a nineyear- old who just dis­cov­ered naughty words. This is the kind of mu­sic that should have never es­caped that afore­men­tioned pub.

At the com­plete op­po­site end of the spec­trum, Mel­bourne’s High Ten­sion were there to melt faces and chew bub­blegum – and, wouldn’t you know it, they were fresh out of bub­blegum. Ex­ud­ing one of the most cap­ti­vat­ing live pres­ences in con­tem­po­rary live Aus­tralian mu­sic, the quar­tet wasted lit­tle time elim­i­nat­ing the room of squares, mer­ci­lessly tear­ing through cuts from their 2013 de­but, Death Beat. For those new to the party, this hy­brid beast of Can­berra’s Young & Rest­less and Mel­bourne- via- Tassie’s The Na­tion Blue blend snarling guitar and thud­ding drums with the un­mis­tak­able ban­shee shrieks of Ka­rina Utomo, who ap­pears to have found her true calling within the fold of this band. By the time she had made her way down onto the floor for “High Risk, High Re­wards”, the for­merly stunned au­di­ence was whip­ping them­selves into a frenzy. If this set didn’t leave you sali­vat­ing for what was still to come, noth­ing would.

Barely a year on from their three- night- stand at the dearly- missed An­nan­dale, The Bronx were back and play­ing to po­ten­tially their big­gest Sydney crowd to date. “LET’S GO!” screamed vo­cal­ist Matt Caugh­thran as “Kill My Friends” kicked off the evening’s pro­ceed­ings – as if the sold- out Metro needed an in­vi­ta­tion. By song two, “His­tory’s Stran­glers”, he had front- flipped into the crowd, per­form­ing the track al­most en­tirely while be­ing surfed about. Each track thereon brought life to the surg­ing, bounc­ing room; rang­ing from re­cent cuts like “The Un­holy Hand” and “Too Many Devils” to older favourites such as “Knife­man” and “White Tar”. No mat­ter where your al­le­giance lies in terms of the band’s discog­ra­phy, there was no way you were go­ing home empty- handed. The band’s re­la­tion­ship with Aus­tralia goes above and be­yond your usual generic “we- love- your- coun­try” bab­ble, as Caugh­thran en­thused about his love of Aus­tralian mu­sic dur­ing one of his many moments of mem­o­rable ban­ter. “Keep your ear to the ground – and, when you hear some­thing you love, lift that shit up!” he shouted. The roars of ap­proval that fol­lowed sug­gested we’ll all be do­ing just that – then again, this was a crowd that were at the beck and call of each and ev­ery one of Caugh­thran’s moves. It was sweaty, in­tense and re­lent­less, no mat­ter where you ended up in the room. With a flash, bang and a scorch­ing finale in the form of undis­puted fan favourite “Heart At­tack Amer­i­can”, The Bronx were gone just as quickly as they were here. 10 years af­ter their first visit, it’s moments like this that re­mind you why The Bronx are sim­ply un­miss­able ev­ery time they’re in town.

high Ten­sion

Born Lion

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