A GREAT START FOR MELODICROCKFEST AUSTRALIA!
Date: May 13, 2016
Venue: Elephant and Wheelbarrow Hotel
Location: St. Kilda, Melbourne, Australia
Reviewer: Rob Colaiacovo
Photos: Sam Colaiacovo
The MelodicRockfest kick-off at the Elephant and Wheelbarrow Hotel in St Kilda, Melbourne on Friday, May 13th and Saturday, May 14th saw the first ever showcasing some of Australia’s finest hard rock bands as well as international acts, none bigger than Erik Gronwall from H.E.A.T., Paul Laine (ex-Danger Danger) and Eclipse from Sweden.
Anticipation was high for this event as there were many bands I had not had the privilege of seeing, let alone thought I would ever see. The small venue provided an intimate atmosphere which capacity holding close to 500 people. This certainly allowed the fans to get up and close personal and I prefer these types of venues over a stadium holding thousands of people any day of the week.
After Erik Gronwall played a private acoustic set for a limited audience who purchased a deluxe pass, local Melbourne based melodic rock band, The Radio Sun, kicked off proceedings with an unplugged set playing a selection of tracks from their two albums Wrong Things Right and Heaven Or Heartbreak. Highlights came in the form of “Tell Me What You Want,” “Wrong Things Right” and “Dying Without Your Love.” Stalwarts of the Melbourne music scene, the quartet, specializing in huge vocal harmonies, played a tight opening set with vocalist Jason Old, who in part reminds me a little of Eric Martin, being in fine form.
Next to the stage was Paul Laine. Now, I’ve never really got into Danger Danger after Ted Poley’s departure, let alone Paul Laine’s solo material, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Laine has worked with The Radio Sun in producing both of their albums to date, so it was no surprise they joined him on stage. It didn’t take long before I realized this set was going to be something special. Man, what a voice!!! Whether Laine was performing songs from his solo material, or from Danger Danger, he absolutely had the crowd in raptures whilst providing comedic relief between songs. I spent my time after his set searching through eBay to see what albums I could find. WOW!
The last of the unplugged sets for the evening came from a band you’d least expect. Melbourne’s Black Majesty have been playing their brand of power metal since 2001, so it was with some surprise I read their name on the bill for a melodic rock gig. It was also Steve Janevski’s third straight performance as he assumed guitar duties for both The Radio Sun and Black Majesty. Songs from all six studio releases like you’ve never heard them greeted the fans. They’re supporting Primal Fear for their Melbourne show next month on June 11th in what promises to be a great evening.
Tonk, hailing from Australia’s capital city, Canberra, have been strutting their stuff for the best part of a decade. They play their own brand of classic old fashioned hard rock in the vein of Airbourne and even some early Van Halen. Whilst they had the crowd cheering with some fine tracks, especially from their latest release, Ruby Voodoo — just check out the track “Voodoo” — I couldn’t help but think vocalist, Jinks, was more suited to the English punk underground scene with his spiky blonde mohawk. In saying that, Tonk put on by far the loudest performance of the night.
Formed in the early ’90s, progressive metal outfit Vanishing Point, also from Melbourne, took to the stage to the delight of the local fans. Playing tracks from their entire back catalogue, the band did not disappoint. A highlight for me was their title track from their latest release, Distant Is The Sun, a song and album more melodic than its predecessors but nonetheless brilliant. Vanishing Point are another one of those bands who have not got the credit they deserve so far in their career. I highly recommend you also check out the track “When Truth Lies” from their latest opus.
Headlining day one were Sisters Doll, three brothers originally from Perth who moved to Melbourne to pursue their dreams. Now I forgive myself for not knowing that they apparently came second in Australia’s Got Talent, as I don’t watch mainstream TV. However, I started questioning what rock I’ve been living under these past few years as it also turns out they have played in excess of 300 shows in Australia. The combined age of the brothers would still make them younger than Ozzy Osbourne. Many people in the audience were wearing Sisters Doll t-shirts which only raised my curiosity and I kept saying to my brother “Who the fuck are Sisters Doll?” Prior to them commencing their set, I asked (what could only have been a groupie selling merchandise), what to expect when they came on. She uttered, “a bit of Poison, KISS, Mötley Crüe — you know that sort of stuff.”
Well, it turns out that Sisters Doll are indeed Australia’s answer to glam rock. Decked out in spandex, “I love Barbie” t-shirts, mascara (I think you get the point – quick google Sisters Doll), they certainly had the stage presence that would have truly found a place next to some of the biggest glam rock bands from back in the day.
But most importantly, they can play! Now I may be slightly biased writing this review as glam rock has always been a guilty pleasure of mine, but yes indeed, these guys rock! Songs like “Are You Scared Of Clowns,” “Run Away,” “Falling” and “Welcome To The Dollhouse” were like a leech to my skin hearing these for the first time. I quickly purchased a deluxe copy of their debut CD and have had it on high rotations since returning to my home state and I will not miss them when they play in Adelaide on June 4th.
All in all, a great first day!